Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945 Hardcover – 10 Sep 2013
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"Rana Mitter s brilliant new book, Forgotten Ally: China s War with Japan, 1937-1945, makes an important and moving contribution to the historical record by illuminating the largely forgotten war that took the lives of millions of Chinese, yet ultimately facilitated the rise of modern China." -- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger
"Superb." New York Times Book Review
"Important and compelling . . . Closely examin[es] Beijing's role in the Allied war effort, the heavy and often thankless price paid by the Chinese in their fight against Japan, and the impact of China's wartime traumas on the country's postwar development. . . . Fascinating." Wall Street Journal
"Powerful . . . Mitter excels . . . in placing China's wartime experience in a robustly international framework. . . . General readers curious to learn more about Chinese history should welcome any new book by Mitter." Daily Beast
"Rana Mitter's history of the Sino-Japanese War . . . is a major contribution to the one aspect of the Second World War of which we know far too little, and should know much more if we are to understand the new superpower today. It is a model of clarity and good writing." Antony Beevor, Times (UK)
"Restor[es] a vital part of the wartime narrative to its rightful place. . . . A remarkable story, told with humanity and intelligence; all historians of the second world war will be in Mitter s debt. . . . No one could ask for a better guide." - Richard Overy, Guardian (London)
"The best narrative of that long-ago war, whose effects still linger in China today." - Jonathan Mirsky, The Spectator (London)
"Illuminating and meticulously researched. . . . It is the voice of the Chinese [. . .] that gives the distinctive tone to Mitter s narrative. From the diaries of Chiang Kai-shek to those of national journalists and middle-class Chinese fleeing the conflict, these first-person observations are woven skillfully into his chronicle of the battles and struggles." -The Economist
"Forgotten Ally is a breathtaking chronicle of China s war with Japan from 1937 to 1945, a major theater of World War II whose story most Western readers have never heard in full -- certainly not as Mitter interprets it here. Authoritative and epic, pulsing with life, this is a grand vision of China s transformation through the cataclysm of war in the twentieth century." -- Stephen R. Platt, author of Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom"Gripping...He shows that...the east Asian conflict shaped both the outcomes of the second world war and the development of the postwar world." - The Observer
"An important, timely contribution to shedding light where there is currently much darkness... Mitter s book demonstrates why to this day the Chinese view Japan with such animosity." -- The Financial Times
"Mitter has done an important service both in pulling together the complex narrative threads of this period and in reminding readers of China s vital and largely neglected contribution to the Allied war effort... Mitter s excellent history tells us why we need to remember it." -- The New Statesman
"Rana Mitter has written a masterly account of the war, which blends wide deep scholarship with an accessible narrative...Mitter's great achievement is to have encompassed a multi-faceted story in a readable, coherent and gripping manner" - Jonathan Fenby, The Times"This monumental new work by Oxford University professor Rana Mitter magisterially surveys this conflict, the broader repercussions of which still resonate across East Asia." -- South China Morning Post"For decades, argues Rana Mitter in his superb new book, western readers have known too little about China's suffering....Mitter offers a lucid and moving account of the conflict's staggering military tragedies. But it is also a first-rate political and social history if China's wartime years....Mitter's elegant, rigorous and balanced account is an ideal guide to traumas that continue to cast a long shadow over the region." -- TheTelegraph"This gripping political history not only provides a detailed scholarly account of the Sino-Japanese War but also, in a prologue, offers an admirably succinct introduction to the political history of China in the first half of the twentieth century . . . A story of heroic and determined resistance . . . enlivened by extracts from the writing of Chinese people who endured the war." -- Delia Davin, