Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan

Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan

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by Ronald H. Spector
     
 

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Historian Ronald H. Spector, drawing on declassified intelligence files, an abundance of British and American archival material, Japanese scholarship and documents, and the research and memoirs of scholars, politicians, and the military men, presents a thrilling narrative of American war in the Pacific.

Spector reassesses U.S. and Japanese strategy and offers…  See more details below

Overview

Historian Ronald H. Spector, drawing on declassified intelligence files, an abundance of British and American archival material, Japanese scholarship and documents, and the research and memoirs of scholars, politicians, and the military men, presents a thrilling narrative of American war in the Pacific.

Spector reassesses U.S. and Japanese strategy and offers some provocative interpretations. He shows that the dual advance across the Pacific by MacArthur and Nimitz was less a product of strategic calculation and more a pragmatic solution to bureaucratic, doctrinal, and public relations problems facing the Army and Navy. He also argues that Japan made its fatal error not in the Midway campaign but in abandoning its offensive strategy after that defeat and allowing itself to be drawn into a war of attrition.

Combining impeccable research with electrifying detail, Spector vividly recreates the major battles, little-known campaigns, and unfamiliar events of this brutal 44-month struggle. He reveals that the U.S. had secret plans to wage unrestricted submarine warfare against Japan months before Pearl Harbor and demonstrates that MacArthur and his commanders ignored important intercepts of Japanese messages that would have saved thousands of lives in Papua and Leyte. He skillfully takes the reader from top-secret strategy meetings in Washington, London, and Tokyo to distant beaches and remote Asian jungles with battle-weary GIs. Throughout, Spector contends that American decisions in the Pacific War were shaped more often by the struggles between the British and the Americans, and between the Army and the Navy, than by strategic considerations. Revealing what really happened in the course of a conflict that ended with the most deadly air raid ever, this contribution to WWII history adds a new dimension to our understanding of the people and forces that determined its outcome.

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Editorial Reviews

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
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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781476727424
Publisher:
Free Press
Publication date:
12/11/2012
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
592
Sales rank:
149,969
File size:
23 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Ronald H. Spector graduated from John Hopkins University and received his PhD from Yale University. He served with the US Marines in Vietnam and was a Senior Fulbright scholar in India during 1977 and 1978. A frequent contributor to scholarly journals, his publications include: In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia (2007); Professors of War: The Naval War College and the Development of the Naval Profession (2005); At War At Sea: Sailors and Naval Combat in the Twentieth Century (2002); and After Tet: The Bloodiest Year in Vietnam (1994). He is professor of history and international affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University.

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Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
glauver More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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?
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