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Ghost of War: The Sinking of the Awa Maru and Japanese-American Relations,1945-1995 Hardcover – November, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: US Naval Institute Press (November 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557501599
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557501592
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,258,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Harry Eagar VINE VOICE on December 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In the foggy night of April 1, 1945, a large Japanese passenger-cargo liner, loaded to the Plimsoll line, raced past the coast of Fukien province in China. The American submarine Queenfish tracked her by radar and sonar and launched torpedoes that sank the Awa maru.

One man survived. Two thousand military experts, bureaucrats and camp followers did not, including some children. Also lost were tons of tin, rubber and other military cargo.

It was not supposed to happen that way. The Awa maru had sailed south on an American safe conduct to deliver food and medical supplies to Allied prisoners of war in Southeast Asia.

The Japanese were not supposed to load the ship with desperately needed military specialists and critical materials, but they did. The Americans were not supposed to sink her, but they did.

Roger Dingman's exhaustive history explains how the story of the Awa maru came to be understood so differently in America and in Japan.

Actually, though there was no attempt at a cover-up, the Awa maru was soon forgotten in America, though it was labeled (by Navy officers) the "biggest mistake" of the undersea offensive in the Pacific.

It was different in Japan, where the loss of the Awa maru was incessantly publicized to promote nationalism.

Dingman enthusiastically agrees that the Japanese nation was a victim in the war, a strange proposition. As far as I know, the only Japanese victim during the war was Hotsumi Ozaki, the spy who tipped off Richard Sorge and was executed.

But even before it is possible to play the victimization game, Dingman must show that America violated international law, intentionally or by error; but neither he nor the other modern Pufendorfs can say what law.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Professor Dingman spins a compelling narrative of the accidental sinking of a Japanese merchant ship sailing under safe passage negotiated clandestinely by the U.S. and Japan during the last part of WWII. Much wider implications include causal factors relating to the whole issue of the nature of the war in the Pacific as presented in such works as Craig Cameron's American Samurai, John Dower's War without Mercy, Gerald Linderman's World within War and the rest of the literature on racism and predatory warfare. Beyond the nature of war, however, Dr Dingman deals with the myths that linger, especially the way societies recreate their memories of war. Almost as soon as the sinking occurred the creation of different, divergent public memories of the incident in both countries would spoil the well to such an extent that a rift between private and public factions in both would allow a third party, China (PRC), to reap the benefits of salvage. Here the works on the creation of public myth, like Marling and Wetenhall's Iwo Jima, resonate. The multi-archival approach Dr Dingman can use because of his fluency in Japanese is employed at not only the highest levels, in the tradition of Ernest May, Akira Iriye, and Waldo Heinrichs, but also at the level of the common man employed by diplomatic historians like Michael Hunt who in his seminal The Making of a Special Relationship, explores popular culture as well. A gripping tale, heard to put down, this book has lessons for us not only about World War Two, but the lingering myths and malaise of Vietnam.
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