Stephen Hunter

The 47th samurai

The fourth book in the Bob Lee Swagger series, 2007

With thanks, respect, and appreciation to the samurai of the Japanese cinema:

Masaki Kobayashi, Hideo Gosha, Akira Kurosawa, Hiroshi Inagaki, Kenji Misumi, Tokuzo Tanaka, Kimiyoshi Yasuda, Kihachi Okamoto, Tadashi Sawashima, Toshiya Fujita, Haruki Kadokawa, Yoji Yamada, Kazuo Kuroki, Yojiro Takita, Ryuhei Kitamura, Satsuo Yamamoto


Takashi Shimura, Isao Kimura, Toshiro Mifune, Yoshio Inaba, Daisuke Kato, Mioru Chiaki, Seiji Miyaguchi, Tatsuya Nakadai, Shintaro Katsu, Raizo Ichikawa, Tomisaburo Wakayama, Tetsura Tambo, Sonny Chiba, Meiko Kaji, Michyio Aratama, Yunosuke Ito, Datsuke Kato, Yuzo Kayama, Machiko Kyo, Kashiro Matsumoto, Akihiro Tomikawa, Kiichi Nakai, Koichi Sata, Aya Ueto, Masatoshi Nagase, Mieko Harada, Hiroyuki Sandada


the great Shinobu Hashimoto

Turn, hell-hound, turn!





21 FEBRUARY 1945

A quiet fell across the bunker. Dust drifted from the ceiling. The burnt-egg stench of sulfur lingered everywhere.


It was a private. Takahashi, Sugita, Kanzaki, Asano, Togawa, Fukuyama, Abe-who knew the names anymore? There had been so many names.

“Sir, the shelling has stopped. Does this mean they’re coming?”

“Yes,” he said. “It means they’re coming.”

The officer’s name was Hideki Yano and he was a captain, 145th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, under Yasutake and Ikeda, attached to Kuribayashi’s 109th Division.

The blockhouse was low and smelled of sulfur and shit because the men all had dysentery from the tainted water. It was typical Imperial Army fortification, a low bunker of concrete, reinforced over many long months, with oak tree trunks from what had been but was no longer the island’s only oak forest, the sand heaped over it. It had three firing slits and behind each slit sat a Type 96 gun on a tripod, a gunner, and a couple of loaders. Each field of fire fanned away for hundreds of yards across an almost featureless landscape of black sand ridges and marginal vegetation. The blockhouse was divided into three chambers, like a nautilus shell, so that even if one or two were wiped out, the last gun could continue to fire until the very end. It was festooned everywhere with the latest imperative from General Kuribayashi’s headquarters, a document called “Courageous Battle Vows,” which summed up everyone’s responsibilities to the Sphere.

Above all else, we shall dedicate ourselves to the

defense of this island.

We shall grasp bombs, charge the enemy tanks and

destroy them.

We shall infiltrate into the midst of the enemy and

annihilate them.

With every salvo we will, without fail, kill the enemy.

Each man will make it his duty to kill ten of the

enemy before dying.

“I am scared, sir,” said the private.

“I am too,” said Yano.

Outside, the captain’s small empire continued. Six pits with Nambu guns in each, each gun supported by gunner, loader, and two or three riflemen flanked the empire to left and right. In further spider holes were martyrs with rifles. No escape for them; they knew they were dead already. They lived only to kill those ten Americans before they gave their lives up in sacrifice. Those men had it the worst. In here, no shell could penetrate. The concrete was four feet thick, riven with steel rods. Out there a naval shell from the offshore fleet could turn a man to shreds in a second. If the shell landed precisely, no one would have time for a death poem.

Now that the attack was upon them, the captain became energized. He shook off the months of torpor, the despair, the terrible food, the endless shitting, the worries. Now, at last, glory approached.

Except of course he no longer believed in glory. That was for fools. He believed only in duty.

He was not a speech maker. But now he ran from position to position, making sure each gun was properly cocked and aimed, the loaders stood ready with fresh ammunition strips, the riflemen crouched to pick off the errant demon American.


A boy pulled him aside.

“Yes?” What was the boy’s name? He could not remember this one either. But these were all good boys, Kagoshima boys, as the 145th was drawn from Kyushu, the home of Japan ’s best soldiers.

“I am not afraid to die. I am eager to die for the emperor,” said the boy, a superior private.

“That is our duty. You and I, we are nothing. Our duty is all.”

But the boy was agitated.

“I am afraid of flames. I am so afraid of the flames. Will you shoot me if I am engulfed in fire?”

They all feared the flamethrowers. The hairy beasts were dishonorable. They chopped gold teeth from dead Japanese, they bleached Japanese skulls and turned them into ashtrays and sent them home, they killed the Japanese not decently, with gun and sword-they hated the blade!-but so often from miles out with the big naval shells, with the airplanes, and then when they got in close, they used the horrible hoses that squirted flaming gasoline and roasted the flesh from a man’s bones, killing him slowly. How could a warrior die honorably in flames?

“Or the sword, Captain. I beg you. If I burn, behead me.”

“What is your name?”

“Sudo. Sudo from Kyushu.”

“Sudo from Kyushu. You will not die in flames. That I promise you. We are samurai!”

Вы читаете The 47th samurai
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату