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Eyes of the Emperor

Eyes of the Emperor

4.3 28
by Graham Salisbury

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Eddy Okubo lies about his age and joins the army in his hometown of Honolulu only weeks before the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. Suddenly Americans see him as the enemy—even the U.S. Army doubts the loyalty of Japanese American soldiers.

Then the army sends Eddy and a small band of Japanese American soldiers on a secret mission to a small island off the


Eddy Okubo lies about his age and joins the army in his hometown of Honolulu only weeks before the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. Suddenly Americans see him as the enemy—even the U.S. Army doubts the loyalty of Japanese American soldiers.

Then the army sends Eddy and a small band of Japanese American soldiers on a secret mission to a small island off the coast of Mississippi. Here they are given a special job, one that only they can do. Eddy’s going to help train attack dogs. He’s going to be the bait.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
According to PW's starred review, this companion to Under the Blood-Red Sun narrated by a Japanese-American soldier in the U.S. Army in 1941, "brims with memorable and haunting scenes." Ages 12-16. (Jan.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Just weeks after Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, sixteen-year-old Eddy Okubo, a Hawaiian of Japanese descent, enlists in the United States Army. Wanting to defend his country, he encounters a continuation of the "Japanese problem"-Japanese American soldiers are segregated and given menial jobs. Machine guns are trained on them. He is constantly called a "Jap." Stationed in a Midwest base adjacent to an internment camp housing Japanese Americans and Japanese prisoners of war, he realizes that his country makes no distinction between them: "To them we all look like Hirohito." Twenty-five Japanese American soldiers, including Eddy, are handpicked for a special assignment. A Swiss scientist has convinced President Roosevelt that dogs can be trained to locate Japanese because of their unique smell. Eddy and his buddies are the "bait.o Salisbury ably crafts an adventure story from an actual but little-known World War II project. The action will keep readers turning pages. The prejudice that Eddie encounters is realistically portrayed. Scenes describing Eddy hiding in the swamp waiting for dogs to locate and attack him are vivid. The book will generate interest in this ill-advised project, and the author's note and glossary of Hawaiian and Japanese words are helpful. Although readers might select this book for a school assignment, librarians can also recommend it as a tale of action, bravery, and self-realization. A good companion novel to Harry Mazer's A Boy at War (Simon & Shuster, 2001), it should be included in middle, junior high school and public libraries. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2005, Wendy Lamb Books/Random House, 240p.; Glossary., Ages 11 to 15.
—Ed Goldberg
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Salisbury continues to make his mark by bringing alive the time in Hawaii when the U.S. entered World War II. Eddy, a 16-year-old Japanese American, tells how he and his buddies, Chik and Cobra, become part of Company B of the 100th Infantry Battalion following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Without discounting the community's old loyalties to Japan, the story makes clear the transition caused by the declaration of war, and by the desire to be part of the great fight to protect America. These young men are patriotic, but the powers that be have a hard time trusting their dedication. The novel is based on historical fact, and Salisbury brings events vividly to life as he recounts one humiliation after another foisted on the troops, from the top down to their immediate commanders. In one scene, these soldiers are heading to training camps on trains that pass internment camps for other Japanese Americans. As the actual assignment unfolds-they are to act as bait in the training of attack dogs-the pernicious racism and absurd beliefs are further revealed. The immediacy of the writing allows readers to imagine themselves as one of the boys. A story with huge implications for observers of current events.-Carol A. Edwards, Douglas County Libraries, Castle Rock, CO Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Salisbury chronicles the true story of Hawaiian soldiers of Japanese descent following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Eddy Okubo has an evolving understanding that Japanese Americans are no longer trusted, even if they are serving in the U.S. armed forces. "To them we all look like Hirohito. . . . We got the eyes of the Emperor," they realize. Eddy and 25 others are sent to Cat Island, Miss., where their humiliation is absolute. They are part of an experiment (based on a racist, erroneous theory that Japanese smell different from Caucasians) to see if army dogs can be trained to scent Japanese soldiers. Through a process of merciless brutalization, the dogs will be trained to hate, hunt and attack "the bait." Eddy can only face this cruel duty by reconciling it with his vow to wipe out the shame his father felt after Pearl Harbor, and to prove his loyalty and his worthiness to serve. Salisbury's tone, both unsentimental and unsensational, renders his telling all the more powerfully affecting. Morally and psychologically complex, historically accurate and unforgettably gripping. (author's note, glossary) (Historical fiction. 12+)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Prisoners of the Empire Series
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
HL600L (what's this?)
File size:
4 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

