by A.J. Barker
Ballantine Books, 1971, 160 pages
A.J. Barker, author of Suicide Weapon,
misappropriated information from recognized primary sources to create this
basic history of Japan's use of suicide weapons in World War II. This photo-filled
book devotes about equal space to the following three types of suicide attacks:
land-based banzai charges, kamikaze aerial attacks, and kaiten manned torpedo
When giving the history of Japan's kaiten, Barker uses
extensive excerpts from the book Kamikaze Submarine by Yokota and
Harrington published in 1962 . Barker does not list this book in the
Bibliography, and he does not mention elsewhere that his information comes
directly from another book.
The chapter on "The human torpedoes" has three
quotations from letters of kaiten pilots (p. 63). However, kaiten pilots never
wrote these words. Instead, the author took these quotes from letters of
kamikaze pilots as published in The Divine Wind by Inoguchi and Nakajima
Japanese names and words have incorrect and inconsistent
spellings in this book. Even when copying from another book, the author makes
mistakes in spellings. This book contains other historical inaccuracies. For
example, Barker alleges that when kaiten pilots were assigned to a mission,
"women were theirs for the asking" (p. 63). However, the former
kaiten pilot Yutaka Yokota (1962, 37) wrote that there were no women on the small island of
Otsushima, where the kaiten base was located.
The overall history presented in this book is accurate,
primarily because Barker took it from firsthand accounts published by Japanese
authors. However, the book provides no references for the sources of specific
statements, so readers cannot tell where history ends and speculation begins.
The following three books cover much of the same ground as Barker in a more
authoritative manner: Suicide Squads by O'Neill, The Divine Wind
by Inoguchi and Nakajima, and Kamikaze Submarine by Yokota and
 For example, the narrative on pages 99-101 is taken from
pages 49-53 in Yokota and Harrington's book.
 The letter excerpts on page 63 of Suicide Weapon come
from pages 198, 207, and 208 in Inoguchi and Nakajima's book.
Inoguchi, Rikihei, and Tadashi Nakajima, with Roger Pineau.
1958. The Divine Wind: Japan's Kamikaze Force in World War II.
Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
Yokota, Yutaka, with Joseph P. Harrington. 1962. Kamikaze
Submarine (originally published as The Kaiten Weapon). New York: Nordon