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Welcome!! My name is Paul Lappen. I am in my early 50s, single, and live in Connecticut USA. This blog will consist of book reviews, written by me, on a wide variety of subjects. I specialize, as much as possible, in small press and self-published books, to give them whatever tiny bit of publicity help that I can. Other than that, I am willing to review nearly any genre, except poetry, romance, elementary-school children's books and (really bloody) horror.

I have another 800 reviews at my archive blog: http://www.deadtreesreviewarchive.blogspot.com (please visit).

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Dragon of the Mangroves

Dragon of the Mangroves, Yasuyuki Kasai, iUniverse, Inc., 2006

This is a World War II novel told from the Japanese point of view.

In early 1945, part of the Japanese Twenty-eight Army is sent to Ramree Island , off the coast of Burma, to blunt the Allies' counter-offensive. While they are there, one of the soldiers, Superior Private Kasuga, asks a local villager about the horrible smell coming from Myinkhon Creek, which separates the island from the mainland. It comes from the man-eating crocodiles that inhabit the creek.

Fierce fighting against British and Indian troops drives the Japanese to the eastern edge of the island. Their only option is to swim Myinkhon Creek (which is a couple of hundred yards wide) to reach the mainland. Private Kasuga smells that crocodile smell again, and tells his sergeant, who is not sympathetic. The men are ordered to start swimming, at night.

Meantime, Second Lieutenant Sumi has been sent from the mainland, on a desperate mission to rescue as many soldiers as possible. A couple of more direct rescue attempts failed disastrously. Renting several rickety Burmese fishing boats, Sumi and several soldiers land at the south end of Ramree Island (it is not a small island). They have to walk for several days through thick jungle, to reach the Twenty-eighth's last known position. Are they in time? Is there anyone left to rescue?

This is a good novel (inspired by a true story) that shows Japanese soldiers as real people, with loved ones back home. It also shows them dealing with a huge shortage of food and water, ammunition and military leadership. The appearance of the crocodiles takes up only a little bit of the end of the book. Otherwise, it is short, and worth reading.

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