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Eyes of the Emperor

Review

Eyes of the Emperor

Sixteen-year-old Eddy Okubo is tired of just sitting around Honolulu helping his father fix up boats. He has already graduated from high school, and two of his good friends have already joined the U.S. Army. Despite the fact that Eddy's father is still fiercely loyal to Japan (a portrait of the emperor graces their foyer), Eddy knows he's an American through and through. As World War II grows ever closer to American shores, Eddie fudges his birth certificate so that he can join the military too.

At first, Eddy's father is deeply disappointed that Eddy has turned his back on Japan to join the American military. But when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, everything changes. Soon Eddy's father begins to respect Eddy's loyalty to their new country.

Life in the military is not easy for Eddy and his friends. All Americans of Japanese descent, even those in the military, are under suspicion. Eddy's friend Cobra says, "To them we all look like Hirohito. They see us, they see the guys in those planes dropping bombs on them. We got the eyes of the Emperor. They scared of us. Scared."

Eddy and his all-Japanese-American platoon travel from place to place, unsure of their mission or of their role in the army. Soon, they travel to the Gulf of Mexico to help with the training of highly skilled K9 dog troops. But Eddy and his friends are not there to be trainers for the dogs; instead, they are there as targets for the dogs to prepare to attack Japanese soldiers. How can the young men maintain their faith in their country --- and in themselves --- in the face of the prejudice and misunderstanding they have encountered?

Graham Salisbury has explored the attack on Pearl Harbor in his previous novel, UNDER THE BLOOD-RED SUN. In EYES OF THE EMPEROR, he again sheds light on a troubling period of American history. The impact of the Japanese attacks on Americans of Japanese ancestry is explored with sensitivity and attention to detail. In the character of Eddy, Salisbury explores how, in the wake of such turbulence, one young man must discover what it means to be a son, a man, and an American.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on August 9, 2005

Eyes of the Emperor
by Graham Salisbury

  • Publication Date: August 9, 2005
  • Genres: Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
  • ISBN-10: 0385729715
  • ISBN-13: 9780385729710