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military history

A Curious Madness: An American Combat Psychiatrist, a Japanese War Crimes Suspect, and an Unsolved Mystery from World War II

Eric Jaffe.
Publisher Scribner  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.25 x 6.25 x 1.05 inches
ISBN 9781451612059
Pages/Publication Date 305/2014
Daedalus Item Code 53955
This item is not available.
The author of The King's Best Highway: The Lost History of the Boston Post Road, Eric Jaffe here chronicles the unlikely convergence of two remarkable figures in the aftermath of World War II, one of whom was his grandfather, U.S. Army psychiatrist Major Daniel Jaffe. Allied leaders charged 28 Japanese men with crimes against humanity, with evidence seeming to fall most heavily on ten of the accused. In December 1948, five of these defendants were hanged while four received sentences of life in prison; the tenth was a brilliant philosopher-patriot named Okawa Shumei, whose story proved strangest of all. Among all the political and military leaders on trial, Okawa was the lone civilian. In the years leading up to World War II, he had outlined a divine mission for Japan to lead Asia against the West, prophesized a great clash with the United States, planned coups d'etat with military rebels, and financed the assassination of Japan's prime minister. Okawa's guilt as a conspirator appeared straightforward. But on the first day of the Tokyo trial, he made headlines around the world by slapping star defendant and wartime prime minister Tojo Hideki on the head. Had Okawa lost his sanity? Or was he faking madness to avoid a grim punishment? Major Jaffe was assigned to determine Okawa's ability to stand trial. Though he was no stranger to madness—he had seen it his whole life, since growing up with his mother in Brooklyn—Jaffe now held Okawa's fate in his hands. As the story pushes both Jaffe and Okawa toward their postwar confrontation, it explores such diverse topics as the roots of belligerent Japanese nationalism, the development of combat psychiatry during World War II, and the complex nature of postwar justice.

"The Nuremberg Trials have been written about extensively, but there was another post-WWII military tribunal, which has received much less attention. In Tokyo in 1946, 30 former Japanese military leaders, including Tojo Hideki, general of the Japanese army and architect of the attack on Pearl Harbor, were put on trial for their lives. Also on trial was a civilian, writer and philosopher Okawa Shumei, whose erratic behavior in the courtroom led to his being assessed by Japanese and American experts to determine whether he was insane, or faking. The American expert was Daniel Jaffe, a U.S. Army psychiatrist.... This gripping book explores not only the Okawa case but also a hidden part of the author's grandfather's life. The author delves into both men's backgrounds and offers an opportunity to put Okawa's and Jaffe's actions at the tribunal in a larger context, to understand, in particular, how Jaffe's personal history influenced his assessment of Okawa."—Booklist

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