Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan

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Overview

Only now can the full scope of the war in the Pacific be fully understood. Historian Ronald Spector, drawing on newly declassified intelligence files, an abundance of British and American archival material. Japanese scholarship and documents, and research and memoirs of scholarly and military men, has written a stunning, complete and up-to-date history of the conflict.

"A superbly readable, insightful, gripping, unbiased history of the American-Japanese ...

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Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan

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Overview

Only now can the full scope of the war in the Pacific be fully understood. Historian Ronald Spector, drawing on newly declassified intelligence files, an abundance of British and American archival material. Japanese scholarship and documents, and research and memoirs of scholarly and military men, has written a stunning, complete and up-to-date history of the conflict.

"A superbly readable, insightful, gripping, unbiased history of the American-Japanese war."--Washington Post Book World

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Spector has done the impossible and done it ,with dazzling brilliance. Mining a warehouse of material with absolute control, he has produced a superbly readable, insightful, gripping, unbiased one-volume history of the American-Japanese war that is at the same time a glorious celebration of the American spirit."

— Clay Blair. front page. The Washington Post Book World

"The best one-volume history of that complex conflict... No other presents as balanced a view or provides such terse and searching analyses not only of the great battles but of half-forgotten aspects, such as the impact of blacks and female participants on the services...No future book on the Pacific war will be written without paying due tribute to Eagle Against The Sun."

— Drew Middleton, The New York Times

"Clear, coherent, effective...this is an excellent book... likely to be for a long time to come the standard, comprehensive history of the Pacific Ocean War." — Russell E Weighley, Temple University.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A historian at the Army Center for Military History, Spector concentrates on the problem of command in the Southern Pacific theaters, the rivalries between the various U.S. armed services and the problem of allocating resources. PW praised his ability to ``show how even the most efficiently run campaigns unfold against a background of violent dispute.'' November
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394741017
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/1985
  • Edition description: 1st Vintage Books ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 589
  • Sales rank: 267,714
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 7.97 (h) x 1.26 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2007

    A reviewer

    Ronald Spector provides a combined summary history with very capable critical analysis of every major campaign between America and Japan during World War II. The strategic analysis is what really sets Spector's book apart from other Pacific War histories. For both Japan and the US, he examines and carefully critiques pre-war thinking, pre-war contingency plans, military organization, strategy, and tactics. The conclusion Spector comes to is one well known to chess fans - the side which makes the fewest mistakes wins. While Spector admits the final outcome of the war was largely a forgone conclusion (due to American industrial might and desire for vengeance after Pearl Harbor), he correctly concludes that the war in the Pacific could have been ended significantly earlier than it actually did - and with a reduced cost in human life. For example, Allied resources in the Pacific were constantly split between the Central Pacific (swiftest and shortest path to Japan) and the Southwest Pacific Commands (under politically powerful MacArthur). This dispersion of effort often came dangerously close to disaster, most notably in the Leyte Gulf battle. However, the Americans did rapidly develop new tactics and organizational capabilities, while Japanese military tactics mostly stagnated and ultimately relied on hopeless suicide tactics. Spector also evaluates the competency of the key individual commanders, with many American stars (e.g. Nimitz, Turner, Mitscher, Holland Smith) and a few Japanese ones (Yamamoto, Yamashita, and Kuribayashi). He deflates the myth of MacArthur being a 'great commander' and exposes him as mostly a publicity-seeking political general. Spector wraps up with a discussion of dropping the atomic bomb and whether or not it was the right decision. Basically, he states that although most people nowadays feel this was decision was morally wrong, it is difficult to fault the American decision-makers at the time. The US and Japan were fighting a knockdown-dragout war to the death, which was started by a sneak attack, being conducted by a Japanese military that had no value for human life, with a prospect of MILLIONS more lives being lost in the invasion of Japan proper. For the American serviceman, Truman essentially gave these millions (both Japanese and American) a death reprieve at the cost of 250,000 Japanese casualties. Horrific and cold, yes. But, ultimately the least costly human outcome possible to end the war. This is an outstanding book, packed with thoughtful analysis and carefully researched. I hightly recommend it!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Fine Account of the Pacific War

    WWII books often center on the European conflict. Ronald Spector has written a fine overview of the Pacific war. He does a fine job of outlining the strategy and tactics used by both America and Japan. He is unafraid of criticizing US leaders and of noting weapon system failures (torpedoes, aircraft, B29 bombing, etc.). However, he is fair and also highlights American heroism and adaptability. Buffs of individual battles and campaigns may find their particular interest is skimmed over but Spector's theme is the progress of the war, not its details. Map students may find the lack of maps annoying although it did not bother me. All in all, I feel this is a fine general account of the conflict.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2014

    Inaccurate at times but interesting

    A typical mistaken the author makes is for example, describibg Spruance as the commandr of the 7th fleet. Another is decribing one of the Sho-Go plans as combinging the protection of the Kuriles and Ryukus in the same plan. Makes me wonder what else he has wrong?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted December 13, 2013

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    Posted May 12, 2009

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    Posted May 4, 2010

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    Posted December 7, 2008

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    Posted October 30, 2008

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