EBOOK NEW The Rising Sun The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire 1936 45

This book explores Japan s involvement in World War II It focuses upon the Pacific theater and upon battles the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and finally it explains in detail why it took so ong for the Japanese to surrender All related to the Japanese involvement is covered in detail It is not hard to follow because it written in a narrative voice projecting the views thoughts and words of those who fought both Americans and Japanese What is difficult is the slaughter Slaughter on both sides mind you I felt it was balanced neither pro Western nor pro EasternKeep in mind that I should be able to read a book from start to finish that so closely follows battle after battle is pretty darn amazing This is proof that it somehow was able to keep my attention It was clear even to me someone who shies away from books focused upon military battles and thus scarcely knows military terms You follow in detail Pearl Harbor the Bataan Death March the fall of Singapore Midway Guadalcanal Saipan the Battles of Leyte Gulf Okinawa and Iwo Jima Other battles too but those named are covered in great detail You earn the Pacific Islands If you isten to the audiobook you must dig up your own maps but that is really no problem It would have been nice if a word or two were added about the ocation of the particular islands When it gets to the Battles of Leyte Gulf there are so many islands and so many fleets that I went to Wiki to get the movements on paper The reason why you can follow these battles is that the soldiers speak and joke and talk to the reader Some change their mind you follow their thoughts I did wonder sometimes how in the world the author got this information This is supposedly non fiction Letters Survivors stories afterwards This is not explained in an afterword or introduction Maybe the printed book has notes Harakiri now this is exemplified many many times in the text This is a concept difficult to understand for Westerners You need umpteen examples of particular individuals and situations to begin to understand the shame coupled with defeat in Eastern mentality I understand better but not completely I am very glad I chose this book Well worth the time and effort invested I personally think it is a book better read on paper than The Balance of George Lucas's Star Wars listened to There are so many names and details to absorb Maybe you are fluent in Japanese names but I am not My audiobook was narrated by Tom Weiner Even if he does a good job I would have preferred a snail s pace What did Iike best Maybe Lovecraft Country learning why it took soong for Japan to surrender What do I think on closing the book There should be strong controls on the military Mistakes were made on both sides On every side and by all parts I Memorii, vol. I-II learned aotOne thing The author s wife is Japanese and the book received the Pulitzer Prize for general non fiction in 1971 With a Nobel prize winning book John Toland accomplishes telling the Japanese side of WWII The 1930 s were an interesting time in Asia Japan had an exploding population and no natural resources They also had a very dangerous enemy in Communist Soviet Union threatening her Japan s solution Full Steam Ahead, Felix: Adventures of a famous station cat and her kitten apprentice laid in Northern China s Manchuria They occupied Manchuria easily because China was too weak to defend it Japanese business moved in and Japanese populated it Manchuria provided a number of benefits to Japan They included not only a territory to expand into but also had some natural resources More importantly however it was a buffer between the Soviet Union and Japan itself China s fear of further Japanese aggressioned their weak governmental military forces to combine with the government s inner enemy the Chinese Communist forces in a joint effort against JapanSoon menacing Chinese forces fired on the Japanese at the Marco Polo Bridge Japan retaliated thrashing the Chinese forces and occupying vast Chinese territory including Nanking However some poorly disciplined Japanese soldiers unbeknown to their Commander General Jwane Mastui raped murdered and massacred as many as 300000 Chinese civiliansWith this background the book gives us a good detail of the history of AmericanJapanese relations They began in 1853 when Mathew Perry s ships pulled into Tokyo Bay with a etter from President Milliard Fill asking Japan to open its doors to American goods Good relations continued with America s support for Japan in the Russo Japanese War American Investment Bank Kuhn Loeb and Co financed much of the war for Japan And in 1905 President Theodore Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace prize for brokering the end of the Russo Japanese War Also in doing so saved Japan from economic collapse However the Japanese people were never told by their government of their pending economic collapse due to the cost of the war so they correspondingly held the US accountable because the war was stopped while Japan was clearly winning Now back to the story Japan had taken control of Northern China Manchuria and Vietnam where she had a place to populate her growing citizenry As a result America instituted restricting exports to Japan Oil was the main restricted export In fact Japan received 100% of its oil from the USA Without oil Japan could not maintain its expanding territory Japan had also partnered with Germany and Italy because she feared an Anglo Saxon takeover of the World by America and England She also correctly held the view that the West held her to a double standard specifically because of her race What Japan meant was that England had colonies in the Caribbean Central America and elsewhere America had taken Texas and California from Mexico as well as annexing Hawaii