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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important Book
Laurence Rees has produced a number of books (as well as accompanying documentaries) covering the atrocities and brutalities of the Second World War. Horror in the East is the last in a trilogy of books (starting with 'The Nazis: A Warning from History) which covers the war crimes of the Axis Powers between 1931 and 1945.

I have yet to read Laurence Rees other...
Published on 19 Jan 2009 by F. Aetius

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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars it's ok
It's ok but plays down the British involvement in ww2 to the point of rewriting history apparently the USA was the most powerful country in the world at the start of ww2 not the British empire
Published 3 months ago by tim


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important Book, 19 Jan 2009
This review is from: Horror In The East (Hardcover)
Laurence Rees has produced a number of books (as well as accompanying documentaries) covering the atrocities and brutalities of the Second World War. Horror in the East is the last in a trilogy of books (starting with 'The Nazis: A Warning from History) which covers the war crimes of the Axis Powers between 1931 and 1945.

I have yet to read Laurence Rees other books, so this works well as a stand alone. While Rees's other works cover the well known war crimes of the European fascists; in this book he turns his eye to the relativily little known acts of mass murder by the Imperial Japanese Army.
The Holocaust, and names such as Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen are rightfully well known to almost everyone, but if you were to mention the Rape of Nanking or Unit 731 to most Europeans, they would probably stare at you blankly.
As such, this book is an important work that brings to light the atrocities of the Japanese Army - atrocities every bit as disgracefully cruel as those committed by the Nazis.

This book is by no means a scholarly academic work. Instead it's meant to appeal to the layperson, and as a result it's written simply, (but eruditely and with a lot of compassion) and is rather short at 155 pages.
The book is divided into five chapters that cover the rise of Japanese Militarism under Emperor Hirohito in 1931, to the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Along the way, Rees covers such topics as the mass murder and rape committed against Chinese civilians, the Rape of Nanking (the most brutal act of the war), the human experimentation and biological warfare carried out by Unit 731, the cruel treatment of Allied POWs, the forced rape of 'comfort women', and even acts of cannibalism.
The last chapetrs are dedicated to the collapse of the Japanese Empire, and how an increasingly desperate Military Command resorted to suicidal 'Banzai charges' and Kamikaze attacks. Rees also devotes time to looking at the atrocties of the Allied Forces, including the virtually unheard of Fire Bombing of Japanese civilians in Tokyo in 1945, which killed more innocent people than the two Atomic bombs combined.

It would be wrong to think of this book as a catalogue of atrocities (and personal accounts included in this book are stomach turningly brutal and inhuman) but Rees attempts to understand what could drive ordinary Japanese (and sometimes American soldiers) to commit such barbarous acts. The answers make for disturbing reading; and by the end of the book you will hopefully be thinking deeply about your own morality, and whether you could resort to such acts under the same conditions.

From the powerful testomonies of people like Masayo Enomoto who frankly describes how he butchered and raped Chinese civilians, to the harrowing account of Jan Ruff, a Dutch woman forced into prostitution in Japanese Comfort stations, to the words of Kenichiro Oonuki, a would be Kamikaze pilot- this book is full of personal accounts that will stay with you long after you've finished the book.
A powerful and important read. Highly Recommended.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars must read for everyone interested in the Pacific War, 21 Jan 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Horror In The East (Hardcover)
Rees succeeds brilliantly in analysing and explaining why Japanese soldiers behaved as they did from the very beginning when they occupied China and committed war crimes on a scale that rivals those of the Nazis or, more recently for example those committed in Rwanda. He gives the reader a detailed insight into Japanese mentality, the social structure (to some extent still unchanged) and tries to get behind who was really in command in Japan at that time: the Japanese Officers or Hirohito. If you read "The Rape of Nanking" by Iris Chang (which I also recommend), by reading this book, you will know why it could happen. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars River of Blood, 17 Feb 2012
By 
A. Standen (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Horror In The East (Paperback)
I can't begin to explain just what an emotional rollercoaster this book took me on, from the very first page to the last I could not put it down. I admit to having been very naive about the Pacific Theatre of War, I used to merely think it was just the Americans easily beating the Japanese. This book has truly opened my eyes to the full horror both sides faced.

Starting with the build up of the Imperial Japanese army and their turning against the West due to their perceived hypocrisy of western nations then moving into their war against China, believing them to be sub-human. Reading about the Rape of Nanking was one of the hardest things I've ever read, I had little idea just how brutal the Japanese were towards the Chinese.

Then moving on we see the Japanese enter world war 2 on the side of the axis powers after the bombing of pearl harbour. It's the ferocity of how they fought which caught me off guard, being prepared to fight to the death due to their training and being led to believe that Emperor Hirohito was a living god. As a result of this their soldiers followed a path called 'death before surrender', which in turn led to the infamous kamikaze.

