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Until its loss in World War II, Japan had not known failure in centuries of warfare. This record of the conflict goes beyond mere description to illuminate why Japan instigated a conflict with the only nation—the United States—capable of defeating her, as well as the crucial shifts in the nature of naval power and strategy that occurred during the fighting. Set off on the road to war, analyzing the effects of the first world conflict; Japan's policies in China; the first victories, as Japan surges through Asia; ...
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Until its loss in World War II, Japan had not known failure in centuries of warfare. This record of the conflict goes beyond mere description to illuminate why Japan instigated a conflict with the only nation—the United States—capable of defeating her, as well as the crucial shifts in the nature of naval power and strategy that occurred during the fighting. Set off on the road to war, analyzing the effects of the first world conflict; Japan's policies in China; the first victories, as Japan surges through Asia; the great battles of Midway and Guadacanal; and the final defeat, with the devastating launch of the first nuclear weapons. 224 pages, 70 color illus., 80 b/w illus., 7 3/4 x 10 3/8.
Posted January 2, 2007
Besides being a visual treasure with numerous black and white photos, the book is complemented with many maps and diagrams along with a few color photos. Even the pages are made of thick high-quality stock. The very high production values are what initially attracted me to this book. But, I was surprised to find that even the writing was of an unexpected caliber, full of thoughtful analysis on why Japan went to war with China, the US, and almost every other major power during World War II. Beyond that the author, H.P. Willmot, goes into real depth in explaining Japan's apparent invincibility during the opening months of the war only to face total, utter defeat by August 1945. The most crucial Japanese mistake was an underestimation of wrathful American vengeance unleashed at Pearl Harbor. Unlike what the Japanese planners had imagined, this desire for vengeance would not fade and disappear after 18 months of attritional warfare. Instead the US would not cease until Japan was soundly defeated and militarily occupied. Willmott goes on to examine Japan's precarious position regarding its industrial base versus the US. Whereas great losses in American naval and merchant shipping could be rapidly and easily replaced, each Japanese vessel lost could never be totally replaced. As Japan's shipping losses mounted with increased American submarine campaigns and carrier raids, the raw materials needed for its war machine were left permanently stranded in far-off Southeast Asian ports. The author does an excellent job of investigating both the material and doctrinal weaknesses of the Japanese versus the US. What the Japanese had envisaged as a limited war turned into a nightmare of total war with the world's first superpower. The US's resources were so great that even though it didn't give the Pacific Campaign top priority it still produced an overwhelming and convincing victory against smaller, less technologically advanced Japanese forces. Indeed, had the military regime in Tokyo been realistic and morally capable of suing for peace it probably should have done so after the Midway battle before American predominance began to convincingly assert itself. Finally, the book has data on naval battle losses, new ship commissionings, combined shipping losses, and short biographies of the leading personalities in the campaign. I enjoyed both the pictures and the text and had the book read in just a few short days. I highly recommend it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 2, 2003
A surprising book. Looks at the traditional military campaigns from an intriuging angle that is rigorous without cheap revisionism. Strong emphasis on the critical "all-arms" US campaign against the Japanese Merchant Marine. Also interesting on the origins of the War. I had read other authors who felt that the Two-Ocean Navy Act of 1940 faced Japan with clear inferiority by 1944. Thus the Navy pushed for war with the West at a time when the Army had lost influence due to STALEMATE in China and DEFEAT (Khalkin GoL) on the Russian Border. Willmott offers the POSSIBILITY that the NAVY did not move just because of the NUMBERS issue. It moved because the age profile of the Fleet threated massive obsolescence at the exact time (1994) that the US would get a huge modern fleet. The Japanese Navy went on an 18 month crash maintenance program to get the Fleet in optimum condition for battle by the Winter of 1941/42. The Navy cornered shipyard resources that caused a substantial part of the Merchant Marine to be laid up for lack of routine maintenance. One could speculate the Pearl Harbor was in the cards by the Summer of 1940 and had little to do with any action by the US in 1941. The Battle of France drove an isolationist America to rearm - and thus drove the Japanese Navy to fight before its artificial position of strength (caused by the war in Europe, the Washington Naval Treaty, and early re-armament in the 1930's) disappeared forever.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.