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  • Published: 27 August 2024
  • ISBN: 9780806542935
  • Imprint: Kensington
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $55.00
Categories:

Most Honorable Son

A Forgotten Hero’s Fight Against Fascism and Hate During World War II



Foreword by Naomi Ostwald Kawamura of Densho

Introduction by William Fujioka of JANM

Afterword by Jonathan Eig

The first comprehensive biography of unjustly forgotten Japanese American war hero Ben Kuroki, who fought the Axis powers during World War II and battled racism, injustice, and prejudice on the home front.

Foreword by Naomi Ostwald Kawamura of Densho

Introduction by William Fujioka of JANM

Afterword by Jonathan Eig

The first comprehensive biography of unjustly forgotten Japanese American war hero Ben Kuroki, who fought the Axis powers during World War II and battled racism, injustice, and prejudice on the home front.

Ben Kuroki was a twenty-four-year-old Japanese American farm boy whose heritage was never a problem in remote Nebraska—until Pearl Harbor. Among the millions of Americans who flocked to military stations to enlist, Ben wanted to avenge the attack, reclaim his family honor, and prove his patriotism. But as anti-Japanese sentiment soared, Ben had to fight to be allowed to fight for America. And fight he did.

As a gunner on Army Air Forces bombers, Ben flew fifty-eight missions spanning three combat theaters: Europe, North America, and the Pacific, including the climactic B-29 firebombing campaign against Japan that culminated with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He flew some of the war’s boldest and bloodiest air missions and lived to tell about it. In between his tours in Europe and the Pacific, he challenged FDR’s shameful incarceration of more than one hundred thousand people of Japanese ancestry in America, and he would be credited by some with setting in motion the debate that reversed a grave national dishonor. In the euphoric wake of America’s victory, the decorated war hero used his national platform to carry out what he called his “fifty-ninth mission,” urging his fellow Americans to do more to eliminate bigotry and racism at home.

Told in full for the first time, and long overdue, Ben’s extraordinary story is a quintessentially American one of patriotism, principle, perseverance, and courage. It’s about being in the vanguard of history, the bonding of a band of brothers united in a just cause, a timeless and unflinching account of racial bigotry, and one man’s transcendent sense of belonging—in war, in peace, abroad, and at home.

  • Published: 27 August 2024
  • ISBN: 9780806542935
  • Imprint: Kensington
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $55.00
Categories:

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Praise for Most Honorable Son

Praise for Most Honorable Son: A Forgotten Hero’s Fight Against Fascism and Hate During World War II

“In Most Honorable Son, journalist-turned-historian Gregg Jones introduces readers to one of the most courageous airmen of World War II. A Japanese American gunner, Ben Kuroki not only flew a staggering fifty-eight combat missions over three continents in World War II, but also battled the racism and resentment so common on the home front at that time. In Jones’s talented hands, readers will accompany Ben from the Nebraska farm fields to the heavens over North Africa, Europe, and Japan with pit stops in a Spanish prison and the internment camps in Wyoming and Idaho. This is an amazing story—and amazingly well told. Superbly researched, fast-paced, and heartfelt, this is narrative history at its finest.” —James M. Scott, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Black Snow and Rampage

Most Honorable Son is a WWII roller coaster of patriotism, perseverance, duty, dedication, and the bravery of bomber gunner Ben Kuroki—made more powerful by the hatred he endured at home as a Japanese American, despite completing fifty-eight missions against Germany and Japan. He never wavered, becoming a nationally known postwar opponent of prejudice and bigotry. An inspirational read that showcases the Greatest Generation’s greatest legacy.” —Scott McGaugh, New York Times bestselling author of Brotherhood of the Flying Coffin: The Glider Pilots of World War II

“Ben Kuroki was championed as the first Nisei war hero of World War II, and this boy from Nebraska has long deserved a full-length biography. Gregg Jones has come through with a meticulously researched and compelling story that vividly captures the man behind the myth.” —Frank Abe, filmmaker, Conscience and the Constitution

“There were very few Japanese Americans who served in the US Army Air Forces during World War II. But there was one who made the headlines back then. Gregg Jones meticulously recounts Ben Kuroki’s amazing, death-defying journey through World War II. But this is not just about the first Japanese American war hero—it’s about the other B-24 and B-29 fliers over Europe and the Pacific from the first raids against the Germans in France to firebombings of the major cities of Japan and the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Along this journey we get a very different perspective of the Japanese American experience during the war from Kuroki, finding himself lauded by many though despised by some he thought were his own people.” —Bill Kubota, documentary filmmaker, Most Honorable Son, PBS, 2007

