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Japanese Military Strategy in the Pacific War: Was Defeat Inevitable? Paperback – August 5, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0742553408 ISBN-10: 074255340X

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Japanese Military Strategy in the Pacific War: Was Defeat Inevitable? + The War with Japan: The Period of Balance, May 1942-October 1943 (Total War Series No. 1)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (August 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074255340X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742553408
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.5 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #776,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

[Wood's] carefully constructed arguments stem from a wide reading and understanding of the war's historic literature, and his suggested alternative courses of Japanese actions are entirely credible . . . [his] careful examination of alternative possibilities in the Pacific War is an impressive example of good counterfactual history. (Col. Stanley L. Falk The Journal of the Australian Society of Archivists)

Wood has raised many provocative points worthy of debate. Recommended. (CHOICE)

This impressive counterfactual analysis demonstrates that the course of the Pacific War was not set in stone. Wood demonstrates, through careful analysis of alternatives actually discussed by Japan’s leaders, that the decision to go to war was not an exercise in national suicide. Instead, specific choices closed a window of opportunity for Japan to have bought more time and might well have altered fundamentally the war’s conclusion. (Dennis E. Showalter, Colorado College; author of Patton and Rommel: Men of War in the Twentieth Century)

About the Author

James B. Wood is Charles Keller Professor of History at Williams College.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Richard Worth on April 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
This intellectual tidbit offers no ground-breaking scholarship, with its bibliography full of secondary sources, all of them English-language. This is no crippling flaw though, given the author's purpose simply to challenge the conventional view of Japan's inevitable defeat by the Allied industrial powerhouses.
The text highlights some Japanese mistakes familiar anyone who has read about the Pacific War: failure on the offensive and defensive sides of the submarine duel, piecemeal commitments to dubious campaigns, etc. Perhaps Wood's most novel point concerns suicide attacks, which he regards as effective and commonsensical and worthy of refinement.
His critique of Japan's war effort fails to distinguish between strategic mistakes and defeat in battle. When the Japanese lose while pressing their initiative, they are guilty of systematic over-extension; when they lose on the defensive, they are guilty of conceding the fight to the enemy's terms. They are criticized simultaneously for failing to stick to their game plan and for failing to adapt to new situations. Apparently the Japanese can neither have their cake nor eat it.
Likewise, readers must go without a precise definition of the defeat in war that Japan is trying to avoid. Is any negotiated settlement that prevents occupation of the home islands better than a "defeat"? Wood seems content to see Japan lose all its conquests and all its continental holdings, avoid invasion, and call it a draw.
At its essence, Wood's alternative scenario is a fundamental switch from Japan's short-war strategy. He examines the salient features of a long-war strategy, and while the book gives only a superficial look at the global ramifications of this switch, it does usefully summarize the immediate consequences.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Scott on February 9, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is over priced for both the lightness of its content and the number of its pages. The execution is very sloppy (mistaking the Japanese Admiral Ozawa for Kurita, and various misspellings), and I have to admit that this flaw in editing or writing causes me to cast a jaundiced eye at any conclusions the author seeks to draw. In the conclusion author states that he sought to challenge the conventional historic understanding of the war in the Pacific, but in my reading of a number of books on the Pacific I have never confronted the problem that he is challenging. You are better off spending your money elsewhere!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By z on March 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book would provide a useful text for an advanced course on the WWII in the Pacific. It would serve nicely as a supplemental text. It can provide a nice jumping off point to discuss some of the political and military issues that faced Japan from an alternative perspective that encourages critical thinking about the war and its conduct. It also has a nice bibliography that students might find helpful.

This book is not a history text. There are plenty of very fine books out there. This is not the first book you should read on the war in the Pacific, but if you have read a few this one will provide some fresh perspective.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lee Hunt on March 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book, really well explained and interesting. Fascinating because its clear the Japanese could have done "better"- very fun read because too many history books are just accounts of what happened- not the thinking or strategy behind what choices were and could have been made.
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