1Honolulu,August 1941The Spirit of JapanI'd be lying if I said I wasn't afraid."Bad, bad times," Pop mumbled just yesterday, scowling to himself in the boatyard while reading the Japanese newspaper, Hawaii Hochi. He mashed his lips together and tossed the paper into the trash.  I pulled it out when he wasn't looking. Some haole businessmen were saying all Japanese in Hawaii should be confined to the island of Molokai. Those white guys thought there were too many of us now; we were becoming too powerful. The tension outside Japanese camp in Honolulu was so tight you could almost hear it snapping in the air.And to make things worse, Japan, Pop's homeland, was stirring up big trouble.In 1931, when I was six, the Japanese invaded Manchuria, and they had been pushing deeper into China ever since. Less than a year ago, they'd signed up with Germany and Italy to form the Axis, all of them looking for more land, more power. Then, just last month, Japan flooded into Cambodia and Thailand.And my homeland, the U.S.A., was getting angry.President Roosevelt was negotiating with Japan to stop its invasions and get out of China, but nothing seemed to be working.And for every American of Japanese ancestry, Pop was right--these were bad, bad times.That summer I'd just turned sixteen. Me and my younger brother, Herbie, who was thirteen, helped Pop build boats in his boatyard, a business he'd had since he and Ma came to Hawaii from Hiroshima in 1921. Pop had been making sampan-style fishing boats all his life. He had a skilled apprentice named Bunichi, fresh off the boat from Japan by two years. With all of us helping out, Pop's business managed to survive.We were finishing up a new forty-footer for a haole from Kaneohe, the first boat Pop had ever made for a white guy. And there would be more, because Pop's reputation had grown beyond Japanese camp. Without question, there was no better boatbuilder in these islands than Koji Okubo, my pop. We'd been working on this one for more than seven months now, ten hours a day, six days a week.  I was painting the hull bright white over primed wood soaked in boiled linseed oil. I had to strain the paint through fine netting so it would go on like silk, leaving no room for the smallest mistake. Pop lived in the Japanese way of dame oshi, which meant everything had to be perfect.The paint fumes were getting to me, so I climbed down off the ladder to go out back for some fresh air. A small, flea-infested mutt got up and followed me into the sun. I'd found him a couple of months ago licking oil off old engine parts in the boatyard, and I'd given him some of my lunch. Now that ratty dog stuck to me like glue. I called him Sharky because he growled and showed teeth to everyone but me. Pop didn't like him, but he let him live at the shop to chase away nighttime prowlers.Pop's shop was right on the water, and just as I walked outside, a Japanese destroyer was heading out of Honolulu Harbor, passing by so close I could hit it with a slingshot. A long line of motionless and orderly guys in white uniforms stood on deck gazing back at the island. I squinted, studying them as Sharky settled by my feet. Pop suddenly ghosted up next to me, wiping his hands on a paint rag. I could see him in the corner of my eye. He was forty-eight years old and starting to get a bouncy stomach. A couple inches shorter than me, about five three. His undershirt was white and clean, tucked into khaki pants that hung on him like drying laundry, bunched at his waist with a piece of rope. He had short gray hair that prickled up on his tan head. As usual, he was scowling.Sharky got up and moved away. Pop pointed his chin toward the destroyer. "That's something, ah?" he said in Japanese. "Look at all those fine young men." They looked proud, all right."To them," Pop went on, unusually talkative, "the Emperor is like a god. They would be grateful to die for him."Grateful to die? Pop's eyes brightened. "The spirit of Satsuma," he said. "That's what lives in those boys--the unbeatable fighting spirit of Satsuma."He nodded in admiration, then continued on over to the lumber pile to look for something.What Pop said gave me the willies, because he wanted me and Herbie to be just like those navy guys, all full up with the national spirit of Japan, Yamato Damashii. Pop kept a cigar box of cash savings hidden somewhere in the house, money to send us back to Tokyo or Hiroshima to learn about our heritage. "You are Japanese," he would say. "How can you learn about your culture and tradition if you don't go to Japan?"Sure, but what if I got there and war came because the U.S. and Japan couldn't work things out? What if I got trapped and dragged into the Japanese army--or navy, like those guys on that ship? What would I do then? Because I sure didn't feel that kind of spirit. I wasn't a Japan Japanese. I was an American. Pop's newspaper had said that people around Honolulu were worried they had a "Japanese problem" on their hands--us. What would Japanese Americans do if Japan and the U.S. went to war? Where would our loyalties lie?It was ridiculous, because there was nothing to worry about.

