Recent Reviews & Notices

Two reviews of Rainbow Over Hell have been posted at kilroywashere.org.

Musician/artist Yoshika Caraig has read Rainbow Over Hell in both Japanese and English. She calls it a "one-of-a-kind story, which no one should miss" and says, "Once one starts reading it, one cannot put it down."

Patrick Tillery, editor of Kilroywashere.org, calls the book a "gripping read" and "one of the best personal descriptions of warfare I have seen." He heartily recommends this book to anyone "but especially those Marines who fought on Saipan."

Patrick Tillery also gave it a five-star review on Amazon.com (Rainbow Over Hell is not yet available on Amazon.com, but I anticipate that it will be in the near future.)

Many thanks to Yoshika and Patrick for the wonderful reviews!

Announcements about Rainbow Over Hell also appear on Stone & Stone Second World War Books and Axis History Forum. It is also mentioned in the most recent Spectrum blogsphere.

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Presentation: Pacific Union College Pre-Vespers

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking about Rainbow Over Hell to a small group of English majors and professors at my alma mater, Pacific Union College in the Napa Valley.

The students I spoke to were around the same age as Saburo Arakaki was during the Battle of Saipan. As such, I focused on the idea that we are all chosen for lives of significance. Saburo Arakaki's life was preserved and renewed, I believe, so that he might live a life of significance. Likewise, I wanted to emphasize the idea that no matter what the specifics of our lives may be, we are each meant to make a positive impact in the world.

I also spoke briefly about what it has been like for me to work as a writer. Being a writer and a person of faith brings a certain tension to one's work. Jewish writer Chaim Potok often said that this was a constant but beautiful struggle. I encouraged students to own that struggle and to explore it in their writing.

Perhaps more interesting than my presentation--and certainly more exciting--was the fact that our trip to PUC coincided with the arrival of President George W. Bush in the Napa Valley. President Bush helicoptered in and out of Angwin Airport on the PUC campus, bringing unusual excitement and bustle to the normally bucolic town of Angwin.

Bush spent the weekend at the upscale Meadowood Resort, just down the hill from the college, and on Saturday morning rode his mountain bike in the woods behind PUC.

Apparently, Napa Valley had been crawling with secret service agents for a week, and over the weekend, the normally quiet Angwin skies were abuzz with the sounds of helicopters and a fighter jet patroling the area.

This afternoon, we found ourselves in a small crowd of onlookers at Angwin's main intersection, which had been blocked off by CHP cars. A line of armed sheriffs stood along one side of the street. Twenty minutes later, the Presidential motorcade rolled into Angwin, preceded by a line of CHP cars marked "Forward Sweep" and "Forward Escort."

The Presidential motorcade consisted of about ten black SUVs with tinted windows, a SWAT team, an ambulance, dark vans marked "staff," and white vans with the press corps. It appeared that the President's car was the only one driving on the far side of the street away from the crowd. What seemed like an excessively long line of CHP cars and motorcycles followed.

My husband managed to snap a photo of the motorcade as they rolled through the intersection at full speed. (We only had a camera-phone, hence the low resolution):

Bush was scheduled to helicopter out of Angwin and make a visit to the California Fuel Cell Partnership in West Sacramento, and as we made the return trip to Sacramento, Interstate 80 came to a complete stop for several minutes just outside of West Sacramento.

Bush's visit to Northern California has brought out protesters and supporters alike. On Friday afternoon, Silverado Trail in the Napa Valley was lined with about 2,000 protestors--some calling for him to step down--and a few Bush supporters among them. In Angwin, one skate-boarding student held up an amusing sign that read "I don't like your face or politics, George," while others cheered and waved American flags at the President's motorcade. A bomb squad was called in during Bush's Sacramento visit.

With the U.S. at war in Iraq, there seems to be a growing and volatile split between Bush supporters and critics. Saburo Arakaki's life serves, I think, as a reminder of the impact of war on an individual level, and that's something we need to be reminded of in times of war and peace alike.

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Interview: Capital Public Radio

Audio File
For those who are interested, an audio file of my interview on Capital Public Radio is now available here. (To listen, click on the link, scroll halfway down on that page, and click on the "Listen" button. My interview starts about one-third of the way into the program and lasts about 15 minutes.)

