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Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945 Hardcover – September 10, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 216 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Rana Mitter’s brilliant new book, Forgotten Ally: China’s War with Japan, 1937-1945, makes an important and moving contribution to the historical record by illuminating the largely forgotten war that took the lives of millions of Chinese, yet ultimately facilitated the rise of modern China." -- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger


"Superb." — New York Times Book Review


"Important and compelling . . . Closely examin[es] Beijing's role in the Allied war effort, the heavy and often thankless price paid by the Chinese in their fight against Japan, and the impact of China's wartime traumas on the country's postwar development. . . . Fascinating." — Wall Street Journal


"Powerful . . . Mitter excels . . . in placing China's wartime experience in a robustly international framework. . . . General readers curious to learn more about Chinese history should welcome any new book by Mitter." — Daily Beast


"Rana Mitter's history of the Sino-Japanese War . . . is a major contribution to the one aspect of the Second World War of which we know far too little, and should know much more if we are to understand the new superpower today. It is a model of clarity and good writing." — Antony Beevor, Times (UK)


"Restor[es] a vital part of the wartime narrative to its rightful place. . . . A remarkable story, told with humanity and intelligence; all historians of the second world war will be in Mitter’s debt. . . . No one could ask for a better guide." - Richard Overy, Guardian  (London)


"The best narrative of that long-ago war, whose effects still linger in China today." - Jonathan Mirsky, The Spectator  (London)


"Illuminating and meticulously researched. . . . It is the voice of the Chinese [. . .] that gives the distinctive tone to Mitter’s narrative. From the diaries of Chiang Kai-shek to those of national journalists and middle-class Chinese fleeing the conflict, these first-person observations are woven skillfully into his chronicle of the battles and struggles."  -The Economist


"Forgotten Ally is a breathtaking chronicle of China’s war with Japan from 1937 to 1945, a major theater of World War II whose story most Western readers have never heard in full -- certainly not as Mitter interprets it here. Authoritative and epic, pulsing with life, this is a grand vision of China’s transformation through the cataclysm of war in the twentieth century." -- Stephen R. Platt, author of Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom


"Gripping...He shows that...the east Asian conflict shaped both the outcomes of the second world war and the development of the postwar world." - The Observer


"An important, timely contribution to shedding light where there is currently much darkness... Mitter ’s book demonstrates why to this day the Chinese view Japan with such animosity." -- The Financial Times


"Mitter has done an important service both in pulling together the complex narrative threads of this period and in reminding readers of China’s vital and largely neglected contribution to the Allied war effort... Mitter’s excellent history tells us why we need to remember it." -- The New Statesman


"Rana Mitter has written a masterly account of the war, which blends wide deep scholarship with an accessible narrative...Mitter's great achievement is to have encompassed a multi-faceted story in a readable, coherent and gripping manner" - Jonathan Fenby, The Times


"This monumental new work by Oxford University professor Rana Mitter magisterially surveys this conflict, the broader repercussions of which still resonate across East Asia." -- South China Morning Post


"For decades, argues Rana Mitter in his superb new book, western readers have known too little about China's suffering....Mitter offers a lucid and moving account of the conflict's staggering military tragedies. But it is also a first-rate political and social history if China's wartime years....Mitter's elegant, rigorous and balanced account is an ideal guide to traumas that continue to cast a long shadow over the region." -- TheTelegraph


"This gripping political history not only provides a detailed scholarly account of the Sino-Japanese War but also, in a prologue, offers an admirably succinct introduction to the political history of China in the first half of the twentieth century . . . A story of heroic and determined resistance . . . enlivened by extracts from the writing of Chinese people who endured the war." -- Delia Davin, Observer (UK)


"A masterly account . . . Blends wide, deep scholarship with an accessible narrative that includes an admirable focus on [the war’s] effects on ordinary people . . . Mitter’s great achievement is to have encompassed a multi-faceted story in a readable, coherent, and gripping manner that should rescue this horrific conflict from the neglect it has suffered in the West and explain why history lives on in East Asia." -- Jonathan Fenby, Times (UK)

"Mitter’s narrative élan, in the manner of David McCullough, creates a complex history that is urgently alive. An important, well-told tale of China at war." -- Kirkus

"An important and compelling history of China's World War II experience...Mr. Mitter's book gives China its historical due." -- The Wall Street Journal

"Mitter gathers a generation of research and debate to weave new insights into a sweeping panorama...This is cutting-edge history, and there’s scarcely a dull page. Highly recommended." -- Library Journal, starred

“This is the best study of China's war with Japan (1937-1945) written in any language. It is comprehensive, thoroughly researched, and objective. For anyone interested in how China helped shape today's world, this is a must-read.” — Akira Iriye, Charles Warren Professor of History (emeritus), Harvard University

