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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Was this the beginning of WWII?, 9 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze (Hardcover)
Its popularly believed that WWII began in September 1939 when Germany invaded Poland but the author believes the beginning was actually in August 1937 when the Chinese Army was forced to attack the Japanese who were escalating their buildup on the mainland to free itself from the ever increasing menace of foreign domination. After you read this intriguing book you may agree with the author.
Mr Harmsen, a foreign correspondent in China and the Far East for twenty years, has done a splendid job in recreating the events leading up to as well as the key events of this little known battle.

This overview presents not only the strategic but also the tactical and human interest aspects of this nearly three month campaign that pitted the larger Chinese force against a well defended and motivated enemy with superior air and artillery support along with technological advantages. The Japanese also had a more coherent battle plan that along with the other advantages just mentioned would inflict huge losses on Chiang Kai-shek's best divisions and force them to give up on trying to retake this key city though partisan actions would continue, giving the Japanese little rest while they controlled the city.
This battle story is infused and enhanced with many first hand accounts of leading officers, front line soldiers and civilians who were caught up between the warring sides. These individual accounts add to the appeal and truly enhance the overall readability of the story.

I would have preferred greater tactical details on the order of a David Glantz presentation, yet I was still impressed with this book. The author has done a nice job of presenting the prewar background, main events of the three month urban struggle, many first hand accounts, post battle life in the city and the long term impact this battle had on the participants for the rest of the war and beyond.
In addition to battle events, the author also presents a realistic description and appraisal of the flaws and virtues of command relationships and their decisions and the impact those decisions had on and off the battlefield. The combine package gives the reader a good overall understanding of the book.

This book also has a few good maps, an Order of Battle, a decent Notes Section and a helpful Bibliography if you want to extend your research.

If you have an interest in the Far East and how the antagonism between China and Japan grew into a major confrontation, this book will go a long way to inform and is recommended.
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