and the Philippines Yet Japan had no right to expand Japan had intensively prepared for the Pearl Harbor attack They also tried to avoid attacking America through diplomacy However combinations of forces worked against a diplomatic solution First FDR s Secretary of State Cordell Hull did not trust the Japanese Second America s friendship with England and Japan s alliance with Germany did not bode well for the Japanese England had already been at war with Germany at the time of Japan s attempted diplomacy Third Japanese atrocities committed against the Chinese provided a ess sympathetic American government Fourth bad translations of messages turned sincere attempts at reconciliation into belligerently viewed intelligence In addition Japan had been running out of oil so the onger they waited for a diplomatic solution the dire their situation gotWith those conditions Japan s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7 1941 was very successful from their point of view They had killed 2403 Americans sunk 18 ships and destroyed 188 planesWhen Winston Churchill found out he immediately called President Roosevelt When the President confirmed Winston hung up went to bed and had a good night sleep America was now in the war England was now savedThe war in the Pacific did not start out well for the Allies America and England First the Japanese stunned the English with a victory at the Battle of Singapore In 7 days Japan inflicted upon England their argest surrender in their very active military history That followed with a Japanese Sea victory at Java an island south of Borneo The Allies uck changed with the Battle of Midland The Allies earned of the coming Japanese attack and planned a brilliant counter by surprising Japan with a bombing raid on Japan s homeland This was planned and implemented by James Doolittle This attack shook Japan s air of invincibility The Allies triumphant victory followedAs the war went on America saw victories Long asting military heroes such as Douglass MacArthur Bull Halsey and Chester Nimitz emerged as a result Mr Toland vividly describes the atrocities of all of the major battles with spine chilling accuracy The fact that the Japanese belief that surrender was worse than death was something that only made their state worse Mr Toland describes the compassion American soldiers had on Japanese prisoners of war Feeding nursing and treating their captives with respect were the typical American prison camp norms When America developed the Atomic bomb it was calculated that using it would end the war and save thousands of ives However Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood leaflets dropped on Japan about the dire conseuences that America s new weapon would bring were ignored And still after the A bomb was dropped on Hiroshima they refused to surrender The second bomb dropped on Nagasaki would finally and reluctantly convince Japan to capitulate At the surrender ceremony MacArthur gave an absolutely brilliant speech whicheft the Japanese newspaper Nippon Times to say a new Japan which will vindicate our pride by winning the respect of the world I generally avoid histories of WWII I enjoy history immensely but between Hollywood the History Channel and the vast array of fictions and histories this war has been done to death I would guess the reason for this is that it is still in our Imagine That! living memories it was theast war with a clear Elena's Conquest line between good and evil and because it was readily captured by contemporary visual media and preserved for us to see everyday Having said that I still occasionally pick up a WWII history if it has something that piues my interest Theast WWII book to really do that for me was James Bradley s Flyboys which I thought was the fairest treatment of the war in the Pacific I had read up until now I found this book a Pulitzer Prize winner of some time ago thanks to reading a review by another GR friend thanks Matt The POV of the book is what caught my interest It is written primarily from the Japanese side of the war After reading Bradley s book I became aware for the first time that there was another side to WWII that I had never heard or read about and it was a egitimate point of view This book promised to increase my knowledge of that aspect of the war so I ordered a copy thanks Unfortunately I was not aware of the size of this tome and I do mean tome It is just short of 1000 pages 877 pages of text and then about another 100 pages of notes bibliography sources and index To put it mildly this is not a book that is easy to get physically comfortable with I wish the author and publisher had considered Publishing It In Than One Volume Just it in than one volume just the sake of old bones It also obviously will take a commitment to finish a book of this ength but I can t imagine anybody seriously interested in the history of WWII not reading this book It expands my understanding of the Japanese culture of that time and the psychology of their people and their military The book also explains the Japanese motivations for beginning the war This was something that had been hinted at in Bradley s book but was really explored in detail in this book What really struck me was the aspect of WWII as it affected the native populations in the countries where the war was fought I was never aware of the undercurrent of hostility of the native populations for the white colonial governments and military That the Japanese entered this war carrying the banner of unity and freedom for Asians and the overthrow of the European overlords was very surprising As a boy growing up in the 50 s I remember the dismantling of the British Empire and how our world maps seemed to change every year when another country had gained independence I also recall reading about the European double cross of the people of the Middle East after WWI and now