The Breaking Jewel by Makoto Oda
(Weatherhead Books on Asia)

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Set on an island in the South Pacific during the final days of World War II, when the tide has turned against Japan and the war has unmistakably become one of attrition, The Breaking Jewel offers a rare depiction of the Pacific War from the Japanese side and captures the essence of Japan's doomed imperial aims. The novel opens as a small force of Japanese soldiers prepares to defend a tiny and ultimately insignificant island from a full-scale assault by American forces. Its story centers on squad leader Nakamura, who resists the Americans to the end, as he and his comrades grapple with the idea of gyokusai, (translated as "the breaking jewel" or the "pulverization of the gem"), the patriotic act of mass suicide in defense of the homeland.

Well known for his antiestablishment and antiwar sentiments, Makuto Oda gradually and subtly develops a powerful critique of the war and the racialist imperial aims that proved Japan's undoing.

About Makoto Oda

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Makuto Oda is a novelist and peace activist. His first literary fame came with the 1961 bestseller Nan demo mite varo (I'll Look at Anything). He is also the author of Hiroshima, first translated into English as The Bomb and later republished as H. Donald Keene is Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and University Professor Emeritus at Columbia University. He is the author of more than thirty books, most recently, Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852--1912 and Five Modern Japanese Novelists, both published by Columbia. He divides his time between Tokyo and New York City.
Published January 16, 2003 by Columbia University Press. 133 pages
Genres: War, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Oda’s central character Sergeant Nakamura is a skillfully drawn “war lover”: a dedicated solider sworn that “My body will be a bulwark of the Pacific,” and a harsh disciplinarian whose fervor is effectively contrasted, especially in its closing pages, with the more fatalistic dutifulness of his K...

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