Tuesday, June 16, 2015
SPY Historian Vince Houghton sat down (remotely) with biographer Phyllis Birnbaum to discuss her newest book, based on the life of Kawashima Yoshiko, who supported the puppet Manchu state established by the Japanese in 1932--one reason she was executed for treason after Japan's 1945 defeat. The truth of Yoshiko's life is still a source of contention between China and Japan: some believe she was exploited by powerful men, others claim she relished her role as political provocateur. China holds her responsible for unspeakable crimes, while Japan has forgiven her transgressions. This biography presents the richest and most accurate portrait to date of the controversial princess spy, recognizing her truly novel role in conflicts that transformed East Asia.