was reading that the Asians weren t going to King Alfred's Version of St. Augustine's Soliloquies let this happen to them The Asians were really caught in the middle with a choice between the Europeans that treated them with disdain or going with the Japanese who probably weren t going to be much better and maybe worse Fortunately they for the most part opted to back the Allies but they expected to be paid back after the war and that is the subject of another book that I may have toook for It would appear however that what took place in the world during the 50 s and early 60 s was the result of an antiuated colonial system and outright racism in which the US was a fully participating actor That President Truman rejected the idea of independence for Laos Cambodia Thailand and Viet Nam in favor of restoring French colonial rule came back to bite both France and the US in the figurative ass Another thing that strikes me about what I have read is how avoidable this war was Of course that isn t really a fair judgment since i am using hindsight fair judgment since I am using hindsight Rescuing Gus like almost all wars including those we are fighting today they are usually the result of cultural ignorance and an inability to view things from the other side The Japanese under estimated the people of the US and the US under estimated the Japanese and probably all Asian peoples This book is a must read for any student of history or any reader that enjoys reading about WWII What I wouldove to now discover is that this author has written a book following the aftermath of this war in the Pacific and what transpired in Asia Some us old enough know what happened as we Class of 92: Out of Our League lived through it but knowing why things happened as they did would be enlightening I guess Il have to explore GR and to see if this book or one Portrait of a Starter: An Unhidden Story like it exists Looking for a relativelyight read I picked this off the shelves where it had been sitting for years Having read a couple of his other books I was pretty sure that Toland would be interestingIndeed he was even interesting than I had expected neither expecting that this book would be so sympathetic to the Japanese perspective nor that Toland s wife was Japanese No expert but certainly not unread about the war in the Pacific I was rather blown away by the presentation the other books I d read being very much pro Allies anti AxisAmong the propositions put to the reader by Toland s text are how Japanese policy was substantially independent of that of the other Axis powers and how the Pacific war might well have been avoided had the US State Department another secretary at the time Other contentious positions taken by the author include a rather critical portrayal of MacArthur and a rather positive one of Emperor Hirohito Roosevelt and Ambassador Grew come across well Rumors that Roosevelt knew beforehand of the Japanese intention to attack Pearl Harbor are discountedMost particularly however I How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly--and the Stark Choices Ahead liked how Toland used and defined a number of Japanese terms and expressions employing this as one means to get at the Japanese mindset something few in the US government or military understoodLike the original Tora Tora motion picture coproduced by citizens of both countries orike Clint Eastwood s recent diptych on one battle of the war this book is unusually balanced and is to be highly recommendedNow I just have to find the second volume as this one ends with Guadalcanal arguably the turning point of the Pacific War I have since found this edition a combination of both volumes and have given the first volume of the other edition away to a Japanese friend for her This Pulitzer Prize–winning history of World War II chronicles the dramatic rise and fall of the Japanese empire from the invasion of Manchuria and China to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Told from the Japanese perspective The Rising Sun is in the author?. ,

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The Rising Sun The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire 1936 45Ewar Nazi Germany and even followed the Nazis into France Concerned that the Gestapo was going to arrest him Shirer fled Germany in 1940 and ater wrote his seminal account a history of the Second World War as seen through the eyes of Hitler and his henchmen The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich has its shortcomings among them an archaic and heavily belabored distaste for homosexuality but there is no denying its place in the firmament All books coming after had to deal with its shadow John Toland s The Rising Sun The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire is a Pacific Theater counterpoint to Shirer s masterwork It tells the tale of the other side of World War II and does so mainly from the point of view of the Japanese Upon publication it won the Pulitzer Prize and can be found in the endnotes and bibliography of just about every subseuent book written about the Pacific War More than anything though it is a book that finds that perfect balance between macro and micro between general and private and civilian It always strives to hold the big picture clear but never fails to remind you of the individuals who collectively made that big picture As such this is a rare history one that is scholarly and massively researched yet also shot through with empathy compassion and humanism It is one of the best books I ve read on World War II Toland begins in 1936 with young Japanese radicals bent on assassinating several of the Emperor s advisers These men were practicing gekokujo or insubordination a semi egitimate form of rebellion In this opening chapter Toland briskly sometimes too briskly outlines the background that fomented gekokujo the fall of