The Flowers of Edo
By Michael Dana Kennedy
(Vertical, Hardcover, 9781934287804, 544pp.)
Publication Date: June 15, 2010
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Kenji Kobayashi is a decorated intelligence officer during World War II. Recently assigned to a battleship in the Pacific, Kenji fears that he may no longer see Japan again. Worried that his twin brother Tomoyuki may have fallen during a battle in the South Pacific, he briefly prays to a makeshift altar he has created in the cramped officers cabin he has been secretly stowed into. Only a handful of officers and military brass are aware he is on this ship, so his prayers, like his actions, may not ever go noticed. Still he clutches a prayer amulet given to him by his mother in his hand as smoke from a stick of incense surrounds him hoping to someday be reunited with them all; either in this life or at a burial plot in the Imperial Military shrine Yasukuni Jingu.
Preparing himself for a briefing with the ship's captain, he quickly begins to dress himself. Materials are scarce everywhere now, and he is wearing a suit previously worn by a fallen soldier. It is loose on his small frame, even though Kobayashi is exceptionally tall for a Japanese officer. Once dressed, he arms himself leaving his small sword behind, while holstering his pistol.
With a knock on the cabin door, he is then quickly and stealthily lead away to the ship's war room. His presence brings a once loud and smoke-filled room to a complete standstill. The response he receives is frigid at best, almost hostile. Clearly this officer is not welcomed here. Intelligence, or not, he is not going to make the acquaintance of most in the room, nor does he want to. The captain, however approves, and calls him into his quarters to meet with a other officers of high rank to plan their attack and potential invasion...of Japan.
Lt. Kobayashi is now face to face with an Admiral in the US Navy on board USS Missouri! He is not only the guest of honor for this meeting at sea, the intelligence he has gathered while living in Japan and in campaigns across Asia is partially why the brass are welcoming him this evening. Operation Downfall is about to commence and the fate of hundreds of thousands of soldiers from Britain, Australia, China and the U.S. hang in the balance as the Allies attempt to engage on the largest land invasion in history!
"It is a gripping, historical novel focused on the final months of WWII, with an authentic Japanese setting and an intriguing plot. Both entertaining and educational--a delightful adventure and experience!" --Admiral James. R. Hogg, Naval Commander Seventh Fleet (retired)
"The Flowers of Edo is an imaginative account of Japan's final days of World War II as seen through the eyes of Ken Kobayashi...from the Philippines to Japan in a complex plot whose twists and turns produce a fast-paced drama filled with the larger-then-life personalities of the time, large doses of Japanese history and culture, and a surprising conclusion." -- Edward J. Drea Ph.D author of Japan's Imperial Army.
"The author's detailed research gives authenticity to the narrative, making the story very believable indeed. Should be enjoyed by younger generations as well as those of us who lived through the Pacific War." --Linda Goetz Holmes, Pacific War Historian, author of Under the Rising Sun.
Michael Dana Kennedy is a Boston native. After graduating from Harvard University with a dual major in history and political science, he attended Tufts University School of Medicine for two years before withdrawing to pursue a career in clinical research. In the late '80s he returned to academia when he entered M.I.T., with a focus on computer science. Kennedy founded two medical technology companies, both of which he sold.
He then turned his attention to his life-long interest in history and began researching and writing his debut novel, The Flowers of Edo. Research for the book led him to live in Japan for six months. He spoke before members of Japan's Ministry of Defense at their headquarters in Ichigaya, Tokyo, where he was presented with an official daishō sword set for his findings.
"The Flowers of Edo is a gripping combination of military action and cultural analysis, which offers a unique and provocative perspective on the history that was -- and might have been -- between Japan and the United States."--James Fallows, Atlantic Monthly
“A page-turner! Kennedy managed to weave all that historical detail with a compelling and moving narrative…a daunting challenge even for even the most seasoned writer.”—Sean Smith, Newsweek
"It is a gripping, historical novel focused on the final months of WWII, with an authentic Japanese setting and an intrguing plot. Both entertaining and educational--a delightful adventure and experience!" —Admiral James. R. Hogg, Naval Commader Seventh Fleet (retired)
“I felt I was right there in the briefing room...It has been my experience that most novelists fail to fully grasp a foreign culture, particularly if the subject deals with four centuries of history. Kennedy has achieved that on a par with James Clavell and James Michener.” —Libby H. O’Connell Ph.D, Senior Vice President and Chief Historian for the History Channel
"With some experience of Japan, the Japanese military and military history, compelling reading and a subtle blend of history and fiction. [Kennedy’s] knowledge of the Pacific War is rather remarkable." —Paul Beaver, Jane’s Magazine
"The Flowers of Edo is an imaginative account of Japan's final days of World War II as seen through the eyes of Ken Kobayashi...from the Philippines to Japan in a complex plot whose twists and turns produce a fast-paced drama filled with the larger-then-life personalities of the time, large doses of Japanese history and culture, and a surprising conclusion." –Edward J. Drea Ph.D author of Japan's Imperial Army.
"The author's detailed research gives authenticity to the narrative, making the story very believable indeed. Should be enjoyed by younger generations as well as those of us who lived through the Pacific War." —Linda Goetz Holmes, Pacific War Historian and author of Under the Rising Sun
“From my perspective of Japanese-American history, [Kennedy’s] characterizations and citations of the era were accurate and genuine. The novel should shed important light on this crucial period of Japanese and American history.” —Gary Okihiro, Director of the Center for Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University
“Kennedy’s book will provoke very interesting reflection on the ways in which the American experience of multi-cultural diversity has confronted members of many different groups with challenges to carve a personal path through family, love, loyalty, and identity.” –Ted Bestor, Professor of Japanese Studies Harvard University
“If I were teaching a course on Modern Japan I would consider assigned The Flowers of Edo as a supplemental reading on the Pacific dimension of World War II. That is high praise.” —Donald Teruo Hata Ph.D, Emeritus Professor of History California State University at Northridge