Interesting look into a forgotten slice of history.
Robert Ruehrdanz’ novel, Chitose Road is hard to characterize. It’s historical fiction; but it’s also a love story. The book reads a lot like a memoir, and it certainly exudes authenticity based on the author’s past experiences in the Army and in Japan. The book takes place almost entirely in Japan in the early 1950s – during and after the Korean War. The novel’s main character, James Q. “Jim” Truax, is drawn into a crazy world of espionage, intelligence… all of which is leavened with Army incompetence, mishaps, bad weather, vindictive officers and Japanese culture.
Shortly after joining the Army in 1953, Truax is thrust into the arcane world of the Army Security Agency (precursor to the National Security Agency or “NSA”). Nothing goes as planned (as is often the case in the US military): his records are lost, he doesn’t get paid, and he fails to receive proper training… the list goes on and on. All the while, Truax attempts to cope with the curveballs life throws his way. He falls in love with his Japanese hosts, their habits, and the country’s beautiful scenery. The reader – like many of US personnel stationed there over the years – will be enthralled to learn about Japan and its people.
The book flows smoothly due to Ruehrdanz’ writing style and the book’s large text make it quite easy to read.
Reviewed by: John Cathcart (2011)
Chitose Road is about a strange cast of Americans stationed on the Island of Hokkaido in the 1950s involving espionage, romance, and crowded living conditions, as they learned how to interact with the Japanese culture during and after the Korean War.