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Cambridge University Press
Expected online publication date:
June 2024
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Book description

Only one elite Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer survived the cruel ocean battlefields of World War II. This is her story. Brett Walker, historian and captain, delves into questions of mechanics, armaments, navigation, training, and even indoctrination, illustrating the daily realities of war for Yukikaze and her crew. By shifting our perspective of the Pacific War away from grand Imperial strategies, and toward the intricacies of fighting on the water, Walker allows us to see the war from Yukikaze's bridge during the most harrowing battles, from Midway to Okinawa. Walker uncovers the ordinary sailor's experience, and we see sailors fight while deep-running currents of Japanese history unfold before their war-weary eyes. As memories of World War II fade, Yukikaze's story becomes ever more important, providing valuable lessons in our contemporary world of looming energy shortfalls, menacing climate uncertainties, and aggressive totalitarian regimes.


'This lively tale is a classic strategy-and-battles military history, buttressed by keen insights into the role of technology, Japanese aesthetics, and brilliance wrapped in stupidity. Yukikaze was blessed with excellent leadership, brave, skilled sailors, and good fortune but while those qualities explain the ship’s rare survival through 1945, they could not compensate for the cascade of fundamentally reckless and callous decisions that characterized Imperial Japan’s war. The book reads like a romp but it is an elegy.'

Laura Hein - Harold H. and Virginia Professor of History, Northwestern University

'Brett Walker’s imaginative, absorbing biography of the celebrated destroyer Yukikaze tells the story of Japan’s war in the Pacific from eye-opening new perspectives. At turns exhilarating and heartrending, this fast-paced narrative compellingly reframes the political dynamics, technological innovations, environmental implications, and profound human tragedy of the greatest naval conflict in history.'

William M. Tsutsui - Chancellor and Professor of History, Ottawa University


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