Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Mark Obmascik shares the incredible story of two men fighting for opposing sides and tangled in the complexities of World War II in his book The Storm on Our Shores: One Island, Two Soldiers, and the Forgotten Battle of World War II. He exposes how our enemy isn’t as different as we think, the lasting effects of war and the process of finding forgiveness and peace. 

Obmascik’s bestselling book focuses, on the one end, on Paul Nobuo Tatsuguchi, a native of Hiroshima who had graduated from medical school in California. He fell in love with the lifestyle and culture of the United States, and then moved his other love, his girlfriend, to be with him, later proposing to her at Yosemite National Park.

But as the seeds of war began to sprout, Tatsuguchi came to believe he must remain loyal to his native country, so ultimately, he enlisted in Japan’s Imperial Army. He regularly kept a detailed written record of his daily tasks, memorable events, feelings, and most of all, the moments of pure fear he encountered often during his deployment. He was entirely oblivious to the fact that one day, American soldiers would be greatly moved by the same scribbled sentence fragments in that personal diary.  

Dick Laird, from the coal mining fields of Appalachia, enlisted in the United States Army, believing it was his ticket out of poverty. After Pearl Harbor, Laird was sent to Attu Island in Alaska, which was occupied by the Japanese. One morning, he found that one of the American mortars had been captured and was pointed back towards the U.S. troops. His response was to throw grenades at the location where he spotted the opposing side. 

When he stopped and examined the surrounding area, he was stunned that he had killed eight men. He found some notes written on one of the bodies, which he thought might be important plans or even top-secret information. He later realized it was the address book and diary of a man who spoke of his wife and children back home, and opened up about his fears during the war. 

Obmascik also shares the story of Laura Tatsuguchi Davis, the daughter of Paul Nobuo Tatsuguchi. Laura and her mother were visited at their home by a stranger who one day offered various worn-out items, asking if any belonged to them. When he attempts to leave, Laura sensed there was something strange going on. Turns out one of the items was the same diary that held the original hand-written sentences that had opened the eyes of so many soldiers, no matter what side they were willing to die for. 

Guest:

  • Mark Obmascik, author of The Storm of Our Shores: One Island, Two Soldiers, and the Forgotten Battle of World War II

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