Old Soldiers Sometimes Lie


On November 14, 1947, two years after the war, General Douglas MacArthur met in private with Emperor Hirohito. They spoke for ninety minutes. To this day, there is no official record of what was discussed.

Over five decades ago, MacArthur permitted General Tomayuki Yamashita to be executed for alleged war crimes. Now, Yamashita's granddaughter is determined to clear his name, even if it means unravelling a web of deceit and corruption that may ...

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On November 14, 1947, two years after the war, General Douglas MacArthur met in private with Emperor Hirohito. They spoke for ninety minutes. To this day, there is no official record of what was discussed.

Over five decades ago, MacArthur permitted General Tomayuki Yamashita to be executed for alleged war crimes. Now, Yamashita's granddaughter is determined to clear his name, even if it means unravelling a web of deceit and corruption that may stretch back to the Emperor himself-and a secret pact between Hirohito and MacArthur.

Old Soldiers Sometimes Lie raises disturbing questions about what truly went on in the Pacific in the shadowy years following World War II. A former counterintelligence agent, as well as an award-winning author of espionage thrillers, Richard Hoyt pulls together disparate threads of historical fact and rumor to weave a gripping novel of intrigue and conspiracy in high places.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hoyt's military/political thrillers (Vivienne; Siege) and his mysteries featuring salty Seattle private detective John Denson (Fish Story; Bigfoot) have won him a loyal readership. But even his fans may have difficulty embracing (or even finishing) this dense and convoluted tale about Gen. Douglas MacArthur's role in a corruption scandal involving Emperor Hirohito of Japan, millions of dollars of looted gold hidden in the Philippines and the controversial execution for war crimes of Gen. Tomayuki Yamashita, the Tiger of Malaya, in 1947. It's General Yamashita's American granddaughter, Tomiko Kobayashi, a historian with a Ph.D. from Yale, who jump-starts the narrative while trying to clear her grandfather's name. When her sister sensibly asks her, "Besides us, who's to care?" Tomi replies, "Defenders and detractors of Douglas MacArthur. Anybody who professes to care about truth. History buffs. Lovers of mysteries and detection. All thoughtful people should care...." Perhaps. But more than 400 pages later, despite Hoyt's obvious insider expertise (he was a counterintelligence agent and lives in the Philippines, lovingly portrayed here), the staggeringly large cast of characters and the cloud of true believer's paranoia that hangs over the entire enterprise will likely have tried the patience of most readers. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Hirohito's WWII Chinese loot pops up 50 years later, calling old spooks back into action. More a narration of facts, possible facts, and wouldn't-it-be-incredible-if facts than a straightforward thriller, this latest from Hoyt (Vivienne, 2000, etc.) rejects the notion, pretty much debunked already in Herbert P. Bix's Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan (2000), that Japan's wartime emperor was the unwitting dupe of evil imperialists in his cabinet and was, as most monarchs are, thoroughly involved in increasing his family fortunes, even if it means looting a few countries. The hard-to-swallow activities hang on the adventures of Tomi Kobayashi, Ph.D. (Chicago) and granddaughter of straight-shooting but maligned WWII General Yamashita and his Filipina mistress. Thanks to the miraculous Internet, Tomi has come into possession of the wartime diaries of a long-dead foreign correspondent, leading her to the trail of 11 gold dragons stolen by a yakuza gangster-turned-admiral in the Manchurian invasion and credited to the account of the emperor. The dragons, along with tons of other, less glamorous but equally ill-gotten gains, were hidden in numerous underground sites in the Philippines, a country the Japanese thoroughly expected to retain in a negotiated end to the war. Tomi's inquiries lead her to Kip Smith, a former CIA agent turned photographer, who joins her search, taking her to the Philippines and connecting with old chum Ding Rodriquez, who knows everything there is to know about the politics and history in the islands. The three are shadowed by a pair of modern yakuza who eavesdrop as Ding and Kip retell everything Toni and detail-oriented readers could possibly absorb about thehistoric duplicity of Douglas MacArthur, Hirohito, the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, nearly every Japanese prime minister, and Robin and Roberta Fallon, successors to Jim and Tammy Bakker. Oddly enough, the eavesdropping is thoroughly sanctioned by our heroes, even though they suspect their listeners have orders to kill them once their interminable tale is told. Most of the narration takes place over tasty-sounding regional dishes. Plodding narration and unreconstructed macho attitudes hammer what could have been a pretty cool story to long-lingering death.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765342256
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 11/17/2003
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Hoyt, a graduate of the University of Oregon, is a former fellow of the Washington Journalism Center and holds a Ph.D. in American studies from the University of Hawaii. He served as U.S. army counterintelligence agent, wrote for daily newspapers in Honolulu, and was a stringer for Newsweek magazine. He taught journalism at the University of Maryland and at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Or.

