“Mark Obmascik has deftly rescued an important story from the margins of our history—and from our country’s most forbidding frontier. Deeply researched and feelingly told, TheStorm on Our Shores is a heartbreaking tale of tragedy and redemption.” —Hampton Sides, bestselling author of Ghost Soldiers, In the Kingdom of Ice, and On Desperate Ground
The heart-wrenching but ultimately redemptive story of two World War II soldiers—a Japanese surgeon and an American sergeant—during a brutal Alaskan battle in which the sergeant discovers the medic's revelatory and fascinating diary that changed our war-torn society’s perceptions of Japan.
May 1943. The Battle of Attu—called “The Forgotten Battle” by World War II veterans—was raging on the Aleutian island with an Arctic cold, impenetrable fog, and rocketing winds that combined to create some of the worst weather on Earth. Both American and Japanese forces were tirelessly fighting in a yearlong campaign, and both sides would suffer thousands of casualties. Included in this number was a Japanese medic whose war diary would lead a Silver Star-winning American soldier to find solace for his own tortured soul.
The doctor’s name was Paul Nobuo Tatsuguchi, a Hiroshima native who had graduated from college and medical school in California. He loved America, but was called to enlist in the Imperial Army of his native Japan. Heartsick, wary of war, yet devoted to Japan, Tatsuguchi performed his duties and kept a diary of events as they unfolded—never knowing that it would be found by an American soldier named Dick Laird.
Laird, a hardy, resilient underground coal miner, enlisted in the US Army to escape the crushing poverty of his native Appalachia. In a devastating mountainside attack in Alaska, Laird was forced to make a fateful decision, one that saved him and his comrades, but haunted him for years.
Tatsuguchi’s diary was later translated and distributed among US soldiers. It showed the common humanity on both sides of the battle. But it also ignited fierce controversy that is still debated today. After forty years, Laird was determined to return it to the family and find peace with Tatsuguchi’s daughter, Laura Tatsuguchi Davis.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Obmascik brings his journalistic acumen, sensitivity, and exemplary narrative skills to tell an extraordinarily moving story of two heroes, the war that pitted them against each other, and the quest to put their past to rest.
Mark Obmascik is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and bestselling author of The Big Year, which was made into a movie, and Halfway to Heaven. He won the 2009 National Outdoor Book Award for outdoor literature, the 2003 National Press Club Award for environmental journalism, and was the lead writer for the Denver Post team that won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Denver with his wife and their three sons.
“Here is a part of World War II that most of us not only forgot—we never knew it happened in the first place. Mark Obmascik has deftly rescued an important story from the margins of our history—and from our country's most forbidding frontier. Deeply researched and feelingly told, TheStorm On Our Shores is a heartbreaking tale of tragedy and redemption.”—Hampton Sides, bestselling author of Ghost Soldiers, In the Kingdom of Ice, and On Desperate Ground
“A riveting true tale of a soldier’s lost diary, The Storm on Our Shores is a vital reminder of grace, forgiveness and the power of words to heal.” —Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being
“Mark Obmascik is a master storyteller. He writes with tremendous grace about a forgotten part of our history, telling the same story from two opposing points of view—perhaps the only way warfare can truly be understood. He brings to life in gritty detail the enormity of the sacrifices made on both sides of the conflict, and thus enables us to appreciate the terrible price of war anew.”— Helen Thorpe, author of Soldier Girls, The Newcomers, and Just Like Us
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