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Publisher's Summary

Saburo Sakai became a living legend in Japan during World War II. Pilots everywhere spoke in awe of his incredible exploits in the air. Of all Japan’s aces, Saburo Sakai is the only pilot who never lost a wingman in combat. For a man who engaged in more than 200 aerial combats, this was an incredible achievement. His remarkable book Samurai! written by Martin Caiden but with the assistance of Sakai and Fred Saito is a brilliant account of life as a Japanese pilot in the Second World War.

Samurai! charts Sakai’s remarkable life from his lowly, poor origins, to signing up with the military at the age of 16, to his conflicts with American aircraft over Guadalcanal where he had the heavy fragments of two 50-caliber machine gun bullets embedded in his skull, through to the moment when Japan eventually surrendered. For many listeners Samurai! will do much to bring the Pacific air war into new perspective. The story of Saburo Sakai provides for the first time an intimate look into the “other side”.

Martin Caidin was an American author and an authority on aeronautics and aviation. Caidin was an airplane pilot as well, and bought and restored a 1936 Junkers Ju 52 airplane. Samurai! was first published in 1957, and Caidin passed away in 1997. Saburo Sakai was a Japanese naval aviator and flying ace who had 64 aerial victories. He passed away in 2000.

©2019 BN Publishing (P)2019 BN Publishing

What listeners say about Samurai!

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great read

A fascinating look at the air war in WW2 from the Japanese perspective. Caidin always was a great story teller. But this is fact not fiction.

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  • B Taub
  • 22-06-2019

Interesting But Worst Narration Ever!

For all of its flaws of this book and especially this recording, it is still worth the time for someone looking for an interesting aviation war story with lots of action from a completely different perspective that we typically see in the West. Saburo Sakai, the subject of this book, fought in China and in many Pacific campaigns - both winning and losing. He lived the meteoric rise and the eventual fall of the Japanese empire. He, therefore, provides a great perspective on the Japanese fighter pilot experience and how it evolved over the course of the war. He was there in the early days, when the Zero was supreme. He was there in the later days when his side just couldn't keep up with their enemies' tactics, manufacturing capacity, and technological innovation. So, there is a lot to learn here.

It's also exciting stuff. There are a ton of dogfights and flying adventures, many told in detail. (as a slightly surprising aside, I found it interesting that I just couldn't separate myself from an American focus, really feeling bad for the crews that Sakai shot down - even though the story is told from his, not their, perspective. When I read material told from the American perspective, I don't feel nearly so bad for the enemy pilots who are suffering from the same horrible fates.)

Not that the material is completely accurate. As, I guess, might be expected, Sakai never mentions the treatment of conquered people or prisoners of war. He once does refer to a brothel at Rabaul but never discusses how it was likely staffed with sex slaves. I also know that in aerial combat, kill totals are frequently inflated. While some of his kills have been documented in other literature I've read, I wonder if anyone has correlated his records with American & Australian records.

Finally, I can generally live with just about any narrator, and I managed to suffer through this one, but it was tough! There were many mispronunciations throughout the text and many places where a few seconds of audio are repeated and overlapped on each other. There was even one spot where the narrator seemed to record a phrase three times, hurling what I believe was an expletive after the second time. The reader's voice was fine and his attempt to add drama to some scenes was, I guess, forgivable but this title could really benefit from some serious editing. I don't mean to cast aspersions, especially if this was a recording done by the reader charitably for people who can't read, but this one is worth a redo,

4 people found this helpful

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  • Tim
  • 09-06-2019

Poor Narrator

I’ve made it through less than an hour of this book and cannot handle the narrator. His cadence and tone remind me of a bad 1950s western movie. Moreover, it appears little research was done as there are multiple mispronunciations throughout. I hate that I wasted a credit on this performance. This is a story that needs to be told but not with this narrator.

4 people found this helpful

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  • CLAUDIA R KENNEDY
  • 13-11-2019

Bad production/ terrible narration

Great story but the narrator actually reads poorly And almost stutters throughout entire book making listening to even a great memoir very hard

2 people found this helpful

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  • Andreas
  • 22-04-2020

Important document, embarrassing production

This is the worst production I've heard on Audible. Stumbling over words, weird mixing. Not worth the money.

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  • Steve T
  • 17-02-2020

Changing Fates of War. Change the Narrator!

