Professor McGlynn, an expert on Japan who expects to leave government service at the end of World War II, is instead prevailed upon by his government to aid the occupation effort. His family and their acquaintances, who serve in an array of positions--from lawyers at the war-crimes trials to news correspondents-- reflect the perceptions and concerns of all strata in the occupied country.
OCCUPATION is a seamless blend of fact and fiction. The historical figures in the trials of those Japanese accused of war crimes are in the forefront of the book; the struggles in the personal lives of the fictional characters serve as an often-ironic backdrop. The effort headed by General Douglas MacArthur to restore Japan and provide the country with a new government is no more impressive in scope and importance than the effort of the people of both sides to restore their lives and, similarly, seek new principles of organization.
Underlying the fictional effort, and crucial to the historical one, is the tone of the book: an articulate appreciation of the fundamental differences between Japanese and American cultures. Because of these differences, deliberate and accidental misunderstandings lead to the appearance of the worst of each country. Despite the tragedies, the book supports the idea that both spiritual and physical justice can be achieved.
John Toland’s sensitivity to the Japanese mind is as eloquently apparent here as in any of his historical works. That sensitivity is exceeded only by his sympathy for the human race, struggling for order in trying times.