For much of the World War II conflict, Japan had been a safe haven for its citizens, far, far away from Germany's relentless advance in Europe and the daily horrors of such events as the London blitz, concentration camps and the fall of France. But Alex Faure always felt that one day the war would come with a vengeance to the Land of the Rising Sun, although even he was astonished by the ferocity with which the Allied forces exacted their retribution on the place he's always called home. Up until then, life had been good for Alex in Japan. The son of a French father and White Russian mother, he grew up and went to school in the port of Yokohama. The local community of foreigners was a tight knit, highly social group, the bulk of whom spent their summers at the holiday playground of Karuizawa in the mountains. As a gaijin or European with a command of English, French and Japanese, Alex looked forward to a good life in Japan after graduating from school and completing his tertiary education at Harvard in the US. The morning of December 7, 1941, put an end to those expectations.
The surprise attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbour immediately changed Japan's status as a neutral in the European war. From that time on life became increasingly difficult for Alex, his mother and sister, particularly after his father fled to Vietnam to avoid arrest by the Tokko - Japanese special secret police. With his father's export business in tatters and the last of his mother's jewellery sold off, Alex was fortunate enough to secure a job at the Banque de l'Indochine, a French bank in Tokyo, while many of his European friends were locked out of work by the increasingly suspicious Japanese. Here he became embroiled in the murky world of propaganda, politics and clandestine financial deals, all as the war closed in. In order to survive and support his mother and sister, Alex had to sidestep the suspicions of his French superiors at the bank, keep secrets from those he loved, avoid the prying eyes of the infamous Kempeitai secret police, and somehow survive the devastating Tokyo bombings which claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Dragons in the Forest is the amazing true story of Alex Faure's life behind the tinted glass of an inscrutable society that could never acknowledge the fallibility of its leaders, nor foresee its potential demise. Even to utter an opinion that the war might not be going as well as suggested by the movie reels would be an act of treason punishable by death. Peter Yeldham masterfully interlaces excerpts from Alex's diary with real events in wartime Japan, producing a riveting tale of life as a foreigner in a strange land at a very dangerous time.