Eddie Okubo lives an idyllic life in Hawaii. He plays baseball, hangs out with friends, and helps with the family business. But then the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, and everything changes. Eddie and his people are the enemy, and everyone is suspicious of them. Nevertheless, Eddie loves his country and wants to fight for it. Except he's too young. And too Japanese.
With the help of a friend, Eddie finds a way to enlist in the service. He is stationed on the island with other new Japanese-American recruits. But in the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the government finds the new soldiers more of threat than a help. After being kept under armed guard, they are shipped off to the mainland. They endure a long train ride to the Mid-west and then are transported to the Gulf coast. There they become part of an experimental program called Dogs for Defense. Dogs for Defense is predicated on the assumption that dogs can smell the difference between a Japanese person and a non-Japanese.
Over the next several weeks, Eddie and the other Japanese-American soldiers are virtual prisoners on Cat Island. They undergo arduous training meant to turn the dogs from family pets to vicious attack animals and to turn the Japanese from soldiers to bait.
Sure to reward its readers, Eyes of the Emperor is a powerful, poignant historical novel that echoes current events on the battlefield and in our society. For more stories about the same characters, check out Salisbury's House of the Red Fish and Under the Blood-Red Sun.