Taken Captive
Author: Shohei Ooka
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Shinchosha Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 1967
Translations: French
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Country Languages Publisher Title ISBN Translator Affiliate Link
France French Belin Journal d'un prisonnier de guerre 978-2701143606 François Compoint
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Widely considered one of Shohei Ooka's best works, this series of linked stories based on the author's World War II experiences offers an unblinking portrayal of the egotism and degeneration of human beings cut off from the larger world.

The book opens with a young Japanese soldier's flight from U.S. forces landing on the Filipino island of Mindoro, followed by his capture and year-long detention in a POW camp. Before Capture, the first tale, takes a penetrating look into human nature based on a minute psychological analysis of the protagonist's inability to shoot an American soldier he encounters during combat. The subsequent episodes, set in a military hospital and in detention, paint the camp as a miniature version of postwar Japanese society, thereby indirectly satirizing Japan as it was during the U.S. Occupation.

Although the initial draft of Taken Captive was completed in 1946, its descriptions of the author's harsh wartime experiences failed to pass Occupation censors, and the book was not published until two years later. This first edition received the Yokomitsu Riichi Prize in 1949. Ooka continued to add new episodes over time, eventually producing the version that is known today.