The Japanese were searching for one victory which would allow them some bargaining power at the negotiating table. Even though all was seemingly lost their stubborn refusal to surrender led to many more deaths than there ever needed to be. The firebombing of Tokyo in particular I found very distressing to read. And then of course is the use of two Atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Only then did the Japanese finally see sense.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for everyone interested in the Pacific War, 14 Jan 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Horror In The East (Hardcover)
This book has been long overdue and to my knowledge it is the first attempt at really explaining what drove Japanese soldiers to behaviour that, on occasions, made other war crimes look like the acts of "boy scouts". No account of WWII, the Pacific War, or of war crimes committed during WWII is complete without Rees' analysis of what drove soldiers and what made them tick during these times. He also draws some stunning paralles between the behaviour witnessed among German and Russian troops on the European Eastern Front and the Japanese in Asia. Read it!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential read regarding the Japanese War, 21 Mar 2009
By 
T. J. Corrigan "tcorrigan33" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Horror In The East (Hardcover)
This book is a must for anybody interested in Japan or Japans part in the second world war.

Like The Rape of Nanking by Iris chang it delves into what horrible acts the japanese took part it, but unlike Iris Changs book it takes more time to explain why. And to me this was the important factor that allowed this book to stand out so well.
It takes a refreshing non biased look at why the japanese war happened as well as how the Japanese committed the acts that they did. Taking into account all parties involved. The West, China and Japan.

This book is written in a very simplistic manner while at the same time delivering all the needed points in detail. This made it an extreamly good read, allowing the reader to not just read about but feel as though they are standing with the soldiers and people involved in the war.
Due to the ease of reading it also makes this book last a very short time and a quick read, though at the same time is definately a book you will want to read again.

Reading this has pushed me into buy more work by Laurence Rees.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Bad as the Nazis?, 2 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Horror In The East (Paperback)
This is not a long read at 150 pages but it is totally engaging. It's the sort of read you cannot put down; it also has some very informative, if disturbing, photos of that time.
The book gives you the background of the Japanese psyche, their honour in war and tries to explain why the Japanese soldiers acted in such a barbaric way. It covers the notorious Nanking massacre and also the role and fate of Japan in WW11.
Yes the Imperial Army were unbelievably cruel, seemingly obsessed with the rape of women and totally inhuman it has to be said. They killed more people than the Nazis, which may surprise quite a few people? Equally head-scratching is the fact that they were one of our allies in WW1.
I had no idea of the depth of suffering the Japanese army would inflict or stoop to, their mind numbing war crimes, their use of germ warfare, their almost Nazi like beliefs and hatred of their neighbours and their famous kamikaze pilots who gave their lives for their God -like Emperor.
It is very easy to isolate them as the most evil of evil but the Americans knowingly killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians with the various bombs they dropped at the end the war with Japan.
I found the book an excellent if rather unpleasant read but this type of history is essential reading in finding out why Japan joined the Great War and their role in it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendously readable, 30 May 2014
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This review is from: Horror In The East (Paperback)
I think this book was a companion to a BBC series from a while back. I haven't seen the programmes, but the book is very good. It is written in a very engaging manner: the author strikes the right balance by establishing the facts without ghoulishly listing too many figures. It's quite a short book, so it is necessarily an overview of the terrible events in WW2 rather than a definitive encyclopaedia. It would form a solid base for the reader's own further research. I highly recommend it.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Final part of a masterly trilogy, 30 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Horror In The East (Hardcover)
Without hype, and disgracefully neglected by the literary editors of the British press, Laurence Rees has been quietly producing a masterly study of the Second World War in a trilogy of books which accompany his three award-winning television series.
Horror in the East is a fitting culmination to the work begun in The Nazis - a Warning from History and War of the Century. With passion, but without losing the vital objectivity that is his trademark, both as a writer and as a producer, Rees not only tells us what the Japanese did in their wars in the East, but attempts to answer the question why. His conclusion is startling: that the crimes committed by the Japanese, the Nazis and the Russians, were a product of a "situational ethic" - that is, that young men were conditioned by their societies to behave in an inhumane way, and were able to cast aside moral restraint. In other words, they were no 'worse', intrinsically, than you and I.
I would very much like to see Rees develop this thesis and apply it to the allies: terror bombing in Germany and Japan for example - was this also only possible because of similar conditions prevailing in Britain and the US at that time?
As the world drifts into fresh horrors, books such as this one, and writers such as Rees, have never been more important.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb book, 18 Aug 2011
By 
Brian W. Morris "BrianM" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Horror In The East (Paperback)
An excellent, balanced and well written book. Not a long book, and not bursting with intricate details but there are many other research-based books that do that. The strength of Lawrence Rees is his reflection and insight into the thinking of perpetrators of criminal acts during war, even reflecting upon if these abhorrent evils are actually criminal?

Worth reading and investigating, as are all of his other books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an intelligent survey of the attitudes and culture which led the ..., 31 July 2014
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as usual with Lawrence Rees, an intelligent survey of the attitudes and culture which led the Japanese Army to commit some truly horrible crimes. Well written, well researched and thought provoking, particularly the epilogue.
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Horror In The East
Horror In The East by Laurence Rees (Paperback - 7 July 2011)
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