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185 of 199 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive view of the collapse of Japan, 4 Oct 2007
This review is from: Nemesis: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45 (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. The actual nuclear attacks are briefly covered - I suspect that Hastings realised that they are just too well known - but the political build up, in Washington, Tokyo and Moscow, is covered is some detail.

For those used to Hastings's earlier work dealing with the end of WW2 in Europe - Armageddon and Overlord - will be familiar with his technique of mixing personal memories and reflections with the broader picture - both military and political. In Nemesis he succeeds again admirably and this book thoroughly deserves five stars.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Dec 2009 15:19:04 GMT
The beginning of Soviet war operations against Japan had been agreed by the Allies to begin three months after the capitulation of Nazi Germany.
The USSR did just that, a recurring nightmare of Japan who had been defeated by marshall Jukov, ,and kept many troops in Manchuria.
The Soviet aims of war may not have been entirely pure but their rapid success encouraged the USA to drop atom bombs before a complete Russian success.
It would be nice to see people such as Max Hastings and Anthony Beevor leave their old feuds "in the cloakroom", as we say in France.
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