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Allies against the Rising Sun: The United States, the British Nations, and the Defeat of Imperial Japan (Modern War Studies) Hardcover – October 27, 2009
"Brilliantly fills a major void in the literature on the Pacific War. The story that emerges comes alive with a cast of characters as colorful as the new canvas is broad."—Richard B. Frank, author of Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire "An innovative, penetrating, and thoroughly engaging account that casts familiar strategies, episodes, and personalities in dramatically new light."—Michael Schaller, author of Douglas MacArthur "A powerful and immensely readable history that reminds us that the United States was not the only nation involved in the final defeat of Japan."—David Day, author of Menzies and Churchill at War "A masterful study written with wit and verve."—Roger Dingman, author of Ghost of War and Deciphering the Rising Sun "A new interpretation of a key episode in Britain's last days as a Great Power—one that strongly challenges much of the received wisdom on the subject."—Raymond Callahan, author of Churchill and His Generals "A welcome and invaluable reassessment of Allied strategic planning for the war against Japan, especially enlightening on the importance of personality and politics in coalition diplomacy."—George C. Herring, author of From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776
From the Back Cover
"Brilliantly fills a major void in the literature on the Pacific War. The story that emerges comes alive with a cast of characters as colorful as the new canvas is broad."--Richard B. Frank, author of Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire
"An innovative, penetrating, and thoroughly engaging account that casts familiar strategies, episodes, and personalities in dramatically new light."--Michael Schaller, author of Douglas MacArthur
"A powerful and immensely readable history that reminds us that the United States was not the only nation involved in the final defeat of Japan."--David Day, author of Menzies and Churchill at War
"A masterful study written with wit and verve."--Roger Dingman, author of Ghost of War and Deciphering the Rising Sun
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As author Nicholas Evan Sarantakes points out, British leaders such as Churchill believed that defeat of the Japanese deserved a near equal priority with Germany because he wanted to hold on to the British Empire in Asia and the Pacific. British principalities in the region also enthusiastically supported allied efforts because of internal priorities--independence for one--while the Americans welcomed allies to help defeat the Japanese but were concerned about the price of this aid. In the end, operations against the Japanese were hindered by allied squabbling, some of it nothing more than personality conflicts.
This is a strong history that does a good job with diplomacy, politics, and military operations.
This book tries to answer three major questions related to British participation in the closing stages of the Pacific War. Why did Great Britain wish to take part in the invasion of Japan and other operations around the home islands. Why did the Commonwealth nations wish to contribute, given that their people wanted to demobilize as soon as possible. Why did the US agree to British and Commonwealth participation in these closing operations.
It was believed at high levels of government of both countries that if there were to be cooperation between the US and Britain after the war, Britain would have to earn its position and fight to the end. It was believed that the US government and its people would turn on Britain if it tried to reclaim lost colonies like Singapore while the US finished the war.
A key issue of this book in answering those questions is the presentation of the key people that reflected the sentiments for and against the issues discussed. A small list of people discussed in this book include Truman, Churchill, Eden, Brooke, Cunningham, Portal, Marshall, MacArthur, Mountbatten, Nimitz and others. The author does an excellent job of portraying the personal side as well as their military or political side of these people. While there were disputes between the two countries, there were even more disputes between Churchill and his Chiefs as to the prosecution of the Pacific War. The author does mention these disputes, but he doesn't dwell or emphasize them over the positive attributes.
After Germany's defeat, Churchill and Eden favored, as their primary responsibility, to have the British Commonwealth reclaim their Far East Colonies, with Singapore their main target. If afterwards the British were still needed then they would support the US. Churchill believed that by Britain acting as a subsidiary force under the Americans in the Pacific, it would prove impossible for Britain to reclaim former interests. Churchill believed Britain could only stay strong if it had its Empire. Brooke, Cunningham, Portal strongly disagreed with that plan. They favored staying the course with the US until the end. They saw the future of their country only recovering if it stayed close with the US. After WWI, the Alliance fell apart and the two countries became rivals. With the outlook of trouble with the Soviet Union, it was essential to keep the Alliance with the US viable and healthy. The three chiefs had a more realistic attitude about Britain's future in regards to letting go their colonies than Churchill.
To quicken the pace, there are also three chapters on the sea and land battles at Okinawa and how Britain handled their responsibilites well. There are also profiles on MacArthur and Mountbatten and the "cordial" relationship that grew out of their differences during the planning of the invasion of Japan.
There are separate chapters on Canada, Australia and New Zealand dealing with their interests and levels of participation in the invasion. Even France was included as supplying a Corps to the invasion. The Soviet Union was briefly mention but didn't play an important role in this study. LeMay and his "Rain of Fire" bombing program on Japan is included as well.
The Epilogue discusses what happened to the key characters after the war. The author closes with an extensive Notes and Bibliography sections as well as an Index.
I enjoyed this book for its profiles on key people were interesting as well as the explaination of British interest and attitudes on finishing the Pacific War and how Britain would participate with the rebuilding of the world afterwards. The British side was very good and interesting but I couldn't give this book five stars for the US position was clearly not as well developed. Even if the US was playing the secondary role in the author's story, there should have been more. If I could, a rating of 4.5 would have been given.
There were some similarities between the Pacific theater and the European theater concerning the main allies' relationship but there were differences as well as the US was gaining in strength and dominance in the world, leaving Great Britain behind and anybody interested in this topic will most likely learn something new from reading this book for Mr Sarantakes is clearly well read on the subject and presents an interesting and informative study.