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Japan at War: An Oral History / Edition 1

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Following the release of Clint Eastwood’s epic film Letters from Iwo Jima, which was nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture, there has been a renewed fascination and interest in the Japanese perspective on World War II. This pathbreaking work of oral history is the first book ever to capture—in either Japanese or English—the experience of ordinary Japanese people during the war.

In a sweeping panorama, Haruko Taya Cook and Theodore F. Cook take us from the Japanese attacks on China in the 1930s to the Japanese home front during the inhuman raids on Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, offering the first glimpses of how the twentieth century’s most deadly conflict affected the lives of the Japanese population. The book “seeks out the true feelings of the wartime generation [and] illuminates the contradictions between the official views of the war and living testimony” (Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan).

Japan at War is a book to which Americans and Japanese will continue to turn for decades to come. With more than 30,000 copies sold to date, this edition features an updated cover designed to appeal to a new generation of readers.

In a vivid, sweeping panorama, this captivating oral history relates the remarkable story of Japanese people living during World War II, offering the first glimpses of how this century's most violent conflict affected the lives of the ordinary Japanese population.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"One of the essential books about World War II." &#8212The Philadelphia Inquirer

"The stories recorded in Japan at War provide insight into the confounding complexity of extreme human behavior during the war." &#8212San Francisco Chronicle

"Hereafter no one will be able to think, write, or teach about the Pacific War without reference to [the Cooks’] work." &#8212Marius B. Jansen, Princeton University

"Oral history of a compellingly high order." &#8212Kirkus Reviews

"Informed, nuanced, manysided, vivid—an impressive achievement." &#8212Ezra F. Vogel, Harvard University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565840393
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 10/28/1993
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 186,260
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Haruko Taya Cook is Fordham Marymount Professor Emerita in history at Marymount College of Fordham University. She lives in New York City.

Theodore F. Cook is a professor of Japanese history at William Paterson University. He lives in New York City.

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2005

    Condemnation of US & the Atomic Bomb

    This book if for revisionists and apologists. The liberal mind set won't accept the need for the use of the Bomb to end the war in the Pacific. Japan was willing to commit National suicide and take 1.5 million Americans with them. Fortunately, Truman dropped the Bomb twice. The Japanese only respect raw power.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2005

    not just for history majors

    This book defies the format of most history books -- in my experience most history books are one author's opinion on what happened -- usually during a time/event the author was not even present. The authors of this book (one American, one Japanese) gathered interviews with a *great* variety of people who actually experienced World War II on the Japanese side. Those interviewed come from different social classes and genders, on both the military and civilian side. I feel reading these personal perspectives has given me more insight than other more standard, 3rd person text accounts... plus the dialogue format made it very easy and enjoyable to read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2001

    It is a time machine that leaves you in Japan during the Pacific War.

    As a history major, Japan At War was a real treat. It gave you an indepth look at the mind set of the common Japanese citizen,and how they felt about going to war with the United States. It was very helpful in making my own conclusion of what happend between Japan and the United States, as well as seperating the Japanese people from the Japanese military and thier individual roles during the war. Great book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2001

    For those who doubt the Japanese would resist a 1945 invasion, read this book.

    The current revisionist thinkers have long decried Truman's decision to drop the A-bombs in 1945, saying that Japan was on the brink of surrender & her population would not resist. After reading the many interviews of the wartime Japanese citizens, from farmers to schoolgirls to shopkeepers & military men in this book, it becomes very apparent to the reader the planned US invasion would have been a ghastly affair of a million US & untold Japanese casualties. The Japanese government indoctrination the accounts describe the in 1st person was complete & truly chilling in the depths of the citizens' uniform resignation they would die resisting an invasion with sharpened poles & suicide charges. The lack of any thought of trying to evade or resist gov't orders to die is striking because it is so uniform. Interviews with the military people are interesting since they do crack the facade of the suicidal warrior (soldier on Saipan)& reinforce the picture of brutal disregard for prisoners (Korean guard in Manchurian 731 germ warfare operation). The story of the schoolgirl nurses on Okinawa is especially touching. A rare, must read book giving the wartime average Japanese mindset!

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    Posted April 23, 2009

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    Posted December 15, 2008

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