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The great irony of The Kempei lies in the more than fifty years since completion that the powerful, vital, boldly illuminating pages of the manuscript have lain in a cardboard box, tucked away from world opinion like the obscure pages of pre-WWII Japanese militarism; the work considered too strong during the 60’s for public consumption, finally shelved by the author in 1968, ten years before his death.
The recounting of horrific, human barbarism and grievous acts of oppression and terrorism is certainly no more palatable today, but for that reason deserves a place in contemporary, informed consciousness. The Kempei disturbs, alarms, troubles, fascinates, horrifies, seeks yet defies comprehension of man’s latent inhumanity.
Unboxed in 2010, Mr. Baker’s epic novel invites the reader to wear both the uniforms of the gendarmes and the rags of the Manchu peasants. Through cleverly constructed experiences, the personalization of these contemptuous and pathetic characters comes alive.
You’ll suffer their respective plights and endure to become less fearful of intimidation and tyranny.