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January 03 , 2010

Tokyo Rose / An American Patriot

A Dual Biography


Tokyo Rose / An American Patriot explores the parallel lives of World War II legend Tokyo Rose and a Japanese American woman named Iva Toguri. Trapped in Tokyo during the war and forced to broadcast on Japanese radio, Toguri nonetheless refused to renounce her U.S. citizenship and surreptitiously aided Allied POWs. Despite these patriotic actions, she foolishly identified herself to the press after the war as Tokyo Rose. An examination of U.S.-monitored English language radio transcripts from Japan between December, 1941 and April, 1942 shows only one innocuous broadcast by a female. Yet in April, 1942 a news correspondent with the U.S. Navy reported that sailors in the Pacific theater routinely listened to Tokyo Rose's propaganda. This book assembles for the first time a collection of images from American pre-war popular culture that provided impetus for the legend. It analyzes the wartime situation of servicemen, which caused their imaginations to create the mythical femme fatale even though no Japanese announcer ever used the name Tokyo Rose. Using interviews conducted over decades, this dual biography also explores Toguri's character and decisions by placing her story and conviction for treason in the context of U.S. and Japanese racial views, Imperial Japan, and Cold War politics. New research findings prompt a different perspective on her sensational trial, the most expensive in U.S. history up to that time. Misguided strategy by Toguri's defense attorney and her deceptive testimony about a key event led to the jury's verdict as surely as the perjury suborned by prosecutors.
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