It was a privilege to be interviewed by Jeffrey Callison on "Insight" and to be able to talk about Rainbow Over Hell. I don't think I've ever stepped into a radio studio before. As such, the production side of it was fascinating to me. Here are some behind-the-scenes tidbits:

-The "Insight" studio was a small sound-proof room with a table in the center and mics on the table. The host, Jeffrey Callison, sat on one side of the table, facing me and a window into the next room, where the producers were overseeing the show.

-Before the program, Mark Jones, technical director, and James Scott, associate producer for that day's program, gave me directions as far as where to sit, what excerpt I would be reading, and how close I should be to the table mics. (The mics have the size, shape, and color of healthy eggplants, I might add. Very large and purple.)

-The first few minutes of the program consisted of a pre-recorded segment and the news, and Jeffrey wasn't even in the studio yet. About six minutes into the show, he came breezing down the hallway and stepped into the studio to pick up when the pre-recorded segment ended.

-While waiting to be called into the studio, I sat in the waiting room and listened to the show as it was being broadcast on the radio. Interestingly, since there's an 18-second delay, and you can hear the radio broadcast and the muffled sounds from the studio across the hall at the same time, and they don't match.

-Between the first segment and my interview, there was a 60-second break, during which the associate producer whisked me from the waiting room into the studio. Within seconds, the producers ran a sound-check, Jeffrey greeted me, we were told to stand by, and then we were on-air.

-Jeffrey prefers not to meet his guests before the program, in order to reserve the freshness of first conversations for air time, and so I literally met him seconds before we were on-air. Although Jeffrey appeared to have some notes or questions in front of him, I wasn't provided with a list of questions prior to the interview, and our conversation was fairly unscripted.

-When my interview was completed, there was a 90-second break, during which I was whisked out of the studio.

It was absolutely fascinating to see how live radio is produced. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to talk about Rainbow Over Hell on "Insight" and to meet some of the hardworking people who put this show together each weekday.

Favorite Moment
I think my favorite moment was being introduced as a Sacramento writer. It's nice to feel like you belong to a place and that this place claims you as its own.


FAQ: Upcoming Radio Interview

People have been asking me about my upcoming radio interview, and so I thought it might be helpful to post answers to some frequently asked questions:

When is the interview?
It's on Wednesday, April 12, 2006. It will air sometime between 2 - 3 p.m. (Pacific Time).

What program are you being interviewed for?
I will be interviewed on Jeffrey Callison's "Insight" program on Capital Public Radio (KXJZ). Capital Public Radio is the Sacramento, California region's National Public Radio affiliate.

How long will the interview be?
I've been told that it will be about 20 minutes long.

How can I listen to the interview?
No matter where you are in the world, you can listen to the interview streaming live on the internet. To do so, around 2 p.m. Pacific Time on Wednesday, April 12, 2006, go to CapRadio.org and click on the "Listen Live" link at the top left corner of the page. In the Sacramento, CA region, you can also tune your radio dial to 88.9 FM.

What if I miss the live interview?
An audio file of the program will be posted in the Capital Public Radio site archives the following day, and you will be able to listen to it there.

Where can I find more information about this radio interview?
Information appears on Capital Public Radio's "Insight" page.

Have you ever been interviewed on the radio before?
No--so please keep me in your thoughts and prayers! And check back here after the interview for a report on how it went. Thank you all for your kind wishes.


Battle of Saipan Links

On the sidebar on the right, I've added links to some sites that discuss the Battle of Saipan. I'd like to highlight a few that may be particularly interesting to readers of Rainbow Over Hell:

The American Memorial Park site showcases photos of artifacts from the Battle of Saipan. Profiles of Japanese holdouts features a brief biography of Captain Sakae Oba, leader of that famous last group of men to surrender on Saipan, including Saburo Arakaki. A Trip to Saipan is one individual's travel diary, complete with photographs that give glimpses into Saipan's geography. PBS tells Koyu Shiroma's amazing story of leaping from Suicide Cliff only to survive, and the site includes Shiroma's plea to help him find his long-lost sisters.

If there are other sites that you believe should be added to the list of links, please let me know. Thank you.


Excerpt: Japan Focus

Japan Focus, a refereed electronic journal and fully-indexed archive that chronicles contemporary Japan and the Asia Pacific, has included in its library of articles, a excerpt from Rainbow Over Hell, along with a thorough introduction written by Laura Hein.

The excerpt is from Chapter 7 of the book. It describes the horrific "banzai attack" that took place during the Battle of Saipan. Read the article.

