“[A] masterly account of the climax of the conflict against Japan. . . . Hastings is a military historian in the grand tradition.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Compelling. . . . To the broad sweep of military events Hastings adds myriad human stories . . . and he does not hesitate to offer his own keen analysis along the way.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Through the imaginative power of his writing, we get an inkling . . . of what it must have been like to slog one's way up a cliff at Iwo Jima, or be firebombed in Tokyo.” —The New York Review of Books
“A triumph. . . . The key to the book's success lies not in its accessibility, nor in its vivid portraits of the key figures in the drama—although it has both—but in something else entirely: the author's supremely confident ambition.” —The Sunday Times (London)
"Hastings has another winner. . . . This book is first-rate popular history, stiffened with a strongly stated point of view . . . A close-up and personal look at war as it affected real people, and how it felt to them at the time." —Harry Levins, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Explosive, argumentative, intensely researched. . . . Demands to be read. A book of stunning disclosures." —Tom Mackin, Sunday Star-Ledger
"[A] masterful interpretive narrative. . . . Hastings is both comprehensive and finely acute." —Booklist
"Spectacular . . . Searingly powerful. Hastings makes important points about the war in the East that have been all too rarely heard." —Andrew Roberts, The Sunday Telegraph
"Extraordinary . . . Anyone who believes that we're all living through a uniquely troubled time should read this . . . book." —Georgie Rose, The Sunday Herald
"This is a book not only for military history buffs but for anyone who wants to understand what happened in half the world during one of the bloodiest periods of the blood-soaked 20th century." —The Spectator
"Highly readable . . . An admirably balanced re-examination of the last phases of a conflict that it is not fashionable to remember." —Dan van der Vat, The Guardian
"Engrossing. . . . Its originality lies in the meticulousness of the author's research and the amazing witnesses he has found." —Murray Sayle, The Evening Standard
"Hastings is . . . a master of the sort of detail that illuminates the human cost. It is the way he leaps so adeptly to and fro between the vast panorama and the tiny snapshot pictures that makes him such a readable historian." —Mail on Sunday
In Retribution, Hastings does not leave out the big actors, but what is new and original are the personal stories he has extracted from oral histories and his own interviews with veterans of the American, Japanese, Russian, Australian and even Chinese armies. A fine writer, Hastings conveys many heartrending testimonies.
The Washington Post
…[a] masterly account of the climax of the conflict against Japan…Hastings is a military historian in the grand tradition, belonging on the shelf alongside John Keegan, Alistair Horne and Rick Atkinson. He is equally adept at analyzing the broad sweep of strategy and creating thrilling set pieces that put the reader in the cockpit of a fighter plane or the conning tower of a submarine. But he is best on the human cost of war.
The New York Times
Most of the work by acclaimed British historian and former newspaper editor Hastings has focused on World War II in Europe (e.g., Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy), but here he tackles the Pacific theater. Using American, Soviet, Chinese, Japanese, and Australian sources, he offers a succinct and well-written account of the final stage of the war against Japan. Hastings glosses over some of the more familiar parts of the conflict, e.g., Iwo Jima, Leyte Gulf, and Okinawa, relying only on secondary sources. But he makes up for it with a thorough assessment of the Soviet campaign in Manchuria and the "lagging" Australian role in the Pacific. Some readers will question his modifying Japanese accounts to fit them into Western vernacular. Overall, this book works best not as a standalone but as an excellent addition to the existing historiography of the Pacific War. It should be added to academic and public libraries as both the serious scholar and casual World War II history enthusiast will be interested. [See Prepub Alert, LJ11/1/07.]
Antonio Thompson Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
A fine-grained study of the last year of World War II in the Pacific. Bracketing Armageddon, his 2004 study of the closing moments of the war in Europe, British journalist and editor Hastings (Warriors: Portraits from the Battlefield, 2006, etc.) recounts the desperate struggle to wrest the last of its overseas holdings from Japan's rule and force the home islands to surrender. He draws on the living memories of participants on all sides, but cautions that this is a problematic strategy for a couple reasons: Anyone now alive who fought in the war is very old and likely possesses faulty memory, and any such person was likely in a junior position, far from the decision-making centers of power. Written testimonies from those higher up, he warns, is therefore essential, especially since contemporary historians have their own ideas of what was what. In Japan today, he observes, scarcely anyone knows who Douglas MacArthur was. Germany was the greater threat to world peace, Hastings writes, but Japan "was the focus of greater American animus," for reasons both racist and military. Japan, of course, behaved poorly-and with designs that, Hastings notes, had lasting implications, assuring, for instance, that Indochina could never again be ruled by a colonial power. After ranging across the theater, calling at various small islands and at much larger operations such as the Battle of Leyte-which launched the Philippines campaign, and where American forces battled whole Japanese armies rather than the comparatively smaller units they were used to-Hastings paints a comprehensive portrait of bloodletting and chaos. He turns up many hitherto unsung heroes, such as the rough-and-ready British generalWilliam Slim, and he reports on lesser-known episodes, such as Joseph Stilwell's bitter feud with Chiang Kai-shek over the conduct of the war in China. He also looks at the calculus of battle-one American naval planner, for instance, argued "that since the war cost his country $200 million a day, building ships saved money by hastening victory."A solid complement to existing histories of the Pacific theater. First printing of 100,000. Agent: Michael Sissons/PFD
With prose that's a joy to read, the redoubtable and much-published Hastings turns his pen to what Churchill remains most famous for. Despite other works examining this subject, libraries and readers of many persuasions will want this massive and detailed examination of the prime minister and his personal war.