By Fred Klein – Santa Barbara News-Press Correspondent
An involving novel, tinged with romance. It begins in the waning days of World War II as Allied bombs rain down on Tokyo. At that moment, the head of the noted Matsuda family vows revenge and puts into motion a devious plan that will take years to pay off. The story flashes back to UCLA, early in 1941, as Hank Marshall falls in love with Ruth Morris, yet impulsively enlists in the service, leaving her bereft. Yukio Matsuda is also a student there and he is attracted to Ruth’s natural qualities and her willingness to teach him the American way of life. Then he returns to Japan to save his family’s honor.
With peace declared, Hank rushes home, marries Ruth and together they start a successful import-export business. Yukio returns to take over his family’s business and arranges a joint venture with the Marshalls. Success comes but so does a crisis when Yukio’s son falls in love with the Marshalls’ daughter. Twists and turns revolve around family tradition and loyalty.
For most people, writing a sweeping tale combining international business, war, cross-cultural romance and forgiveness would be a daunting — if not impossible — venture. But Jack Nadel has done exactly that; and he’s done it exceedingly well.
My Enemy, My Friend is the best kind of novel in that it could only have been written by one person; a man whose own life, in large part, parallels that of the main character. Starting with the final, historic days of World War II, the book chronicles the dramatic rise of Imperial Japan from decimation to global economic power. Across the globe, a young American combat veteran — Hank Marshall — returns from the war, launches an international trading company, and eventually enters into fortuitous business partnerships with his former bitter enemies — the Japanese.
Over time, Hank’s business relationship with the Japanese turns into an enduring friendship, but the irony of their international success story goes beyond the obvious. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Hank and his former wartime enemies have much more in common than good business instincts. From a Japanese sniper’s crosshairs to corporate espionage and pre-war love affairs to post-war power struggles, My Enemy, My Friend is an epic tale of full of twists, but ultimately one which celebrates the power of forgiveness and love.
My Enemy, My Friend is more than a good story told well; it is the crowning achievement of an impressive lifetime. In nearly every facet of the story, one finds similarities to Jack Nadel’s own incredible life story. My Enemy, My Friend is perhaps his most impressive work yet — a book which deftly combines his own experiences in war, business, and personal relationships, with an uncommonly genuine literary touch.