monarchies after World War I the competition between democracy socialism and Communism that came in its wake the rapid westernization of Japan and the resulting scandals and corruption Japan s population explosion and the inevitable blowback by conservatives and nationalists During Japan s rise as a Pacific power it invaded Manchuria which it saw as a buffer against the Soviet Union with whom they d warred at the beginning of the century and as a source of raw materials and in 1932 established the puppet state of Manchukuo The creation of Manchukuo obviously heightened tensions between China and Japan Those tensions came to a head in 1937 at the Marco Polo Bridge in an incident that better marks the actual beginning of World War II as opposed to the September 1 1939 invasion of Poland by Hitler The clash at the Marco Polo Bridge ed to full scale war including the infamous Nanking Massacre The only real criticism I have with The Rising Sun is in Toland s handling of the Second Sino Japanese War Part of the reason I bought this book was to earn about this forgotten theater Unfortunately however Toland deals with China in a cursory fashion He does not take the time to develop the strategy of the war or explain in great detail how it unfolded The fall of Nanking merits barely a page This stands in stark contrast to the space devoted to the American Japanese conflict beginning in 1942 For instance Toland devotes an entire and yes brilliant chapter to the battle of Guadalcanal In other words despite the broad claims of its cover The Rising Sun is mainly focused on the war between American and Japan This means Moonrise less attention though it s not entirely ignored paid to China s dual struggle against Japan and themselves Britain s collapse in Singapore the Burma Campaign and the massive battles of Kohima and Imphal in IndiaEven though Toland decides to place his heaviest emphasis on familiar territory it nevertheless manages to be revelatory After the earlier chapters which felt compressed The Rising Sun hits its stride in the run up to Pearl Harbor You get to see the rationale behind Japan s decisions its attempts to negotiate with America especially through Prince Konoye and the different factions within the Japanese ministry When we think of Japan in World War II we think of Nanking and Pearl Harbor of the Bataan Death March and kamikazes Prime Minister Tojo has become a caricature of evil divorced from any of the human traits that even Hitler has posthumously been granted These conceptions doittle to broaden our understanding of what actually happened By taking us into the backrooms of Japanese policymaking we get to see the world and its perils as they did They faced many difficulties as a small overcrowded island nation a net importer of just about everything When President Roosevelt decided to turn of the oil spigot it was as grave a threat to Japan as Khrushchev s October missiles were to the United States in 1962To be sure Japan s colonial impulses were brutal but they had earned from the best that is from Europe It is also interesting as Toland notes how Japan s pan Asian ambitions did not fall entirely on deaf ears There were many people for whom an Asian power in the Pacific was preferable to the white powers that had dominated for a hundred years or using their human capital and removing their resources for exploitation elsewhere After the war of course that pan Asian spark was enough to incite anti colonial movements all over Asia including Indochina and India The difficulty in writing this type of history is that you are taking the side of the conuered And history of course is written by the winners That means that Allied atrocities are subordinated to the carnage perpetrated by the bad guys In other words the casual reader familiar with the winner s take might feel that Toland is soft peddling Japan s crimes I don t think he does Anything that smacks of such is a function of the point of view he has chosen for his narrative Nobody does evil thinking it is evil there is always a rationalization followed by a rationalization until you re in too deep A good example of this is the Bataan Death March Toland does not skimp on the horrors suffered by MacArthur s captured troops but does place it in a milieu divorced from contemporary propaganda He shows how the overarching cause of the Death March was Japan s poor planning and its utter surprise at America s collapse in the Philippines They were simply not prepared for the influx of tens of thousands of starving disease ridden soldiers General Homma s execution at the end of the war can only be seen as MacArthur s crass punishment of the man who kicked his ass off Corregidor Though General Homma did not set out to massacre his prisoners there were certainly men under his command who intended just that This filtered down to the rank and file Japanese soldier who was created within a framework of unending violence beaten by his superiors taught to fight to the death imbued with the belief that capture was dishonor and that the way of the warrior was death Toland was an author especially suited as far as a white American could be to tell this story as he was married to a Japanese woman named Toshiko who assisted as his interpreter By giving an account of the Pacific War from the Japanese perspective he gave them a humanity denied by wartime hyperbole of of the Pacific War from the Japanese perspective he gave them a humanity denied by wartime hyperbole of unfeeling murderous fanatics Toland gives them a voice uotes their etters and diaries stands with them in their pillboxes or on the street the day a bomb exploded with the ight of a thousand suns My greatest surprise in reading The Rising Sun was its emotional impact It begins as a straightforward chronological history marked by tremendous research but structurally run of the mill As the book progresses