I read the other reviewers...I usually do that with historical books because of the importance of those who may have a different perspective than someone like me who is coming into this particular arena of history with no background. I have read a lot about the Nuremberg Trials, much about German aggression, and very little about Japan. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, with my grandfather a commander in the Navy, I grew up with a sense of pride, and also wanting to know more about the time in which he served, and shortly after when my father also served (Korea). But I also got snippets of information from other readings concerning the very unfair treatment of the Japanese in the U.S. when their homes were raided and they were placed in concentration camps. So of course, I was curious when I came across this small book.
For historians and social study teachers, this might be a good book to read for background. Some people write and make history come alive again. Others write history, and most people would put this book back down because it is so dry, and is written with an evident bias that is not always backed up with support. I guess I would have to read the actual transcripts of the trial because this particular one apparently did not gain the attention of the world. Those who came in close contact with Japanese atrocities such as China, Australia, and most importantly, the Phillipines definitely had a different viewpoint then most of the Americans involved in the Trials. MacArthur and the main judge, Keenan, evidently controlled quite a bit of the trials...who came to trial, who did not, who was punished, what the punishments were. I had a problem in that mentions were made of the atrocities, but unlike the very well-known Final Solution, Japanese atrocities were not as much fodder for the newspapers. Heaven only knows why.
All countries have time periods in their histories for which they should feel shame, including the U.S. Wisdom is when those countries recognize and address those problems, and many of the Japanese did incredible things such as one sobbing man turning in his own son for almost certain capital punishment for killing an entire Burmese town. If only more of us would show the courage that older man did in doing this, our world would be a better place.
I am going to read more on this area/trials, because Maga whetted my appetite, but didn't satisfy it. Whether our side was fair in their judgements, whether the Emperor should have paid a higher price (I think MacARthur handled this one right)...is probably up to those who read these books to make that judgement. It is a part of our world history, and Japan has certainly come a long way from their militarism of that time. Nationalism and militarism is scary in any form, no matter which country is involved. We've seen way too many nationalistic-caused atrocities in AFrica, Serbia, Germany, etc. I can't help think but of some words that said "Judge not, lest ye be judge..."
University of Pittsburgh