Battleship Yamato: Of war, beauty and irony

By Jan Morris
The book includes 50 illustrations
Published by Pallas Athene Books

In Battleship Yamato: of war, beauty and irony, Jan Morris with a neat, poetic and forceful prose, not only tells the dramatic story of the magnificent WW II Japanese battleship itself – from secret wartime launch to futile sacrifice 200 miles from Okinawa – but, more fundamentally, interprets the ship as an allegorical figure of war itself, in its splendour and its squalor, its heroism and its waste.

Importantly Jan Morris doesn’t surrender face of the cruel havoc wrecked by war and she finds a meaning, beyond the rubble and death, in forgiveness and hope – both kindling our extraordinary human ability for resilience.

Please see a brief video about the book:

The challenge

A small format, illustrated book about a battleship which despite playing an important role in Japanese war history, isn’t well-known by the general public in Europe. In short, the book’s topic could be perceived as very narrow.

The solution

Make the most of Jan’s high-level profile. Moreover, stress to journalists the main message emerging from the book, beyond the fate of Battleship Yamato: human kindness, and the human ability to forgive over time, can redeem some of the worst scars left by war. Through the Centuries, these vital values have enabled people to build on the desolate ashes left by destruction and to begin life again.

The result

It took some time to get a response from the media, but in the end, after many emails and calls, journalists responded to the initial press release with great interest. The Daily Telegraph’s Review supplement (ABC controlled circ. 476,466) made the book its cover story and devoted a full two pages to an excerpt. The prestigious ‘Lunch with the FT’ page, in the Saturday Financial Times’ Life & Arts section, interviewed Jan, and the Times’ Saturday Review featured the book. Moreover, The Spectator, The New Statesman and The Week, all reviewed or interviewed Jan. Leading BBC R4 morning news programme, The Today programme, interviewed Jan and so did the main BBC R3 literary programme, The Verb, who dedicated a full episode to her.