Vintage £8.99 (225pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop : 08430 600 030
Kamikaze, By James Delgado
Friday 22 January 2010
No, it's not about an earlier generation of suicide bombers, but the destructive force that gave them their name. In 1281, the Mongol emperor Khubilai Khan brought together two massive fleets to attack Japan. According to legend, the joint force consisted of 4,400 ships and over 100,000 troops.
An advance party prepared the way and Japan would certainly have fallen but for a "sacred wind" or kamikaze that destroyed the Khan's fleet. Items recovered include swords, fragmentation bombs and the remains of an officer called Wang.
This investigation, by a leading marine archaeologist, reveals that the Khan's fleet may have been ripped apart by a hurricane, but the death toll was exacerbated by shoddy boat-building and possibly sabotage between the two invading fleets. "In the end, the kamikaze was a convenient fiction for both sides."
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