"Forgotten Ally...deserves to be read by anyone interested in China, World War II and the future of China’s relations with the rest of the world...Mitter masterfully constructs these interlocking stories of battles, famines, massacres, diplomacy and intrigue...Excellent book."— Washington Post


"[Mitter] writes with rare objectivity on subjects that remain controversial today, and his illustrations are both poignant and pertinent...Forgotten Ally is must reading for anyone seeking a full perspective on the Pacific war."-- The Washington Times

"Mitter applies historical empathy to yield fresh insights into the situations of all the actors in the horrific conflict that the Chinese call the War of Resistance Against Japan." -- Foreign Affairs

Book Description

HMH hardcover, 2013, previous ISBN 978-0-618-89425-3
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1st edition (September 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061889425X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618894253
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (216 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Rana Mitter has contributed something that is basically unique, and that uniqueness is both astonishing and terrible. This is the first English language popular history of the Sino-Japanese War of 1932-1945 that actually tries to give the Chinese side. There are scholarly and political histories about the rise of the Chinese Communist Party, CCP, and monographs on aspects of Kuomintang rule, but general histories are genuinely lacking. Especially one that does not take Barbara Tuchman's "Stillwell and the American Experience in China" as its prime focus.

Mitter, does more than give the Chinese agency, he emphasizes the long and lonely war that the various Chinese factions fought against the Japanese, and how it was seen by both sides as part of the Anti-Imperialist struggle that dated back to the Opium Wars. In this struggle, Britain was as much an enemy as Japan, until the Japanese slowly but inexorably decided to take all of China for themselves in the name of anti Imperialism.

The events of the war are ably and unsensationally recounted, particularly after the creation of the United Front nd the outbreak of general hostilities in 1937. The Battle of Shanghai, the Sack of Nanking, the retreat into Sichuan, are all well told, and impressively a fair bit is made of the Nationalist success in keeping large areas of Central China free of the Japanese before 1941. Chiang is presented here, rightfully in my opinion, as a Chinese patriot who was fully committed to the war against Japan. Though the corruption of KMT rule is pointed out, it is presented in the context of its time.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
With the surrender of Japan on August 14, 1945, WW II came to an end, leaving the "Big Four" of the United States, Great Britain, the USSR and China as the powers that would play a permanent and central role in the formation of the United Nations. The war in Europe and in the Pacific has generated an enormous literature. The war between Japan and China, and its place in the global conflict, has received far less study. China suffered nearly 20,000,000 deaths during WW II, second only to the USSR. Rana Mitter's new book, "Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937 -- 1945" helped fill many gaps in my understanding of both WW II and its aftermath. The book offers an acesssible and balanced account of China's WW II, centering on the Japanese invasion. Mitter is professor of modern Chinese history at the University of Oxford.

Mitter explains the purpose of his study in a brief Prologue:

"In the early twenty-first century China has taken a place on the global stage and seeks to convince the world that it is a 'responsible great power'. One way in which it has sought to prove its case is to remind people of a time past, but not long past, when China stood alongside the other progressive powers against fascism: the Second World War. If we wish to understand the role of China in today's global society, we would do well to remind ourselves of the tragic, titanic struggle which that country waged in the 1930s and 1940s not just for its own national dignity and survival, but for the victory of all the Allies, west and east, against some of the darkest forces that history has ever produced.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Rana Mitter's Forgotten Ally is a excellent book on the role of China during WWII and the Chinese leaders: Chiang Kai Shek, Mao Zedong, and Wang Jingwei (whom I did not really know much about).

Mitter's view is very fair and balanced to all sides. He breaks through the version we all have heard about China during WWII, Chiang Kai Shek was corrupt and that the Chinese Communists under Mao were the only ones who really fought the Japanese. Mitter helps set the record more straight. Yes, Chiang Kai Shek and the Nationalists were corrupt, he does not gloss over that, but they also had a much bigger role in the fight against Japan than the Communists like to say. At the same time, Mitter gives a much more realistic view of Mao and the communists that is way more complex and realistic than the version we often get which mirrors the Chinese Communist Party view. I was especially interested in Mitter's take on the Xian Incident, which the communists tell was Chiang Kai Shek, being forced to stop fighting the communists and start fighting the Japanese. We learn that is not what happened nor the reason for the kidnapping. I also liked Mitter's short take on the affects of the Marshall Mission at the very end of the War in attempting to stop the Civil War from starting again.

I liked that the author went beyond the simplistic and in a readable fashion gives a more in depth view of the importance of China during WWII to the overall Allied Victory, while setting the record straight with a more realistic view of what happened.

I recommend this book to people interested in Chinese History or WWII history.
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