Eyes of the Emperor

Eyes of the Emperor

4.3 28
by Graham Salisbury

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Following orders from the United States Army, several young Japanese American men train K-9 units to hunt Asians during World War II. See more details below


Following orders from the United States Army, several young Japanese American men train K-9 units to hunt Asians during World War II.

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+)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Prisoners of the Empire Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.56(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Eyes of the Emperor

By Graham Salisbury

Random House

Graham Salisbury
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0385729715

Chapter One


August 1941
The Spirit
of Japan

I'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.

Excerpted from Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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