Werner Herzog’s magnificent debut novel tracks the long campaign of Hiroo Onoda, the intelligence officer in imperial Japan’s army who for twenty-nine years after the end of the Second World War evaded capture on Lubang, a tiny Philippine island. Onoda surrendered only in 1974, when his former commanding officer travelled into the jungle and ordered him to stand down.
Three Japanese soldiers at first share in Onoda’s solitude. Herzog’s skills as a filmmaker and dramatist serve the narrative well as he describes the fates of these other men. In spare, elegant prose, he analyses how isolation affects Onoda, who sometimes ‘fires a few shots in the air’