Meet the Author

Graham Salisbury is the author of several novels. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Eyes of the Emperor 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Eyes of the Emperor was an ok book. Some things I liked about it were that it took the side of the Japanese-Americans and saw thins through their eyes. Normal World War II books don’t look at this side of the war. Unlike normal war books which only go through the battles, this book lets us get to know the characters. Eddy in the book showed what some of the Japanese-Americans went through to prove their loyalty to America. Having to make the dogs hate you by hitting them and intentionally having dogs chase you and hunt you down must have been very hard for them. Over all it was an ok book some parts bored me and that’s why I give it 3 stars. I recommend this book only to people who really want to read it and are interested in the Japanese-American side of the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read. Appropriate for the age group. Read in one day!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book but I think it was kind of sad at the end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think it was really good! Read it!!!!!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you loved Under the Blood Red Sun, you'll find this one just as good. I really enjoyed the emotion of the book. I felt what the characters were feeling, and the description made me understand why they were feeling that way. I totally felt their frustration with racism, stereotypes, and lack of respect. The climax of the story was amazing. The struggle and hardships earned Japanese Americans, in the U.S. army, respect from Americans all over the nation. The plot was interesting as well, reading it I kept wishing that it was non-fiction. This book gives a very strong feel of family, friendship, respect and loyalty. The whole book is very powerful and extremely moving. The ending is abrupt, but it seems to fit the book. Overall it was a good book. Great for anyone who likes historical fiction, down to earth emotions and understanding of family and what it really means to people. NKF
DemetriusJ More than 1 year ago
The book "Eyes of the Emperor," by Graham Salisbury was an okay book. It wasn't bad, but it was not a book that would really catch my interest. The book is not like your typical war book that just focuses on the war and battles; it mainly focuses on the Japanese American soldiers and their struggles in the U. S Army. There is not really that much action taking place in it like other war books would usually have, but their were times in the book where their would be mystery and suspense, which would make you be kind of anxious to see what was going to happen next. An example was when they Japanese soldiers were out patrolling an area in complete darkness and Eddy the main character and another soldier heard sounds, but couldn't see anything so they fired their rifles into the dark. When day came they found out it was a cow they shot not another person like they were scared they did. If I would recommend this book to anyone I souls recommend it to people who like reading books about social issues and war.
LukeD More than 1 year ago
The Book Eyes of the Emperor was not as great of a book as I expected it to be. I really wish there was a lot more detail. There were good parts in the book such as boat fires but when those kind of things did happen, there was not much detail. There was maybe like a page at the most for details of major. They also abused animals and you don't do that kind of stuff. I think the author of this book does not have the strength to write about real life events
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PRG13 More than 1 year ago
The book Eyes of the Emperor was an average book, not a great book. It was a book that takes place around the time of World War II. Eddy, the main character, is of Japanese descent and wants to be an American soldier, but because the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, the Japanese were not trusted. He was able to become a soldier, but Eddy has to face an incredibly hard job on the island where he works. He trains attack dogs and is sometimes injured himself. The book is about his struggle to become a trusted soldier and be allowed to fight in the war. Some parts of the book are very interesting and suspenseful, but other parts are slow and boring to read. A lot of the story is about the day-to-day struggles that seem to repeat themselves and aren't all that entertaining to read. I enjoy a more action-packed or suspenseful story that keeps you turning the page.