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FICTION

THE LAST KAMIKAZE by M. E. Morris (Random House: $19.95; 368 pp.) The author of three previous thrillers, Navy Capt. M.E. Morris has picked a dandy “what if” premise in his latest work, “The Last Kamikaze.” Here, on Aug. 14, 1945, we have 17-year-old Flight Petty Officer Saburo Genda revving the motor of his Zero in what would surely be one of the last great suicide missions aimed at the U.S. battleships closing in on Japan. At the last minute, the mission is scrubbed on news of Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies. This is the bitterness that young Genda carries with him into postwar life under the occupation. Now, as ceremonies are unfolding at Pearl Harbor on the 50th anniversary of the attack, Dec. 7, 1991, the aging Genda, nearing death from leukemia but kept alive by his burning hatred, prepares for that one, final kamikaze attack that was denied him a half a century earlier. The unlikely plot works brilliantly.


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