though you recognize the elegance of Toland s construction how he weaves the stories of heretofore unknown participants into the grander narrative Part of the reason The Rising Sun is so effective so powerful is the way Toland threads the mini arcs of participants into the arger story During the Battle of Saipan for instance Toland follows the travails of a young Japanese nurse and shows you the war through her eyes in all its terrible Alien Alpha limited scope In Garapan a young volunteer nurse by the name of Shizuko Miura a tomboy with a round merry face flinched as the first shellsanded She peered out the window of the first air station into the dim ight The Americans were bombarding the town again As the explosions moved closer she helped transfer those wounded in the earlier shelling to a dugout With daylight came enemy planes and an even violent barrage from the ships It is June 14 Shizuko thought calmly I have ived for eighteen years and my time to die has come A shell shook the dugout ike an earthuake and knocked her to the ground She staggered outside The first aid station was obliterated She saw a piece of red metal it was shrapnel and curious touched it with her finger It burned her Planes droned overhead but no one was firing at them Garapan was aflame The heat was so intense that she could hardly breathe She started to make her way through the rubbled streets strewn with bodiesToland was able to tell stories ike this because of his diligent primary research In the source section you will find ten pages filled with names noting all the people with whom he d conducted interviews The names include prime ministers admirals and also Shizuko Miura For this reason alone The Rising Sun is a touchstone of World War II writing The firsthand information gathered from these participants many of whom might have been forgotten has proven invaluable to historians and writers who have followed in Toland s footprints But this is not the only reason to read The Rising Sun or even the best Rather it is a testament to humanity in the midst of the most inhuman period of human existence In Toland s own words it is a story that is muddled ennobling disgraceful frustrating full of paradox 4 Stars This is probably one of the best one volume history of the Pacific war that I have read It doesn t make the mistake of beginning with Japan s war with the West but starts with the positioning before the Marco Polo bridge incident It mixes the military campaigns and battles with the politics at home This includes detailed accounts of the political and military manoeuvring of the Japanese eaders with "THE PRIME MINISTER AND THE EMPEROR "Prime Minister and the Emperor is a ot of depth here which continues woven through the narrative of the war right up to the surrender of Japan This is balanced with the view from the Allies albeit in ess detail This is heavily slanted toward US participation which is understandable but also covers the UK Australia and New Zealand The Soviet Union is also covered here in both the political and espionage aspects as well as the history of the countries interaction pre WW2 right through to the end game when the Soviets attacked The atomic bomb attack descriptions are terrifying and captivating Following Toland s use of first person accounts I felt empathy for the people at ground zero and yes he made them feel ike people not statistics The contrast between the survivors matter of fact sounding descriptions and the horror of what they went through was confronting At times it was frustrating when I wanted detail but remembering this is a 1 volume history I realised I wasn t being fair This perspective change will always be an issue when you have read detailed accounts of campaigns and are re approaching it from a broader perspective I just had to adjust my point of view Winner of the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for General Non Fiction this book covers the War in the Pacific from a Japanese perspective Extensive well researched and readable covering the timeframe from the invasion of Manchuria and China to The Atomic Bombing Of atomic bombing of and NagasakiAfter the Japanese invasion in Manchuria the book starts of with the efforts of the American ambassador and the Foreign Minister of Japan to try to prevent war due to the boycot that the Western powers have established It is painful to see read how the good intentions are hampered by ignorance impatience and indignation on the American side and militairy extremism on the Japanese side Inevetibly this flows into the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbour and the conseuent campaignWhat struck me was the underestimation of the Japanese of the Western powers the wishful thinking of the generals and admirals Seeking the decisive battle it happened time and time again that the Japanese thought they had destroyed the enemy fleets and their carriers only to find them still active after each battle After Midway Japan was doomed but it seemed not to be realised by the Japanese Army and NavyThe book uotes several eye witness accounts of Japanese soldiers mainly focussing on the battle of Guadalcanal Okinawa and the Philippines Other than the title might suggest this is not a study of the fall and decline of the Japanese empire but a war account For example the American successes against the Japanese merchant fleet is only sparsely mentioned while in my eyes this was one of the deciding factorsFor someone who needs a good introduction for the War in the Pacific this is a good introduction and highly reccomended For someone already well known with the aspects of the Pacific War this book may have reuirend some depthLet me finish with a uote by Japanese general Kawabe after he witnessed the respect the Americans showed him after the Japanese defeatIf human beings were to sincerely exercise justice and humanity