This Week’s Book Review – Rain of Steel

Looking for a good read? Here is a recommendation. I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review. You do not have to agree with everything every author has written (I do not), but the fiction I review is entertaining (and often thought-provoking) and the non-fiction contain ideas worth reading.

Book Review

The US Navy faces off Kamikazes at Okinawa

“Rain of Steel: Mitscher’s Task Force 58, Ukagi’s Thunder Gods and the Kamikaze War off Okinawa,” by Stephen L. Moore, Naval Institute Press, 2020, 456 pages, $39.95 (Hardcover)

As the war turned against them in World War II, Japan tried a new tactic: the kamikaze. Pilots used their aircraft as one-way bombs against Allied warships and transports.  The campaign started during the invasion of the Philippines in October 1944 and continued until the last day of the war.

“Rain of Steel: Mitscher’s Task Force 58, Ukagi’s Thunder Gods and the Kamikaze War off Okinawa,” by Stephen L. Moore, examines the most intense phase of the kamikaze campaign, that fought during the Allied invasion of Okinawa.

Moore touches on the whole of the kamikaze effort. He looks at its origins, how the Japanese developed it, and their kamikaze attacks prior to and after the conquest of Okinawa. He also examines the US reaction to the campaign, including the tactics developed to counter the kamikazes. The meat of the book is the fighting off Okinawa, however.

Moore casts the fight as a duel between two leaders. Vice Admiral Ugaki Matome coordinated the Japanese effort at Okinawa, launching ten Kikusui aerial kamikaze offensives. Vice Admiral Marc “Pete” Mitscher commanded Task Force 58, the US Navy’s fast carrier force, during the Okinawa campaign. He simultaneously led the US aerial offensive against Okinawa and the counteroffensive against the kamikazes.

The book tells this story through the eyes of its participants, particularly Marine and Navy pilots manning the aircraft flying off Task Force 58 carriers. The book includes material culled through interviews of surviving pilots who participated in the campaign, as well as post-war memoirs and diaries of those no longer alive.

Moore also includes other participants – sailors aboard ships suffering under kamikaze attack, the Marines and US Army soldiers fighting ashore at Okinawa, and those at bases supporting the effort. He also examines the kamikazes, using their diaries and final letters to give readers a sense of their feelings.

All of this is combined into an account putting the kamikaze campaign into context. Moore examines its strengths and weaknesses. He shows the individuals who fought, showing their fears and hopes, while placing the events of the battle in a coherent framework.

“Rain of Steel” is a rare book. It offers a fresh look at a campaign now 75 years in the past. Combining contemporary records, declassified material, newly unearthed source material, and recent interviews, Moore brings the past into the present.  He lets readers see the battle through the eyes of the participants.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.

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5 thoughts on “This Week’s Book Review – Rain of Steel”

  1. My dad was on a destroyer manning the radar picket line north of Okinawa. They had to hold position which meant the Japanese could dial them in for the kamakazies. 30 hours of attack and they finally broke the ship in two.

    I never got the story from him. I had to find an obscure out of print book written by another survivor who laid it out long after Dad was gone.

    Such books have value beyond belief.  Every child moving to adulthood would be well served to read a few, if only to understand the shoulders the stand upon.

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  2. TKC 1101:
    My dad was on a destroyer manning the radar picket line north of Okinawa. They had to hold position which meant the Japanese could dial them in for the kamakazies. 30 hours of attack and they finally broke the ship in two.

    I never got the story from him. I had to find an obscure out of print book written by another survivor who laid it out long after Dad was gone.

    Such books have value beyond belief.  Every child moving to adulthood would be well served to read a few, if only to understand the shoulders the stand upon.

    If only it even occurred to the last few generations that they do stand on any shoulders at all! It seems they are born completely jaded; believe they came into a pre-fab world tailored to their every desire. They automatically pocket all the material wellbeing into which they are born, take for granted that they will be fed, clothed, sheltered, “educated” in “safe spaces”, and are then loosed (un-moored as they are to any values beyond instant emotional gratification) to begin their nihilist rampages. Fully entitled to the riches in which they are immersed through no effort of their own, then -addict-fashion – they begin craving the next high from either acquiring the latest/greatest gadget, the newest designer drug or the injustice du jour in urgent need of a riot. It never occurs to them how the future of the world hung in the balance (that their even coming into existence was imperiled) as recently as during their parents lifetimes. All that is irrelevant to them.

    I am pretty sure that being part of a rampaging mob generates the same neurotransmitters in the brain as an IV dose of heroin or fentanyl. Righteous indignation is the drug of choice of much of the present generation (of course they use other drugs when more convenient), whose goal is not recognition of the shoulders upon which they stand, but the search for entire bodies of the un-woke over which to trample. Note, in this regard, that an academic announced the other day – for the sake of his students, no doubt – that it was morally acceptable to kill the poor fellow who was murdered in Portland because he was a “fascist”. We are witnessing, again in living memory, the labeling of groups of human beings who were deemed unworthy of keeping their very lives. And today, that justification comes from the academy, whose most essential job used to be to teach the history and context of civilizational material and moral progress. The events described in this book took place – in terms of historical time – only yesterday. The fact these events have been deliberately rendered meaningless by the very academies charged with remembering, contextualizing and teaching them, is irrefutable evidence of our imminent civilizational collapse.

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  3. civil westman:
    If only it even occurred to the last few generations that they do stand on any shoulders at all! It seems they are born completely jaded; believe they came into a pre-fab world tailored to their every desire. They automatically pocket all the material wellbeing into which they are born, take for granted that they will be fed, clothed, sheltered, “educated” in “safe spaces”, and are then loosed (un-moored as they are to any values beyond instant emotional gratification) to begin their nihilist rampages. Fully entitled to the riches in which they are immersed through no effort of their own, then -addict-fashion – they begin craving the next high from either acquiring the latest/greatest gadget, the newest designer drug or the injustice du jour in urgent need of a riot. It never occurs to them how the future of the world hung in the balance (that their even coming into existence was imperiled) as recently as during their parents lifetimes. All that is irrelevant to them.

    I blame this on parents who were too lazy to teach anything to their children, and instead blithely trusted Big Education to do that job, which is rightfully the parents’ responsibility.

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  4. TKC 1101:
    My dad was on a destroyer manning the radar picket line north of Okinawa. They had to hold position which meant the Japanese could dial them in for the kamakazies. 30 hours of attack and they finally broke the ship in two.

    I never got the story from him. I had to find an obscure out of print book written by another survivor who laid it out long after Dad was gone.

    Such books have value beyond belief.  Every child moving to adulthood would be well served to read a few, if only to understand the shoulders the stand upon.

    The book covers a lot of this.

    I will be writing a book about the Kamikaze campaign next year. This book was a good starting point.

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  5. The Japanese had human sacrifice.  The US had proximity fuses.    Intelligence does exist, it can be measured, it does make a difference.  When DemSoc attempts to loot, plunder, and pillage the suburbs…DemSoc discovers where all the winners live.  When DemSoc attempts to loot, plunder, and pillage rural America…DemSoc discovers where all the the armed patriots live.  A century of dear hunts matters.

    youtu.be/5ju4Gla2odw

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