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was great. I didn't want to put it down at some points because I wanted to know what happened next. Some parts were not so great because there wasn't a lot of action. The book had some very interesting ways on how what some Americans thought of American-Japanese especially the ones living on Hawaii. Many of them weren't trusted because of their decent. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys WWII books or any other war books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The title of the book that I have read is called Eyes of the Emperor, written by Graham Salisbury. Salisbury¿s¿ purpose for writing this particular story was to honor those who were faced with racial discrimination but were still Americans during World War Two, like the Japanese ancestry. His goal was to prove that all human beings are equal and deserve the same amount of respect. Even though he wrote this book about the Japanese, who were discriminated for there heritage during the war, he was trying to show that discrimination still occurs today. For instance, when the U.S. went to war with Iraq many Muslim-Americans were discriminated for their appearances. The author¿s main targeted age group is teenagers, because we are still developing a sense of character. In order to have well-rounded citizens, the young adults will have to be shown what not to do. The narrator, an American soldier, believes that everyone is equal regardless of their ancestry or how they look. The point put across was that they were all human beings. We share the same basic necessities in life, and in order to coexist there must be fairness to all. It was imperative that Eddy Okubo is the narrator of the story because he is easily relatable in many ways. Throughout the book you grow to feel the way he does, trying to make a change in prejudice, and trying to prove that everyone deserves the same treatment. The interpretation of Eddy¿s time period by the author was very accurate. Once the Japanese had waged war upon the U.S., the American view of Japanese-Americans changed to fear and mistrust. The book is very accurate to actual events during the war. There were no parts in this book that were unbelievable mainly because of its historical basis. The character that I connected with the most was the main character Eddy because we are the same age. We are also the same in the way that he was thought down on by his father for wishing to serve his country. My father shunned me as soon as he heard that I was enlisting. But Eddy¿s lucky in the sense that his father forgave him and ended up giving him respect. The other connections that I made with this character were his different reactions to situations in the book which were similar to mine if I was in those positions. Salisbury¿s goal was to honor the Japanese-Americans who fought during the war. They were selected to perform degrading tasks based on their looks and smells, but overcame valiantly against their obstacles. His success for this book was contributed by the real stories from the original men who had worked on the island training the k-9 units for different objectives. The movie that I think is most similar is ¿Glory.¿ I think this because of the discrimination that the freed slaves endured during the Civil War. The significance of the title Eyes of The Emperor is a symbol of the honor and respect, which the Japanese uphold within themselves, like their ancestors had done before them which was their ancient customs of respect that was required by the emperor of Japan. I would have to recommend this book to Ms. Rogal, my teacher, because she is a history buff and this books basis is historical events. I found this book to be rather engaging because of the main characters experiences which caused you to feel everything that he experiences. I strongly agree with the theme of this book, that every person deserves to be treated equally. I liked the ending but wished that it was continued to explain the story further, so I would be able to find out what happens next. I would give this book a rating of five out of five. Like Franklin D. Roosevelt said, ¿Americanism is a matter of the mind and heart Americanism is not and never was a matter of rave or ancestry.¿