- Paperback: 688 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (March 10, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307275361
- ISBN-13: 978-0307275363
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (203 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45 Paperback – March 10, 2009
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“[A] masterly account of the climax of the conflict against Japan. . . . Hastings is a military historian in the grand tradition.” —The New York Times Book Review“Compelling. . . . To the broad sweep of military events Hastings adds myriad human stories . . . and he does not hesitate to offer his own keen analysis along the way.” —The Wall Street Journal“Through the imaginative power of his writing, we get an inkling . . . of what it must have been like to slog one's way up a cliff at Iwo Jima, or be firebombed in Tokyo.” —The New York Review of Books“A triumph. . . . The key to the book's success lies not in its accessibility, nor in its vivid portraits of the key figures in the drama—although it has both—but in something else entirely: the author's supremely confident ambition.” —The Sunday Times (London)"Hastings has another winner . . . This book is first-rate popular history, stiffened with a strongly stated point of view . . . A close-up and personal look at war as it affected real people, and how it felt to them at the time."—Harry Levins, St. Louis Post-Dispatch"Explosive, argumentative, intensely researched . . . Demands to be read. A book of stunning disclosures."—Tom Mackin, Sunday Star-Ledger"[A] masterful interpretive narrative . . . Hastings is both comprehensive and finely acute."—Booklist"Spectacular . . . Searingly powerful. Hastings makes important points about the war in the East that have been all too rarely heard." —Andrew Roberts, The Sunday Telegraph"Extraordinary . . . Anyone who believes that we're all living through a uniquely troubled time should read this . . . book." —Georgie Rose, The Sunday Herald"This is a book not only for military history buffs but for anyone who wants to understand what happened in half the world during one of the bloodiest periods of the blood-soaked 20th century."—The Spectator"Highly readable . . . An admirably balanced re-examination of the last phases of a conflict that it is not fashionable to remember."—Dan van der Vat, The Guardian"Engrossing . . . Its originality lies in the meticulousness of the author's research and the amazing witnesses he has found."—Murray Sayle, The Evening Standard"Hastings is . . . a master of the sort of detail that illuminates the human cost. It is the way he leaps so adeptly to and fro between the vast panorama and the tiny snapshot pictures that makes him such a readable historian."—Mail on Sunday
About the Author
Sir Max Hastings was a foreign correspondent for many years, reporting from more than 60 countries for BBC TV and the London Evening Standard. He reported conflict in the Middle East, Indochina, Angola, India, Zimbabwe and finally the 1982 Falklands War. He has presented historical documentaries for television, including series on the Korean War and on Churchill and his generals. He is the recipient of numerous British awards for his books and journalism, including Journalist of the Year (1982), and Editor of the Year (1988). He has written 18 books on military history and current events. Some notables are Bomber Command, which earned the Somerset Maugham Prize for nonfiction, The Battle for the Falklands, Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy, both of which also received awards. For 16 years, he was successively editor-in-chief of the British Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard, from which he retired in 2002. He has published two memoirs, Going To The Wars (2000) about his experiences as a war correspondent, and Editor (2003) about his time running newspapers. He lives outside London.
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Top Customer Reviews
As with all of Hastings' books, you should have some background knowledge on the topic before you read it. He breezes through a lot of events and assumes you know enough to keep up. He then delves into the events and other factors that explain what was happening. He will present the opinions of various historians, but more often than not, he will shoot down those opinions and explain why he disagrees. His opinionated writing is fascinating for the historian and has become a bit of his trademark.
In this book, he outlines the fall of the Japanese empire, from Midway to Burma, with primary emphasis on the final year of the war. He gives equal weight to all theaters of the Pacific, rather than just focusing on MacArthur or Nimitz. He tries his hand at explaining the Japanese war mentality that is so foreign to the Western mind. He also finishes the book with a condemnation of Japan for never having fully repudiated their wartime behavior in the way that Germany has.
Overall, this is a thorough and fascinating account of the end of the war in the Pacific. But again, make sure you have solid background in ALL areas of the war against Japan before you read this.
Hastings takes plenty of time to to make individual Japanese human, especially in his description of the fire bombing of Tokyo Hasting also throws in lots and lots of statistics, which the casual reader can ignore and more serious readers of military history will revel in.
Using a fantastic amount of resource materiel the author has captured every aspect of the war in the Pacific from the attack at Pearl Harbour to the signing of the surrender at Tokyo Bay aboard the USS Missouri. What enhances this work is the author captures the experiences of both sides as well as the decisions and directives of the most senior Generals and Admirals down to the everyday experiences of private soldiers, sailors and civilians caught up in battles from Manila to Okinawa.
The author also captures the political side of the Pacific war with the personal aspirations of Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt and how they viewed different sides of the Pacific conflict as 'their' important focus. Also the conflict between General MacAthur and Admiral King on driving across the central Pacific or coming up through the Philippines to approach the Japanese home islands. The book also looks deeply at the decision to use the atomic bombs to hasten the end of the war and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria.
I was drawn to this book as it is very descriptive and contrasts the world of the most senior commanders of both sides with that of ordinary service personnel; for example the absolute despair of Japanese soldiers at the end of the major Pacific island battles as they attempted to sneak into newly won areas and steal food and water, to the desperation of sailors torpedoed in mid-Pacific who floundered in the water for sometimes days as sharks took their comrades and others around them went insane from thirst and sun.
The author has captured the essence of the Pacific war from its initial confused and very tumultuous beginnings to the very concerted and massive attacks towards the end. He takes the reader on a journey of many fronts with experiences from private soldier to supreme commander and examines how through blood, torrential rain and rolling oceans swells, the war in the Pacific developed from a massive front of many thousands of kilometres down to the focused destruction of Japan and its home islands.
In summary an extremely well researched and definitive account of the Pacific war, that gives explanation of how the early years of war in the Pacific evolved into a highly technological and very focused end game. For any student or reader who has an interest in the Pacific war, this book is not to be passed up. Well done, Max Hastings!