Japan Prepares for Total War: The Search for Economic Security, 1919 1941 / Edition 1

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The roots of Japan's aggressive, expansionist foreign policy have often been traced to its concern over acute economic vulnerability. Michael A. Barnhart tests this assumption by examining the events leading up to World War II in the context of Japan's quest for economic security, drawing on a wide array of Japanese and American sources.

Barnhart focuses on the critical years from 1938 to 1941 as he investigates the development of Japan's drive for national economic self-sufficiency and independence and the way in which this drive shaped its internal and external policies. He also explores American economic pressure on Tokyo and assesses its impact on Japan's foreign policy and domestic economy. He concludes that Japan's internal political dynamics, especially the bitter rivalry between its army and navy, played a far greater role in propelling the nation into war with the United States than did its economic condition or even pressure from Washington. Japan Prepares for Total War sheds new light on prewar Japan and confirms the opinions of those in Washington who advocated economic pressure against Japan.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A first-rate, original account of Japan's road to war, fortified with documentation largely unavailable in English. Michael A. Barnhart's unique perspective is sure to enrich our understanding of the 1930s and of the origins of the Pacific War."—Akira Iriye

From the Publisher

"A first-rate, original account of Japan's road to war, fortified with documentation largely unavailable in English. Michael A. Barnhart's unique perspective is sure to enrich our understanding of the 1930s and of the origins of the Pacific War."-Akira Iriye

Library Journal
Though the subject has been much studied, this book belongs to a small corpus of works based upon both English- and Japanese-language sources. In emphasizing that Japan's drive for empire was rooted in its economic insecurity, the book is in the tradition of James Crowley's Japan's Quest for Autonomy, 1930-38 (1966). Barnhart's work, however, covers a broader time span, is based upon a wealth of documentation that has become available in the past two decades, and also covers U.S.-Japanese diplomatic relations more thoroughly than Crowley's did. Barnhart's book is even-handed and scholarly in tone. Though its appeal will be limited mainly to specialists, general readers who have some knowledge of the topic will find it rewarding. John H. Boyle, History Dept., California State Univ., Chico
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801495298
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1988
  • Series: Cornell Studies in Security Affairs Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 1,013,381
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael A. Barnhart is Distinguished Teaching Professor and Chair, Department of History at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He is the author of Japan and the World since 1868 and editor of Congress and United States Foreign Policy: Controlling the Use of Force in the Nuclear Age.

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Table of Contents


1. The Rise of Autarky in Japanese Strategic Planning

2. International Law and Stove-Pipe Hats

3. Merging the Drives for Autarky and Reform

4. The Road to Ruin: Japan Begins the China Incident

5. Bitter Mortgage: The Economic Consequences of the China Incident

6. To Defend the Open Door

7. Swastika and Red Star: The Imperial Army's Economic and Strategic Dilemmas of 1939

8. Caretakers and the Quest for Autarky: Marking Time 148

9. The Navy's Price: Japan Commences the Southward Advance

10. To Arm and Appease

11. Unsettled Details: The Debate over the Southward Advance

12. Soft Words and Big Sticks

13. A Final Wager: Japan Consummates the Southward Advance

14. The Pacific War


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