A brilliant story of World War 2 in the Pacific as seen by one of Japan's greatest fighter aces; the only one of that select group to survive the war. Unfortunately this gripping and honest account is destroyed by poor narration not suited to the material and poor editing that leaves multiple outtakes and extraneous material in the presentation.
Saburo Sakai describes his strict training and his awkward first experiences as a fighter pilot. In the early days of the war, Japan ran rampant and was seeming invincible; Sakai quickly became a peerless master of air combat, the best fighter pilot in the best airplane of that time (the Zero fighter). After initial ignominious defeats, the Americans roared back with a vengeance. At first American pilots had to develop tactics that would enable them to succeed despite the Zero's better performance, but soon the Japanese found themselves facing superior fighter planes flown by skilled pilots as the balance in the Pacific quickly favored the Americans. Through victory and defeat Sakai relates the horror and heroism of war; an eloquent witness who was, at the time, our enemy. Saburo Sakai was a knight of the air; fighting fairly and honoring the abilities of his adversaries.
It is also a tale of adversity...dealing with the inequities of the Japanese class system and with the remote stupidity of the Japanese officers who did not appear to value the lives of their noncommissioned fighter pilots, of dealing with a life threatening battle injury until he was able to fly and fight again (with one eye!).
It is also a love story.
I cannot recommend the s-t-o-r-y highly enough.
HOWEVER...
This version is r-u-i-n-e-d by poor narration and poor editing. The reader uses STRIDENT voice throughout; my ears felt assaulted and worn out. This was very inappropriate given the humble, thoughtful, and nuanced story told by an intelligent man. I feel sorry for the reader...did he not have the time to read and understand the book to better craft his voice to the story? Did he not have time to research the proper pronunciation individual names and place names? Was he unable to discern the flow and pattern of the sentences such that he almost always place the wrong em-PHA-sis within each sentence until it is almost impossible for the listener to understand how the air battles ebb and flow?
Did the editor(s) not have the pride or the time to craft a finished product? Apart from the horror of the narration the audio contains repeated takes of the same sentence, it even contains the reader's frustrated curse at his own poor reading!
This is a beautiful and important story ruined by a thoughtless, or rushed, production.
I hope that it is given a second chance with an appropriate narration and a professional editing.
I am sorry to say this... DO NOT PURCHASE THIS VERSION (release date 5/1/19, reader Kevin Waites).
DEMAND that it be re-done in a manner that gives honor to the author, the historical importance, and the listener!

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  • Jim Simcox
  • 23-01-2020

Great Story, Poor Narration

Loved the story but the narration was awful. Great written story by the author

Recommended

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  • Ritsu Katsumata
  • 11-11-2019

Great story ruined by terrible performance

The narrator sounds like a computer generated voice, flat monotone with no emotional inflection. Worse he mispronounces all the Japanese names. It’s like listening to a redneck robot.

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  • RAP61
  • 12-07-2019

very poor narration

very poor narrator but great story if you can look past it. interesting to hear the other side of things

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  • Saman
  • 12-06-2019

Fascinating but embellished!

I was very keen to listen to this book. It has an appeal all its own due to its Imperial Japanese Navy fighter ace and Zero plane subject matter. Hearing from the loser’s perspective is much more enduring and insightful rather than the victor’s bravado tales. The pacific theater of WWII is well documented by the winning allies and yet the Japanese viewpoint remain elusive. Not many survived to tell the tale. The book “Japanese Destroyer Captain” by Captain Tameichi Hara was an exception.

This book weaves the war time experience of the aviator Saburo Sakai and his formidable Zero fighter. The book lets us believe that the flying ace accounted for the destruction of over 60 US and other allied planes during his war time flying career. However, historical research proves otherwise. The book itself was written by an opportunist who apparently promoted the intensity of the air war battles to increase its sales. It has also been written that Sakai received no royalties from the book.

Certain aspects of the book are verified and true. Sakai was an amazing flyer fighting a superior foe. His feat of flying back to Rabaul after being wounded in his shot up Zero is legendary. After his injury, he flew less offensive air patrols and had to endure the deaths of many of his fellow flyers. Sakai’s experience in surviving the brutal training and other mundane war time experiences is fascinating. The author also provides extremely tense and vivid explanations of the dog fights over Lei and Port Moresby (real or otherwise).

A good book for the WWII buff who wants real heroic action in every page.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-06-2021

Deep Insight from a wwii naval air samurai

Fantastic perspective from the other side of the war, very moving. Loved the part with the bomber wanting to do a loop, vivid in my minds eye.

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