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Nemesis: The Battle for Japan, 1944--45 Paperback – 1 Oct 2008

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Nemesis: The Battle for Japan, 1944--45 + Armageddon: The Battle for Germany 1944-45 + All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945
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Product details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (1 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007219814
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007219810
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 4.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sir Max Hastings is the author of twenty-five books, many of them about war. He was educated at Charterhouse and University College, Oxford, which he quit after a year to become a journalist. Thereafter he reported for newspapers and BBC TV from sixty-four countries and eleven conflicts, notably the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Vietnam and the 1982 Battle for the Falklands. Between 1986 and 2002 he was editor-in-chief of The Daily Telegraph, then editor of the Evening Standard. He has won many prizes both for journalism and for his books, most recently the 2012 Chicago Pritzker Library's $100,000 literary award for his contribution to military history, and the RUSI's Westminster Medal for his international best-seller 'All Hell Let Loose'.

Product Description


‘A monumental achievement…compassionate but unsparing in its judgements.’ Sunday Times

‘An outstandingly gripping and authoritative account of the battle for Japan, and a monument to human bravery and savagery.’ Daily Telegraph

‘Absolutely excellent.’ John Simpson, Observer

‘Magisterial…it is truly cathartic to reach the end of the Second World War in Hastings’s company.’ The Times

‘Brilliantly though Hastings lays out the strategic context, his real talent lies in his account of the “terrible human experience” that it involved…This is a book for anyone who wants to understand what happened in half the world during one of the bloodiest periods of the blood-soaked 20th century.’ Spectator

‘Spectacular…Hastings makes important points about the war in the East that have been all too rarely heard…excellent…compelling…searingly powerful.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘As Hastings brilliantly describes, conditions for fighting men on both sides were appalling…the fire-bombing of Tokyo and the decision to drop the atomic bombs were influenced by the urge to 'get this business over with', but the argument, as Hastings explains so well with his usual exemplary judgement, is far more complex.’ Financial Times

From the Inside Flap

In 1944-45, the war against Japan embraced the most remarkable cast of statesmen and commanders the world has ever seen: Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin; Nimitz, MacArthur, Mountbatten, Slim, LeMay; Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong. The drama which ended in Japan's utter defeat was acted out across the vast stage of Asia. Battles by land, sea and air extended over millions of square miles: Imphal and Kohima, Leyte Gulf and Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the B-29 fire-bombing offensive against Japan's cities, the great Soviet assault on Manchuria.

Max Hastings has written Nemesis as a counterpart to Armageddon, his bestselling saga of the 1944-45 struggle for Germany. Once again, he matches the story of command decisions, rivalries and follies with the experiences of British, American, Russian, Chinese and Japanese soldiers, sailors and airmen, fighting some of the bloodiest campaigns of the war amid heat, disease, privation and against a merciless enemy. He has interviewed extensively in Asia to tell the story of China's war, which cost at least fifteen million lives yet is almost unknown in the West. Modern China's bitterness towards Japan is rooted in the horrors which Hirohito's armies inflicted on the Chinese people between 1931 and 1945.

With the aid of scores of eyewitness accounts, Hastings portrays the Russian onslaught of August 1945, in which Stalin launched 1.5 million men against the Japanese, to gain the territorial booty promised to him at Yalta. The book describes Slim's brilliant 1945 campaign in Burma, which Churchill never wanted to fight. The British and Indian armies achieved a sunset victory for the Empire - but one their commanders knew could contribute nothing to Japan's defeat.

Australia's soldiers earned much more glory in the early war years - yet almost vanished from the battlefield in 1944-45, because of their country's bitter internal dissensions, and MacArthur's refusal to concede them a real role in America's showdown with Japan. Hastings analyses the decision-making which precipitated the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and concludes that the dropping of the atomic bomb saved many lives.

