Eyes of the Emperor is written in the first person point-of-view from the perspective of Japanese American, Eddie Okubo. He lies about his age to join the US Army just as America is entering WW2. The story that ensues is a personal account of 16 year old Eddie's experience in the Army, including the racism he encounters, which is just as terrifying to him as the threat of the enemy.
Salisbury has been praised for this realistic work of historical fiction. Much of the story draws from personal accounts taken by interviewing various Japanese Americans veterans. The point of view has likewise been praised for providing an immediate connection to the emotions these Japanese soldiers certainly experienced. In addition to the pride and patriotism of serving a country they desperately wanted to believe in, there was an equal amount of humiliation from segregation, racism, and the sheer ignorance of others.
Written at a level appropriate for 7th grade and up, this book provides students with an opportunity to understand the concept of prejudice and the realities of war in a personal way. Yet, it also intertwines positive lessons in patriotism and the equality of the human condition. Rather than reading like an impersonal history lesson, the point-of-view paints a realistic portrayal of events and emotions that students can connect to and remember.