“This story has it all: soaring drama, tragedy, and an unforgettable hero who struggles against foreign enemies and domestic prejudice. Most Honorable Son—prodigiously researched and expertly crafted—is an unforgettable work of history.” Jonathan Eig, National Book Award long-list finalist and New York Times bestselling author of King: A Life and Ali: A Life

Most Honorable Son is a gripping World War II story that speaks to us todayabout the ravages of war and racism in America. Through meticulous research, Gregg Jones has created a vivid portrait of a Japanese American farm boy who changed history.” Dale Maharidge, nonfiction Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Bringing Mulligan Home: The Other Side of the Good War and The Dead Drink First podcast

“With captivating detail and clarity, Gregg Jones brings to life Ben Kuroki’s incredible military accomplishments, along with his deeply felt motivations and the complex challenges he faced. In the process, we gain a fuller appreciation for the intersection between the Nisei war heroes such as Kuroki and the draft resisters such as Yosh Kuromiya and the roles they have played in our Japanese American heritage.” Susan Kamei, author of When Can We Go Back to America? Voices of Japanese American Incarceration During WWII

“From page one, Most Honorable Son is hard to put down. Told with skill and aplomb, Most Honorable Son is an essential addition to the annals of the war by putting a spotlight on Ben Kuroki’s overlooked heroism. Kuroki once said he looked Japanese but had the heart of an American. Most Honorable Son reminds us that America is everyone.” Kevin Maurer, New York Times bestselling author of No Easy Day and Damn Lucky

“Gregg Jones has penned an instant classic with Most Honorable Son, the story of Nebraska-born Japanese American Ben Kuroki, who through sheer determination found a way to fight for his beloved America after Pearl Harbor despite countless obstacles and racism. From ground-bound Army Air Forces clerk safely out of combat to a B-24 and B-29 bomber crewman, Ben Kuroki took part in some of the bloodiest air battles of World War II. Throughout his fifty-eight missions, he was captured and interned by Spanish forces, fought against every Axis power, and triumphed in his quest to prove his loyalty to the United States the night his crew bombed Tokyo. Gregg Jones has created a masterpiece with this biography of one of America’s most unusual and transformative heroes of World War II. Not to be missed.” John R. Bruning, New York Times bestselling author of Indestructible and Race of Aces

Most Honorable Son is a masterclass in history and biography. This book is a testament to the courage of one individual who defied stereotypes and racial attacks to serve his country in the greatest armed struggle the world has ever known. From Japanese internment camps in the United States to the fight for survival in the skies of Germany and Japan, Jones has produced a work that should be required reading for anyone who seeks to understand not only the individual motivations of just one member of the Greatest Generation, but also why they fought as a unified whole. This is history as it should be written.” Dr. Brian D. Laslie, Command Historian at the United States Air Force Academy and author of Fighting from Above: A Combat History of the US Air Force

“History is replete with forgotten stories. Gregg Jones has unearthed a key one, filling a significant void in WWII historiography and illuminating the American experience. Beautifully written, Jones takes the reader from the dusty farms of Nebraska to the flak-filled skies over Ploiesti and, later, the perilous air over Japan. Vivid and compelling, Most Honorable Son reveals a story of true courage: Ben Kuroki earned three Distinguished Flying Crosses, but this narrative also shows that some of the toughest battles are often fought at home.” Patrick K. O’Donnell, historian and bestselling author of The Indispensables and The Unvanquished

Most Honorable Son is a poignant portrayal of the first Japanese American hero of World War II—a forgotten soldier who devoted his postwar life to combatting bigotry and hatred. Meticulously researched, Gregg Jones’s labor of love brings Ben Kuroki alive, installing him to his rightful place in history while shedding light on a complex story of American valor.” Sally Denton, author of The Colony and American Massacre

“Gregg Jones has performed a public service with his rescue of the tale of Ben Kuroki from forgotten archives of World War II. This account of a Japanese American who flew fifty-eight combat missions on three continents is a compelling story of real patriotism and pure heroism. Kuroki’s brave fight against racial prejudice and his courageous service as a gunner on perilous bombing raids will inspire and thrill readers. Most Honorable Son is an exciting book—and a truly important one.” —Doug J. Swanson, author of Cult of Glory: The Bold and Brutal History of the Texas Rangers