is the story of young Mason McCabe, an enlisted sailor whose
leisurely tour of duty at the U.S. Naval Base in Sasebo, Japan
during the 1950's is turned upside down when he comes face to
face with the realities of the Cold War.
His work with classified documents brings an offer from a communist
undercover organization, headed by a Nisei with a grudge against
America, to buy military secrets. Mason shrugs off the early
offers, but his work as a courier of top secret documents eventually
gets him into a situation where he is fighting for his very
life on a mountain outside Sasebo.
During the course of his tour he also becomes involved in
a swing band comprised of both Japanese and Americans. The band
experience brings him into contact with Laura Robbins, a beautiful
young officer's wife.
Even though he knows that a relationship with her could have
tragic consequences, he is unable to fend off the temptation.
His involvement with a Japanese bar girl further complicates
Mason MaCabe's adventures reveal what life was like for young
servicemen in the Far East during the 1950's when America had
all the money and the Seventh Fleet was the "Bull of the
I recently finished the Mack Samples novel "Sasebo." It was a really great novel, easy to read and brought back many of my own memories of Navy life. Although I did not get the opportunity to trave in the pacific, but was primarily in the Mediterranean and Middle East areas, his description of Sasebo was similar to the stories I had heard from guys who had R & R there from Vietnam.
The author's depiction of the characters made them similar to some of the characters I had known in my time in the Navy. His depicts the town of Sasebo with many of the same attributes that are common in many Navy liberty ports.
Again, I found this novel to be exceptional for anyone who has been in the Navy or any other service since many of the characters and their escapades are the same, just a different uniform and a different place.
I have just finished reading your book “Sasebo.” A great read and catalyst for resurgence of long-ago memories. A story with a recognizable reality base and written by an author with hands-on experience makes for a very special read. Congratulations on a splendid job of capturing the tone and texture of that long-time-gone Sesebo era.
I was fortunate to have served nearly six unforgettable years at CFA Sasebo. Feburary 1959 to March 1961 as a young Marine, and February 1963 to October 1966 in Civil Service. It’s possible, maybe even probable, that our paths inadvertently crossed during the time we were both billeted on the base.
However, I am secure in my knowledge that I was not the model for your character “Silas Short” -- heck, even the physical description doesn’t match!
By the way, we did patronize many of the same downtown establishments, such as: the stand bars, the Paramount Club and the Nikka Torii Cabaret. Especially the Kikka, where I spent many late evening and early morning hours carousing with friends and savoring the music of both American and Japanese bands. As you well know, those old haunts are long gone. Paradise Alley, that short narrow pathway to a thousand pleasures, is now home to quaint little coffee shops and upscale eateries.
But, as Bob Hope always sang, “Thanks for the Memories.” And, how about those Okinawa cuties, “The Gay Little Hearts,” could they ever, absolutely, rock the ole Fiddlers Green EM Club?
I've just finished reading "Sasebo" and wanted to tell you how
thoroughly I enjoyed it. Although I've never been to Sasebo I do feel
like I've just returned from a time-trip there. I lived in Japan in the mid to late 1970s and as a young photographer
I photographed in and around the bases at Yokosuka and Yokota, and
although it was a different time the atmosphere of the those base
towns was vividly brought back by reading your fine novel.
Presently I live in Shanghai and work in the region on assignment for
American and European magazines. I also do personal work which appears
in the form of books and exhibitions. My latest book "Phantom
Shanghai" was published in May of this year. An exhibition of mine titled "Sailors" -photographs of off-duty young
american sailors in Japan, Hong Kong and SE Asia, taken in the 1970s
and 80s- recently was shown at a gallery in Vancouver, Canada.
Later this year, for a new project, I will be returning to the theme
of American servicemen (and women) posted overseas in Asia. Indeed
Sasebo is one of the places I intend to visit, as well as other places
in Japan and Korea. Thank you for a fascinating story about about a very specific time and
place about which too little is known.
with kind regards,
Where to Get The Book
West Virginia Book Co.
1125 Central Avenue
Charleston WV 25302
or The Author
For information on where to buy other Mack Samples books, click