Here are word-portraits of the ordeals of American sailors in the great sea battles which destroyed the Japanese Imperial Navy, alongside tales of communist Chinese guerrillas, Japanese fighter pilots, British soldiers sweating in the jungles of Burma, Tokyo families facing incineration by firestorm. Nemesis weaves together in brilliant fashion the complex strands of an epic which stretched across a continent and many nations, in three dimensions, embracing some of the most terrible human experiences of the twentieth century. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

187 of 201 people found the following review helpful By Pyers Symon on 4 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Most accounts of the fall of Japan follow, understandably, the progress of the US across the Pacific, culminating in the invasions of the Philippines, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and finally the cataclysmic events of August 1945. Hastings paints a much broader picture, following events in Burma, where the British Empire forces were engaged in a stunningly successful but ultimately pointless, in terms of the final destruction of Japan, campaign, to Borneo where the Australians where relegated to fighting in a backwater, losing much of their stature gained in the Western Desert 3 years before, and being hampered by in-fighting. Macarthur's arrogance - megalomania even - in the Philippines is described with the savage battle for Manila. The necessity for the battle for Iwo is seriously questioned with the normal answer "it saved allied aircrews" being doubted. Some of what he describes is well-known - the fire bombing of Japan's cities, the battle for Okinawa are covered well but less-known aspects are handled well: the China war (which had been going on for far longer that WW2), the Soviet invasion of Manchuria (Stalin's race to grab land before the war ended - the battles there continued for some days after the "official" surrender) and the choking of Japan's logistical supplies by the relatively small (compared with the U-Boats a couple of years earlier) US submarine force. Hastings makes the point that the sinking of Japan's merchant navy dwindled back in late '44 and early 45 for the very simple reason: there was pretty well nothing more to sink. He criticises the USAAF (a la Bomber Command) for not diverting more resources into the mining of the Inland Sea. When this did happen, the results almost crippled Japan's inter-island traffic.Read more ›
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Jon Latimer on 26 Nov. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Max Hastings describes how and why Japan was finally brought low in 1945 - the politics and the military grand strategy - and what it was like for the ordinary people swept up by these events. And in his descriptions of action on the ground in China, Burma, the Philippines and across the Pacific, he succeeds in conveying the horror of total warfare by allowing participants to speak for themselves. The book does not, however, provide a detailed operational analysis of the campaigns involved, and the absence of a bibliography which is dismissed as an author's `peacock display', is therefore a disappointment. A good bibliography is a resource and the literature of this subject is little better known than its detail, so the absence of one, or at least of a bibliographic essay, is a pity - hence only 4 stars. This is all the more apparent given Hastings's clear exposition of Japanese as well as American strategic imperatives; he shows why this war degenerated into a slugfest.

There are excellent pen pictures of leading characters, and the failings of senior commanders are rigorously examined: General Douglas MacArthur, for example, was a paranoid megalomaniac obsessed with his personal mission to liberate the Philippines, and ignored any intelligence that didn't suit him. In describing systematic Japanese brutality towards both Allied prisoners and fellow Asians, Hastings is also careful to shade the coin, showing that not all Japanese were sadists. But if today some Japanese suggest such inhumanity was no worse than Allied bombing, he notes that having started the war, they `waged it with such savagery towards the innocent and impotent that it is easy to understand the rage which filled Allied hearts in 1945'.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By P. H. Cartwright VINE VOICE on 12 Jan. 2008
Format: Hardcover
There can be few, even knowledgeable, students of the Second World War who will not learn much from this really impressive book. Max Hastings has already contributed some masterly WW2 histories but this must be his finest. It is one of the best histories of the War that I have ever read.

What impresses most is the scope and breadth of this book. All the major campaigns are covered and their relative importance made clear. The British campaign in Burma was never much more than a side-show, no matter how that fact must pain the dogged combatants under Bill Slim who drove the Japanese out. The relatively little known but hugely successful American submarine war against Japan's shipping is given its proper due.

None of the combatants fought a very clean war (if there can be such a thing). The Americans slaughtered many Japanese civilians and prisoners and their campaign seems to have been fuelled by a hatred of Japanese that they did not feel towards the Germans. However, upon reading of the many and hideous atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese - many denied or overlooked by Japan even today - the hatred of them by their opponents seems all too understandable. The last-minute declaration of war against Japan by Stalin, that cynical opportunist, unleashed the Red Army upon Manchuria, in the full plunder and rape mode that made them dreaded for decades to come.

Even today the dropping of atomic bombs by the United States upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki remains perhaps the most controversial act of the War and some think the greatest atrocity. Hastings gives much of the detail of the attacks themselves and the thinking behind them.
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