There's a lot going on in this novel, but it's not as hard to follow as it may seem at the start. It traces the lives of several American and Japanese people before, during, and after World War II. Some of them are friends, suddenly cast into enemy positions because their countries are at war. The firebombing of Tokyo is central to the story simply because it's the definitive separation between "before" and "after," but the novel is multi-layered. There's not a great deal of space given to the firebombing itself and its effects on the city as a whole directly following the event. Rather than a recitation of horror and devastation, the focus is more on how the girl Yoshi's life was altered.The most moving example for me of the struggles of conscience when war makes enemies of friends is shown in the character of Anton Reynolds. He's an American architect who spent many years living in Tokyo, designing its beautiful buildings. Back home in America as the war drags on, his knowledge of Japanese architecture puts him in the position of assuring the success of the firebombing of Tokyo. He tells himself again and again, "It's not murder. It's war." But how can he convince himself of that as he helps to destroy the city he loved and its citizens who were his friends?Aside from some anachronistic language (e.g. "man up") and a few weirdly sordid sex scenes, this is a well-written and believable blend of fact and fiction. Highly recommended for fans of the genre.