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China's War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival [Kindle Edition]

Rana Mitter
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In Rana Mitter's tense, moving and hugely important book, the war between China and Japan - one of the most important struggles of the Second World War - at last gets the masterly history it deserves

Different countries give different opening dates for the period of the Second World War, but perhaps the most compelling is 1937, when the 'Marco Polo Bridge Incident' plunged China and Japan into a conflict of extraordinary duration and ferocity - a war which would result in many millions of deaths and completely reshape East Asia in ways which we continue to confront today.

With great vividness and narrative drive Rana Mitter's new book draws on a huge range of new sources to recreate this terrible conflict. He writes both about the major leaders (Chiang Kaishek, Mao Zedong and Wang Jingwei) and about the ordinary people swept up by terrible times. Mitter puts at the heart of our understanding of the Second World War that it was Japan's failure to defeat China which was the key dynamic for what happened in Asia.


'A remarkable story, told with humanity and intelligence; all historians of the second world war will be in Mitter's debt ... [he] explores this complex politics with remarkable clarity and economy ... No one could ask for a better guide than Mitter to how [the rise of modern China] began in the cauldron of the Chinese war' Richard Overy, Guardian

'Rana Mitter's history of the Sino-Japanese War is not only a very important book, it also has a wonderful clarity of thought and prose which make it a pleasure to read' Antony Beevor

'The best study of China's war with Japan written in any language ... comprehensive, thoroughly based on research, and totally non-partisan. Above all, the book presents a moving account of the Chinese people's incredible suffering ... A must read for anyone interested in the origins of China's contribution to the making of today's world' Akira Iriye

About the author:

Rana Mitter is Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St Cross College. He is the author of A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle with the Modern World. He is a regular presenter of Night Waves on Radio 3.

Product Details

  • File Size: 17481 KB
  • Print Length: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (June 27, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AZRDP32
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #549,912 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Birth pains of a giant July 29, 2013
By Hande Z
The second major war between China and Japan (1937-1945) started before and ended after the Second World War in Europe. Neglected by the world leaders at the time and by historians thereafter, the fate of the protagonists in this war was inexorably shaped by it and yet, few, looking at China and Japan today, realise how the events and consequences of that war bear on the imprint of the two Asian giants in the 21st century. This book is an account of that war. The author, Mitter, wrote it mainly as a study of one of the two most important Chinese in the twentieth century - Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (known sometimes as `G-Mo', or more derisively, by his arch `frenemy', General Joseph Stilwell, as `Peanut') and Mao Zedong.

After the Treaty of Versailles was signed, the Western Allies compelled Germany to relinquish the territories that it controlled in China. However, instead of returning them to Chinese sovereignty, the Western Allies gave them to Japan, then the rising power in Asia. China, a giant of a nation but weak in the knees, was just awakening itself to the spirit of nationalism through the efforts of the Kuomintang and the fledgling Chinese Communist Party (formed in 1921). Sun Yat-sen's declaration of the Chinese Republic in 1911 and the installation of Yuan Shikai as the provisional president thereafter proved only a fleeting hope that China would regain its greatness in the world. Yuan Shikai's failed manoeuvres to be proclaimed the new emperor and his death in 1914 saw the rise of the warlords with the consequent division and weakening of China. Japan had been making inroads into Chinese territories. The problem for China then was that it was in the midst of a civil war between the Chinese Communist Party (the `CCP') and the Kuomintang (`the Nationalists').
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Even today it is plain to see that there is an `edge' to relations between China and Japan if not outright hostility at times. To better understand the present and future, it is wise appreciate what transpired in the Second World War between the nations. Mr Mitter's description and treatment is a list of sufferings, undergone by China that continues to haunt the region. For China and other neighbouring states the Second World War remains a festering sore that has never healed properly. Chinese protesters frequently take to the streets, protesting Japan's derisory acknowledgement of its wartime carnage in China and its claims to borderline islets in the East China Sea.

