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Ghosts of Honolulu: A Japanese Spy, A Japanese American Spy Hunter, and the Untold Story of Pearl Harbor Review

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by Mark Harmon

v 6

“Ghosts of Honolulu: A Japanese Spy, A Japanese American Spy Hunter, and the Untold Story of Pearl Harbor,” co-authored by screen actor Mark Harmon and NCIS technical adviser Leon Carroll, presents a compelling narrative set against the backdrop of World War II-era Hawaii. This historical account delves into the clandestine world of espionage during the critical years leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack, focusing on two central figures: Douglas Wada, the only Japanese American agent in naval intelligence, and Takeo Yoshikawa, a Japanese spy.

The book paints a vivid picture of Hawaii in 1941, where the impending war with Japan transformed the islands into a hotbed of espionage activities. The narrative is centered on the activities of Wada and Yoshikawa, with Wada working in naval intelligence to monitor potential threats within the Japanese community in Hawaii and Yoshikawa operating as a spy within the Japanese consulate. Wada’s duties included posing undercover as a newspaper reporter, translating wiretaps on the Japanese Consulate, and interrogating a captured Japanese submarine officer, while Yoshikawa was busy collecting vital information for Admiral Yamamoto, the mastermind behind the Pearl Harbor attack.

The authors, utilizing their backgrounds in acting and technical advising for the television series NCIS, have crafted a story that provides an intricate look at the espionage games played between the U.S. and Japanese intelligence agents in Hawaii. The narrative also touches on the broader social and political context of the time, highlighting the experiences of Honolulu’s residents, including Wada’s father, as they navigated the war’s anti-Japanese fervor. The book underscores the challenges faced by intelligence professionals in preventing the mass internment of Japanese Americans in Hawaii, a fate that befell many in California.

Harmon and Carroll’s exploration of this historical period is based on scrutinizing long-buried documents, offering a perspective on the high-stakes game of naval intelligence and the complexities of discerning reality from deception. “Ghosts of Honolulu” provides an in-depth look at a crucial chapter in American history, shedding light on the contributions and challenges of Japanese American intelligence agents like Wada and the intricate espionage activities that preceded the attack on Pearl Harbor​.

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