in their relations with one another the horrors of war in all Beautiful Ghosts likelihood could be avoided and even if a war unfortunately broke out the victor would not become arrogant and the suffering of theosers would be alleviated immediately A truly great cultural nation in the first reuisite35 stars Mammoth history of Japan s involvement in the Second World War Toland seeks to emulate the sweep if not the editorial tone of Shirer s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich mixing high Alexandra, Gone level cabinet deliberations and diplomacy with military strategy and the on the ground experience of Japanese soldiers and sailors Toland s portrait shows a Japaneseeadership eager to exploit China but agonizing over their decision to attack America and Britain the division among Japan s military and political A Year in 120 Recipes leadership and their wholehearted commitment once war s actually declared Toland relishes details from the importance of mistranslation in deteriorating diplomatic relations to the slang and attitudes of Japanese troops Because of its scope the book s somewhat spotty on certain subjects the Sino Japanese War s barely touched on while the Anglo Chinese campaign in Burma s reduced to a brief chapter There s aong section on the founding of the East Asia Co Prosperity Sphere and its popularity among pan Asians but no follow up on the movement s dissolving as Japan s brutality became evident For that matter Japanese atrocities are heavily downplayed reduced to a sentence or two amidst detailed multipage battle accounts If Toland seems overly sympathetic to Japanese aspirations he deserves credit at F. Scott Fitzgerald least for his comprehensive multilayered approac. E war in the Pacific Toland crafts a riveting and unbiased narrative history In his Foreword Toland says that if we are to draw any conclusion from The Rising Sun it is “that there are no simpleessons in history that it is human nature that repeats itself not history?. Eactions This is the third big book on the Pacific War I have read recently Ian Toll s first two books of a planned trilogy Pacific Crucible and The Conuering Tide were a magnificent historical account of the war from both sides So given that this book covers much the same ground though it was written much earlier I will do a ot of comparing with Toll s books though I think Toland s book is eually good and you will not find it at all repetitive to read both authorsAs thick as this book is it s only one volume whereas Ian Toll is writing three whole volumes on the entire war in the Pacific Thus while Toll devotes a great deal of attention to the politics and individual political and military eaders on both sides of the conflict The Rising Sun as its title indicates focuses mostly on Japan Naturally the planning and personalities on the American and British and ater Chinese and Soviet sides are mentioned but mostly only inasmuch as they were pitted against their Japanese counterpartsOne of the things most striking about Toland s narrative is that he ays out all the blunders that were made by both Japan before during and after the war These margins where the errors occurred and where history could have been changed are one of the things I find most interesting in non fiction histories when competently examined Let s start with whether or not war was inevitableDid we have to go to war with JapanThe basic historical facts are well understood the Japanese wanted a colonial empire and Europe and the US didn t want them to have one When the Japanese invaded China the US put an oil embargo on them This would inevitably strangle the Japanese economy as for all its rising technical prowess Japan remained a tiny resource impoverished island So the Japanese pretty much had no choice but to give up their ambitions or go to war We know which one they choseThe uestion for historians is whether or not this could have been avertedIan Toll seems to think that war was inevitable the Japanese and the West simply had irreconcilable designs But John Toland seems to not exactly argue but present a great deal of evidence that miscommunication and misfortune had as much to do with Japan and the US being put on a collision course as intransigence Of course Japan was never going to give up their desire to be a world class power which means there was no way they would have accepted the restrictions imposed on them forbidding them fleets or territory on a par with the West Whether the West could have been persuaded to et Japan take what it saw as its rightful place at the grown ups table is debatable But in the first few chapters of The Rising Sun John Toland describes all the negotiating that went on between Japanese and American diplomats The Japanese were split into factions just as the Americans were Some wanted peace no matter what some were hankering to go to war and really believed their jingoistic propaganda that the spiritual essence of the Japanese people would overcome any enemy But most Japanese eaders from the Imperial Palace to the Army and Navy were realistic and knew that a war with the US would be at best a very difficult one So there were many frantic talks including backchannel negotiations among peacemakers on both sides when it became apparent that Secretary of State Henry Stimson and Prime Minister Hideki Tojo were not going to deescalateThere were a number of tragedies in this situation Sometimes the precise wording of some of the phrases used in Japanese or American proposals and counter proposals were mistranslated resulting in their being interpreted as inflexible or disingenuous than they were intended causing both sides to mistrust the other Sometimes communications arrived ate There was also a Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience lot of particularlyabyrinthine political maneuvering on the Japanese side where