Reviews for Ghosts Of Honolulu

by Mark Harmon and Leon Carroll Jr

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

It’s no secret that Japanese spies worked in Hawaii in the years before Pearl Harbor, but there was also a Japanese American agent working to foil them. Screen actor Harmon and NCIS technical adviser Carroll try their hand at history, and it’s mostly a success—at least for readers who can acclimate to present-tense narration and occasionally overheated prose. As relations with Japan deteriorated during the 1930s, intelligence services worried about the loyalty of Hawaii’s largest minority, Japanese Americans, although local officials found little disturbing evidence. The reality was that local Japanese officials were gathering information on island defenses, and in 1940, Japan sent an agent, Takeo Yoshikawa, to work at it full-time in the consulate. Counterespionage in Hawaii was the responsibility of local police and several government agencies, but the authors focus on the Office of Naval Intelligence and its first Japanese American agent, Douglas Wada, hired in 1937. Wada spent most of his time translating and interpreting, but he also kept an eye out for suspicious activities. In the first half of the book, Yoshikawa spies while Wada goes about his business. After the attack, Japanese diplomats, including Yoshikawa, were arrested and later exchanged. Hawaiian intelligence services were on the alert, although little of consequence turned up. In what is now agreed to be a disgraceful episode of national racism, all Japanese Americans were regarded as disloyal, and 120,000 people of Japanese descent were arrested and sent to internment camps. A few hundred people on Hawaii were detained, but there were no mass arrests. Some scholars credit American intelligence for assuring the White House that Hawaii’s Japanese Americans were loyal, but practical reasons predominated: Locking up more than one-third of the island’s population would wreck its economy. Neither Yoshikawa nor Wada was a significant historical figure, but they lived long enough to be interviewed and written about, providing material for this revealing account. Though sometimes unnecessarily breathless, this is decent military history that will appeal to World War II buffs. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.