The author begins his study by delving into the history before the war. This is where European imperial powers had carved out `empire' and had left the country like patchwork quilt of war lords and inept government. Japan had had eyes on China for some time and their gradual encroachment began as far back as the later part of the 19th century. When total war finally arrives, there is ineptitude and poor military planning that serves the Chinese poorly, while the Japanese are well organised and superior in military hard ware, their air arm is unleashed upon the civilian population. As European outposts and vested interests fell like dominos in the Far East to the Japanese tsunami, the Chinese did resist and it had not been for this stubborn resolve, maybe the fate of India would have been much different.
The sad truth that is brought to the fore was as the Chinese were fighting the Japanese they also fighting amongst themselves over ideology and perceived treason. Apart from the occasional sounding from the League of Nations there was no help from the `West' in terms of arms, materials or strategy.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific retelling October 14, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Mitter puts Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese Nationalists back at center stage of 20th century history. Chiang and the Guomindong's reputation never recovered from losing the civil war to the Communists, with plenty of bad blood and finger-pointing in the aftermath (especially in the US). Mao won China and, for a long time, the mythology, thanks to the Long March and guerilla warfare against the Japanese. Mitter makes clear that Chiang and the Nationalists did the real fighting, for eight hard years; the strategic retreat from Shanghai to Wuhan to Chongqing is far more dramatic and in some ways impressive than the Long March, but defeat has led us to forget this. Chiang was also China's first true international statesman, another legacy lost in the civil war. He was of course all the terrible things that we remember: corrupt, brutal, ineffective, often petty. But so was just about everyone else; Chiang uniquely wore the mantle of national leadership. This book gives the reader a solid account of how the war played out, an understanding of the major players, and an understanding of how the war permanently marked China and its current relationships with the US and Japan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Forgotten part of World War II December 1, 2013
Japan started flexing its imperialist muscles after the defeat of Russia in 1904 - 1905, it went on to make territorial gains in Korea and Manchuria. China was in a state of flux and had been since the last Emperor had stood down after Sun Yat sens popular revolution of 1911. Mao Zedong had tried to bring about Communist change and ended up doing a tactical withdrawal to the north in what has come to be known as `the long march'. Meanwhile Chiang Kai-shek was holding order in the remainder of China under the nationalists.

Then Japan ever eager to insert its influence put on an incident at The Marco Polo Bridge and the first shots of the war had been fired. China was woefully unprepared for war with lack of central control and feuding regional war lords and corruption that was endemic. Japan on the other hand was over ripe for war and had modern arms, planes, warships, and tactics. They also had an unwavering self belief that they were the destined rulers of Asia in what they saw as a `co-prosperity sphere'; what that meant to those in that sphere was very different. They also had a militaristic zeal that bordered fanaticism. What Professor Rana Mitter does in this book is pull all the facts together to throw light on why and how China fought and how the interplay of ideologies had such an impact on the war and the eventual outcome for all of China.

He also examines how the Allies treated China and how the mistrust can still be seen to resonate to this very day. His writing style is assured and accessible and makes for an engrossing and moreover a rewarding read. What happened at Nanking is dealt with as are other atrocities, but to have covered everything in greater depth would have meant writing another book methinks.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good book would like a few more maps to follow the action.
Published 6 months ago by William A. Nestel
4.0 out of 5 stars Why China today behaves as she does
Whilst World War II has been a global war, it is largely understood from the European perspective. China's war with Japan is truly a forgotten war. Until now. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Life of Brian
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended!!
A very good book that reflects what happened at that time in China
Published 7 months ago by Chow Wai Ming
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Drawer
Top drawer history. Describes the "other" Pacific conflict in which Western powers played but a secondary supporting role. RS
Published 7 months ago by ralph sultan
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read
This was a gift for my Dad, who spent WWII in China. He telephoned to say it's absolutely terrific. So far (1/3 of the way through) it's given him the "back story,"... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Kalrooney
4.0 out of 5 stars Sino-Japanese relationship
Apartment from historical fact, I can read analysis from the author. The book provides insight into the past of Sino-Japanese relation in the first half of 20th century.
Published 19 months ago by LEE CHI WING ERIC
4.0 out of 5 stars China's War witth Japan
Very impressing raccount of terrible times! Makes me understand the thrive for arming and for economic, health and environment improvement.
Published 19 months ago by Helmut Hampe
5.0 out of 5 stars A good research book
I have not read this. I got it at the request of my husband, a scholar that wanted it for his research library.
Published 19 months ago by Saramugsy
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