Japan Focus draws on the contributions of researchers, journalists, policy analysts and writers throughout the world. Its fully indexed website provides a permanent resource for students and researchers on Japan and the Asia-Pacific. Japan Focus has 3,500 subscribers to its email newsletter and 50,000 visits to its web site each month.


Interview: Adventist Health (Creekside Office)

This morning, I was interviewed at the corporate headquarters of Adventist Health (Creekside office) for their Friday morning worship. The interviewer was our friend, Wayne Judd, director of mission and planning at Adventist Health and human being extraordinaire.

As part of the program, we showed my five-minute promo DVD for the book, which gives a synopsis of Arakaki's incredible story. We closed with a recording of Charlotte Church singing "Pie Jesu," which I had listened to continuously while translating the Suicide Cliff scene.

I would estimate that about 40 people attended the event, and I sold 11 copies of the book, which was actually more than my bookseller anticipated.

For the most part, the Creekside office of Adventist Health is comprised of information systems personnel, including my husband. Wayne and I have discussed the possibility of duplicating today's program for the Douglas office, which houses Adventist Health's corporate executives and finance people.

Adventist Health, headquartered in Roseville, California, operates health care facilities throughout California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. The system includes 20 hospitals with more than 3,100 beds, 19,000 employees, numerous clinics and outpatient facilities, 16 home care agencies and three joint-venture retirement centers. It seems to me that Adventist Health is in the business of giving hope to those it serves, and so it felt very natural to talk about Rainbow Over Hell as a message of hope there.

I'm grateful to our friend, Stan Adams, vice president of finance for Adventist Health, for his enthusiasm for Rainbow Over Hell and for going out of his way to set up this opportunity for me.


Letter: Congresswoman Doris Matsui

Today, I received a letter from Congresswoman Doris Matsui to whom I had sent a copy of Rainbow Over Hell. Here is what she wrote:

Dear Sharon:

Thank you for taking the time to send me your translated piece Rainbow Over Hell (Jigoku-no Niji).

The underlying themes of betrayal and forgiveness are a true juxtaposition of human emotion. Saburo's ability to forgive tells us a lot about what a person can overcome. This is a book that many readers are bound to truly enjoy.

Again, thank you for sending me this masterfully put together piece.

Doris O. Matsui
Member of Congress

In line with several other comments I've received on Rainbow Over Hell, it seems that the theme of betrayal and forgiveness was particularly meaningful for Congresswoman Matsui. I'm grateful for her comments.

Article: Pacific Union College Web Site

An article about the publication of Rainbow Over Hell has been posted on the web site of my alma mater, Pacific Union College: "Alumna Translates Message of Hope."

I first explored translation while I was a student at PUC--for my senior Honors project, I translated my paternal grandmother’s autobiography and poetry. Since then, Tsuneyuki Mohri has written and published a book about my grandmother's experiences during World War II, and I had the privilege of translating this work into English as well. Originally published in Japan as a sister volume to Rainbow Over Hell, my grandmother's story (working title: Never Lose Your Smile) is currently being considered for publication.


Interview: Roseville SDA Church

My first public interview about Rainbow Over Hell went very well. I was interviewed today at Roseville SDA Church in a special Sabbath School program highlighting stories of gratitude, forgiveness, and friendship.

Saburo Arakaki's forgiveness of the man who betrayed his trust was the featured forgiveness story. I was interviewed by my good friend, Bonnie Dwyer, who is the editor of Spectrum Magazine. Bonnie asked me what I had learned about forgiveness from translating Rainbow Over Hell. Since I was speaking to a crowd of about 75-100 people, presumably mostly Seventh-day Adventists, I talked about how the cycle of God's forgiveness is only complete when we can accept his forgiveness for us and then pass it on to others. It ought to be like a river flowing into our lives and through us to others.

Regardless of what one believes about God, I think it's hard to deny that an amazing transformation took place in Saburo Arakaki's life. His capacity for forgiveness is, for me, proof that the transformation he underwent was true and that he was changed at the core of his being.

Forgiveness should be a significant and regular part of our lives, I think. If we, as individuals, could learn to forgive as Arakaki did, cycles of hatred and violence might be broken. And instead, cycles of healing might take place.

In other news: An announcement about Rainbow Over Hell ran in the Pacific Union College Church's email newsletter, thanks to Ginny Frost, manager of the Angwin Adventist Book Center.

A printed flyer advertising Rainbow Over Hell ran in the Roseville SDA Church's bulletin today as well.