Fun Adventure Reading

I just finished reading Zero Over Berlin, by Joh Sasaki. It is, as one would probably guess right away, about a A6M2 Zero over Berlin. Let me tell y'all, I enjoyed it very much, although some of the character development I found kind of bizarre (not distracting or bad, just alien).

The protagonists are Imperial Japanese Navy officers, and the premise of the story is that Hitler decides he might want to build Zeros under license in Germany. The rationale for this fantastic fictional request is reasonable enough. The Germans really did have trouble keeping their fighters in the air over England because of their limited range, and the Zero had a fantastic operational range for a first-rate fighter (one of the reasons was its minimal armor, which the Japanese payed for eventually).

I understand that the Japanese are loathe to bring up any aspects of World War II, so I'm glad to see fiction of this sort coming out. While not focusing on the evil and unsavory aspects of the Axis regimes, it doesn't flinch away from them either. Because they're there, unavoidable, a tragic tone underlies the entire novel, in contrast to the clinical way in which the book is written (or reads in translation). The Rape of Nanking is spoken of explicitly, as are other atrocities committed in China. So is the setting up of comfort girl camps in southeast Asia, Hitler's instability and the desire of much of the German officer corps to be rid of him, and the incredible friction between the Imperial Navy and Army (Edwin P. Hoyt deals with that friction very well in his books), which more than once resulted in bloodshed. Most of the Navy was afraid of provoking the U.S. into war, believing themselves to be incapable of overcoming American size and resources; they would, of course, be proven right.

An interesting novel, especially in light of recent noises being made in Japan for reviving the military, but not frightening (yet). People who pretend not to see evil at all are frightening.

The story is set in 1940, before Japan is officially at war with anyone except China ("officially"?), and before the German invasion of Russia. The Germans vehemently argue against the Japanese going through the U.S.S.R., so the IJN fliers plot a course through British Imperial lands. The book's a lot of fun for that very reason. The Zeros land in French Indochina, India, and Iraq.

And to be honest, I enjoyed the book also 'cause it talked about the nifty machines that inhabited my teenaged imagination. Whee!

If you dig W. E. B. Griffin or Jack Higgins, you'd surely dig on this novel. And you'd cheer on a goodbadguy, like Liam Devlin.