political assassinations were commonplace at that time and the position of the Emperor was always ambiguous Toland apparently interviewed a very arge number of people and read first hand accounts and so is able to reconstruct many individual talks even with the Emperor himself putting the reader in the Imperial throneroom as Hirohito consults with his ministers and then in telegraph offices where communiues are sent from embassies back to WashingtonToland doesn t definitively state that war could have been avoided because it s still not clear what mutually agreeable concessions might have been made by either side but what is clear is that both Japan and the US could see that war was ooming and neither side really wanted it At east initially everyone except a few warmongers in the Japanese military did everything they could to avoid itUnfortunately diplomatic efforts were for naught and the Emperor was eventually persuaded to give his blessing to declare warAdmiral Yamamoto knew very well that Japan had no hope of winning a prolonged war which was why when war happened and he was put in charge of the Japanese fleet he planned what he hoped would be uick devastating knock out punches Pearl Harbor and Midway that would sink the US back on its heels and persuade the Americans to negotiate an honorable peace before things went too farThis was unlikely after Pearl Harbor Nobody on the Japanese side seemed to realize just how pissed off America would be by this surprise attack though the unintentionally ate formal declaration of war delivered hours after the attack when it was supposed to have been delivered just prior certainly didn t help But it was a forlorn hope after the debacle at Midway in which aided by superior intelligence from broken Japanese codes the US fleet sank four Japanese carriers Many military historians grade Yamamoto poorly for this badly executed offensive which rather than delivering a knockout punch to the US fleet proved true his prophecy that The Americans can A Grant County Collection: Indelible, Faithless and Skin Privilege lose many battles we have to win every single oneThe bulk of the book covers the war itself including all the familiar namesike Guam Guadalcanal Wake Island Corregidor Saipan Okinawa Iwo Jima Toland does not neglect the British defense of India the tragic fate of Force Z which blundered on ahead to its doom despite ack of air cover and thus heralded in the new reality that air power ruled above all and the multi sided war in China in which communists and nationalists were alternately fighting each other and the Japanese with both sides being courted by the Allies Any military history will cover the battles but Toland describes them vividly especially the first hand accounts from the men in them the misery and terror and also the atrocities ike the Bataan Death March and the miserable conditions of POWs taken back to JapanOne of the things evident in many of these battles was just how much is a roll of the dice Human error weather malfunctioning euipment pure Success luck over and over snatched defeat from the jaws of victory or vice versa Inevitably the US had to win they simply had men euipment resources The Japanese began going hungry almost as soon as the war began while the Allies initially kicked all over the Pacific because they were caught off guard began pouring men and ships and often most importantly food well fed troops into the theater Still individual battles often turned on whether or not a particular ship was spotted or whether torpedoes hit Luck seemed to favor the Americans often than not but I found Toland s descriptions particularly informative in recounting howittle details about euipment and the human factor decisions made by individual commanders and how the willingness to take risks or an unwillingness to change one s mind often determined the outcome of a fightWho were the war criminalsTwo of the other big uestions I find most interesting about World War II are the ones that will probably never be answered satisfactorilyFirst was Emperor Hirohito a war criminalI was in college in 1989 when Emperor Hirohito properly known as the Showa Emperor died I had a friend who was a Japanese exchange student She was grief stricken All of Japan mournedThere is a particular narrative I heard growing up It is one that was pushed heavily by the Japanese from approximately the moment the decision was made to surrender until about the time Hirohito died According to this version of history Hirohito was a figurehead a puppet of Japanese military Vineyard Prey leaders He had no real decision making power and any active resistance on his part would haveed to his being killed Thus he was not responsible for the war or any of Japan s war crimes he was an innocent born to assume a hereditary throne and assume a position of purely symbolic importanceI was a A Village Affair / A Passionate Man / The Rector's Wife little shocked when I read an article in some British tabloid denouncing Hirohito upon his death and cheering that the war criminal was now in hellYet while neither view is strictly accurate it is certainly complicated than the sanitized version that was accepted for soong This sanitized version was in fact produced in part by the US particularly Douglas MacArthur from the moment the war ended as a deliberate strategy to secure faster Japanese cooperation and reconciliation It was predicted that trying Hirohito as a war criminal as about one third of the American public wanted to do at the time would have resulted in widespread guerrilla warfare and the need for a much Pea's Book of Best Friends longer and active occupation of the Japanese homeland When the Japanese finally began negotiating terms of surrender one of the sticking points the one thing they tried to carve out of the demand for an unconditional surrender was that the Emperor would retain