Hoyt is the author of the John Denson mysteries, the James Burlane thrillers and numerous other novels of adventure, espionage and suspense including two under the pseudonym of Nicholas van Pelt. In researching and writing in more than two dozen countries in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, he has ridden trains across the Soviet Union and riverboats down the Amazon. He now lives in the Philippines.

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Read an Excerpt

Old Soldiers Sometimes Lie


Kodama Yoshio


September 19, 1931, Tokio - Well, yesterday was some day, I have to say. At the very same time that Colonel Lindbergh and his wife flew off for China from Fukuoa after a week of passionate nonsense and spectacle, the Japanese army finally went and did it in Manchuria. As the Foreign Office version has it, Chinese soldiers commanded by Marshall Chang Hsueh Liang blew up a section of the Japanese rail line between Darien and Mukden—this in revenge for the Japanese having blown up a train carrying his father, Marshall Chang Tso Lin. Having written off their killing of Chang as a "mistake," the Japanese used the blowing up of Japanese rails as an excuse to capture Mukden. The Kwangtung Army's commander, Lt. Gen. Hayashi Senjuro, enraged by the dastardly Chinese, allegedly ordered the reprisal. A manly Japanese can only take so much from the cowardly Chinese. Lower than worms, they are.

It's obvious to those of us covering the story that the killing of Marshall Chang had been no mistake at all. There was much self-righteous emotion in the Japanese Foreign Office, where we were told that Japan has a railroad in Manchuria and the United States has a canal in Panama. When someone blows up part of their railroad, the Japanese are obliged to respond just as the UnitedStates would if its canal was attacked. So there. The capture of Mukden was entirely logical.

Good old Shiratori Toshio was agitated to the point of getting shrill when he gave us the Foreign Office version of what had happened. He was apparently loaded with the evil Western martini that he has come to love, and so held nothing back. Old we-will-study-the-matter-further Shiratori actually said something. There was no further studying to be done in reply to Colonel Stimson's charge that the Kwangtung army was running amok in Manchuria. Shiratori said it was Stimson who was running amok, not the Japanese army. And we all noticed that he didn't address Stimson as Colonel, his usual practice.

While it may have been indelicate of the secretary of state to point out the truth, it was embarrassing to the limit to the Foreign Office in Tokio.

After four years here, my understanding of the kanji is now getting good enough to sort out all this craziness in Japanese newspapers. This or that leader, or passionate followers of this or that ominous-sounding, high-minded organization are combined in a parade of patriotic confusion. The Japanese appear culturally incapable of doing anything if it is not in a group, and this heated rhetoric is the result. The true believers keep popping up, waving banners, and repeating claims of the glorious Japanese destiny. I wonder if a true-blue patriot joins as many of these organizations as he can.

For example, there is one particularly noisy young Japanese, Kodama Yoshio, who is relentless in his protest. First he was arrested for scattering handbills into the Imperial Diet calling for the masses to rise and overthrow Parliament. But since he was such an ardent, patriotic lover of country, he was released. Then he threw a bucket of excrement on the participants in a May Day Parade. The throwing of manure on chanting lefties is demented inspiration.

Now there, I thought, is a young man to watch.

September 17, 1932, Tokio - I was right about that enthusiastic lover of country, Kodama Yoshio. He's someone who will not yield. He has been arrested for attempting to give Emperor Hirohito papers pleading for increased patriotism.

Kodama is associated with Kenkoku-kai, which translates roughly as the Association of the Founding of the Nation. I know this because I looked his name up in the files after I read an approving article quoting him as saying General Hayashi is a hero and a patriot taking the first bold steps to a new Japanese destiny. What I found was a lover in extreme of patriotic organizations. Kodama has himself founded something called Dorkuritsu Seinen Sha (Independence Youth Society). He is said to be a member of the Kokuryu-kai, which means the Amur River Society, whose aim is to extend Japanese power all the way to the Amur River, the boundary between Manchuria and Russia. The kanji can also be read as the Black Dragon Society, which is more fun to use in my dispatches.

The gist of the Black Dragon Society pitch is the need for order based on a proper hierarchy. This is the doctrine of the Eight Corners of the World Under One Roof, the roof being provided by the emperor of Japan, the direct descendent of the Sun God.



October 6, 1932, Tokio - Kodama Yoshio has been given a six-month sentence for his effrontery in the attempt to lobby the emperor in the streets of Tokio. Being an out-of-control patriot is okay as long as the craziness doesn't involve a member of the royal family. That's still going too far, but I wonder how long even that restraint will last.

Copyright © 2002 by Richard Hoyt

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