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1945: A Novel Paperback – May 29, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
At the start of Conroy's compelling third alternate history (after 1901 and 1862), military extremists, honor bound by the Japanese code of Bushido, kidnap Emperor Hirohito hours before he's set to announce his country's formal surrender in the aftermath of the atom bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Led by aging samurai and fanatical army general Korechika Anami, the new regime manipulates President Truman into invading the Japanese home islands. The massive offensive (with ground forces led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur) meets stiff resistance, including kamikaze attacks and the use of POWs as human shields. But as the U.S. finds itself slowly sinking into a nightmarish military quagmire, two improbable heroes chart a path to victory. Conroy explores the carnage of war through numerous viewpoints (a naïve American soldier, an escaped POW, a Japanese-American operative, the deposed emperor, etc.) with moving and thought-provoking results. For another take on the same scenario, see Douglas Niles and Michael Dobson's MacArthur's War: A Novel of the Invasion of Japan (Reviews, Mar. 26). (May 29)
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Conroy has Japan's surrender after the A-bombs short-circuited by extremists. That leads to a typhoon-battered U.S. invasion that encounters last-ditch Japanese resistance. There are a third of a million American casualties, and two more A-bombs are dropped on Japan. Realistic to the point of gruesomeness, 1945recalls David Westheimer's classic Lighter Than a Feather(1971). Roland Green
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Top Customer Reviews
I am concerned about only one thing. A reviewer before me wrote what seemed like a standard review. I seldom read what others have said before I review a book as afterall, our views are personal. I only read that review because there were over fifty comments about the reviewer, not the book, and there was an attack on the honesty of the reviewer. I trust that any comments made here will be based upon the merits of the book and the reader may of course agree or disagree with me. There's one area I confess that I don't know enough about. That is in regard to weaponry so I cannot evaluate the accuracy used by Robert Conroy in those descriptions. I just know when I enjoy a good story and I do write book reviews for a local newspaper. I know how to give my personal opinion without trying to force others to agree with me. I am no better and no worse than any other book lover. I can only bring my own past experiences and studies to the fore when reading and reviewing a book.
This book, however, is wrong from the introduction. Mr. Conroy appears to have bought the Japanese version of WWII in toto, particularly the end-phase. For him - and for anyone who still believes that Hirohito was a "puppet" of "Japanese militarists" - I suggest you read "Japan's Imperial Conspiracy," by David Bergamini. The book was written from original Japanese source material, and conclusively proves the Emperor was firmly in charge over even the minutest details of Japan's aggression. I was living in Japan when the book was first published, and well remember the furor it aroused: the Japanese government confiscated all copies it could lay its hands on, destroyed them, and declared Mr. Bergamini Persona Non Grata. If you wish to read the "alternative" of WWII in the Pacific, the true story is far better than the politically-correct one in our history books.
As for the proposed invasion of Japan, anyone who has studied the war in the Pacific will not be muchly impressed with "1945."
It is interesting to compare "1945" with "MacArthur's War." "1945" is far more entertaining and readable. This is not great literature, but it is great storytelling. The major characters have some shortcomings; some are very well-done and multi-dimensional (Truman and Hirohito for example), while others lack depth and a sense of realism (Patton and MacArthur). The real strength in Conroy's novel are the "grunts" who have to carry out the war in Japan and the war at home. This book is the classic example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. If you analyzed this book in pieces (plot, character, dialogue, plausibility, etc) I doubt that any one part would garner five stars. Put it all together, though, and it works wonderfully.
I have not previously read Conroy's other works, but based on "1945," I will. I highly recommend this book.