Twilight of the Gods: War in the Western Pacific, 1944–1945 by Ian W. Toll

By the summer of 1944, after two years of savagely fighting the Japanese, island by island, American forces had taken the Marianas, putting Tokyo within range of American bombers. The war in the Pacific should have been as good as done. Even the Japanese rulers knew they were defeated, lacking the resources to stop the American war machine from conquering their homeland.

But that does not mean the Japanese were willing to surrender. Rather, they were determined to die gloriously for the emperor. They would be gyokusai (smashed jewels), demonstrating their racial superiority and divine spirit.