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The Battle for China: Essays on the Military History of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945 Hardcover – December 10, 2010
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"[The Battle for China] is by far the best academic treatment of the military history of the [Sino-Japanese] war in English . . . A chronology, fourteen maps, and a select bibliography in three languages make this an indispensable work for historians of modern China . . . In scope, it is the most comprehensive work on the military history of the war in English. It makes available a diverse body of scholarship, much of which has not been translated. It should stimulate additional research into one of the most significant events in the history of modern China."Parks M. Coble, Chinese Historical Review
"The Battle for China, an excellent collection of more than a dozen essays by nearly a score of American, British, Chinese, and Japanese scholars, is the first full English-language account of the Sino-Japanese War. Its unique description and analysis of military operations should please both the general reader and the specialist."Colonel Stanley L. Falk, ARMY Magazine
"A model of scholarship and tone, The Battle for China is a uniquely comprehensive overview of the military operations that shaped events in both China and Japan from 19371945. Each of the chapters has something to teach general readers and specialists about the semi-modern war that defined modern Asia."Dennis Showalter, Colorado College
"The Battle for China is a rare treasure that will likely renew interest in this underdeveloped field. For those interested in the Pacific war or greater insight into modern Chinese history, I highly recommend it."Major Robert S. Burrell, United States Marine Corps, Naval History Magazine
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Top Customer Reviews
However to the average person (including me) the actual details of the war remain vague, and while major events such as the Marco Polo Bridge, the fall of Nanjing, the Xian incident, the fall of Shanghai and Hong Kong, American support and the Flying Tigers are well known one doesn't get a broader sense of the conduct of the war and its wider implications.
Thus I am extremely grateful that this one volume work has been published and it has certainly lived up (and exceeded) my expectations.
The detailed chronology of the Japanese War 1937-1945 and the opening essay "An Overview of Major Military Campaigns during the Sino-Japanese War 1937-1945" which provides a blow by blow analysis of the war are well written and was exactly what I was looking for.
These were followed by many specialist topics such as the morale of the Japanese soldier, KMT and Communist guerrilla warfare, the Burma theater and individual campaigns that should excite the military buffs.
These were also well complemented and summarized by the concluding essays.
"The Strategic Correlation between the Sino-Japanese War and Pacific Wars"
"The Sino-Japanese War in History"
"The Sino Japanese War in the context of world history."
The description of the conflict as largely that of an agrarian society against an industrialized one was illuminating as were comparisons to Napoleon's war in the Spanish Peninsular in the 19th Century. Further topics such as the study of the benefits and limitations of strategic airpower and Mao's innovations in warfare by crafting a "people's army" are explored in greater depth than previous studies and there is a strong bibliography which can be used as a launchpad into further reading.
The balanced nature of the analysis of the various essays from Japanese and Chinese historians was also a strong recommendation for the further symposia of this type, especially in academic areas where there are emotionally charged issues.I hope this book, in a small way, can be used to help generate better understandings of the past and lessen political tension in the future.
However this book is marred by a minor flaw.
There are only 14 maps in the whole 600+ pages and the maps are all located in the front and are not in chronological order. They generally lack detail and some are difficult to read with the shading too light to easily distinguish areas and the keys are not comprehensive enough leaving some symbols unexplained. I can see that someone without a good understanding of Chinese geography would be quite confused by these maps.
But I would still give the book five stars. Essential to understanding that period in history!
Not all the essays in the book were of the same quality. I get the feeling some were written rather quickly and did not offer great insights as others. The quality is sometimes uneven between essays. But nonetheless I found it overall highly informative.
I did find interesting that almost all the mainland historians (many working in the central Party or military bureaus) in this work stated matter of factly that Chiang Kai Shek fought the Japanese with everything that was available for him, countering the popular myth of his unwillingness to fight the Japanese. Specifically, they challenged the view propogated by the likes of Tuchman that castigated Chiang for his unwillingness to let General Stillwell run the war. Recent works on Chiang have demonstrated the level of insubordination and Machiavellian mischief Stillwell undertook to undermine Chiang's relationship with the American military and civilian leadership, and even with his own wife. I think history is finally coming around to the view that Chiang did all he could to save China from Japanese domination.
Overall, a very good book on the subject.
1. Japan had a Tokyo HQ's plan and a suggestion from a top commander, General Okamura Yasuji, to attack and subdue Chungking (a.k.a. Chongqing) in 1942 and 1944 respectively. But the situation in the Pacific and other considerations of the Tokyo HQ did not allow this from happening. (Cf. p.383-385, p. 428 and p. 438)
2. These eight years cost Japan with 410,000 soldiers perished (not including the wounded), and China with possibly 10 million soldiers perished, not including the wounded. -- P. 46.
While these Japanese soldiers have been deified as Shinto deities through the sacred deification rite held late at night at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, and their deeds formally inscribed in the deities registers enshrined in the highest honour in the Shrine, what honour, if any, have these Chinese soldiers ever received? They are but nameless souls perhaps. (The Yasukuni deification rite is described inside the Yushukan military museum in the Shrine, and with a model on display there.)
3. China had a conditional "victory" over Japan in September 1945. But the final victory belongs to the Chinese Communist Party. (Cf. Chapter 12 and Chapter 16)
An excellent collection of 20 papers for a conference held in Hawaii in early 2004 for this year, the 70th year after the ending of the SJW of the 20th century.
(Hardcover purchased at Amazon.ca (Canada) this June.)