his status and by implication not be charged with war crimesSo how active was Hirohito in the war planning According to Toland he was very much involved from the beginning and had far than symbolic influence over his cabinet ministers and military Could he have simply forestalled a war by telling them not to go to war Maybe While political assassination was common it seems unlikely that anyone would have daredaying a hand on His Majesty himself And according to the cabinet meetings and private conferences Toland describes even the most zealous Japanese The Nightingale Of Peshawar: Selections From Rahman Baba leaders felt unable to proceed without getting a final say so from the Emperor So if Hirohito had been resolutely against a war it seemsikely that the militarists would have had a much harder time getting oneAt the same time Hirohito was in many ways bound by his position Traditionally the Emperor did not make policy he simply approved it He wasn t supposed to veto anything or offer his opinion he was just supposed to bless the decisions that had already been made Hirohito especially A Slice of the Moon later in the war departed from this tradition than once shocking his advisors by taking an active role or asking uestions during ceremonies that were supposed to be mere formalitiesPersonally he seemed to be a rather uiet studious man who would have been much happier as a scholarly sovereign and not the Emperor of an expansionist empire He possessed a genuine if abstract concern for the Japanese people and this motivated himater to accept surrender and even put himself in the hands of the Allies whatever they might decide to do with himAlmost certainly he also had no direct knowledge of Japanese atrocities So Hirohito was no Hitler Still neither was he the uninvolved innocent that It Became Politically Expedient To became politically expedient to him as after the warHideki Tojo on An epic account of the Japanese war Toland tells the story from many different perspectives from the Emperor and his aides to the The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters to Government (mini ebook) lowly soldier trapped in Guadalcanal It is all here the prelude to Pearl Harbour to the finale of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Many aspects are of interest the Japanese were continually obsessed with striking the fatal knock out blow At Pearl Harbour they believed they had accomplished that They tried again at Midway Tarawa to be held for one thousand years Saipan and on and on They even believed they could destroy the enemy on the Japanese mainland Another aspect is the ferociousness of the combatants who refused to surrender and viewed suicide as the honourable way toeave The Wish Maker life There were always substantially Japanese deaths than American ones in most of the conflictsJohn Toland s varying montages of the agony of battles of prisoners of war of the victims of fire bombing are all very poignant The build up to the attack on Pearl Harbour and the frustration and miscues on both sides is very well told The end with the Potsdam Proclamation that was completely rejected by the Japanese government followed by the dropping of the atomic bombs well documents theegacy of the wars ending I FEEL AT TIMES THAT MR feel at times that Mr is too The Regiment: The Real Story of the SAS lenient with Hirohito s performance he could have prevented Pearl Harbour and the subseuent Japanese onslaught in Asia The Japanese had signed the Tri partite Pact with Hitler and Mussolini and this was ill received by the Anglo American democracies This was somewhat overlooked by Mr Toland Nevertheless this book is a great accomplishment and presents the war with all its detailed planning from the Japanese viewpoint Shigenori Togo had just arrived at the Palace grounds Stars shone brilliantly It was going to be a fine day The Foreign Minister was immediately ushered into the Emperor s presence It was almost at the exact moment that Ambassador Kichisaburo Nomurawas supposed to see Secretary of State Cordell Hull Togo read President Roosevelt s message and the proposed draft of the Emperor s reply The Emperor approved the reply and his countenance Togo thought reflected a noble feeling of brotherhood with all peoples The spacious plaza outside the Sakashita Gate was deserted and as Togo drove away the sole noise in the city was the crunching of gravel under the car tires His mind was far away in a few minute one of the most momentous days in the history of the world would begin John Toland The Rising Sun The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire 1936 1945 By myast count there were one gazillion books on World War II with coming out every week And it will never stop World War II will continue to be refought between the covers and on Kindles ong after human memory of the event is gone It will be told for as ong as there are people to tell stories The uestion then is which of those books to read You can spend your entire ife reading World War II books and not even scratch the surface Besides there are other things to do in ife Like drinking or reading about the American Civil War or doing both at the same time Thankfully there are a few andmark books the ones that everyone can name the ones that are certified as classic that stand out from the pack ike a guy wearing an Armani suit at a clown college or a clown at an Armani store if you prefer In the European Theater of Operations one of those classics is William Shirer s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich Shirer was a journalist who spent time in pr. ?s words “a factual saga of people caught up in the flood of the most overwhelming war of mankind told as it happened muddled ennobling disgraceful frustrating full of paradox”In weaving together the historical facts and human drama eading up to and culminating in th. ,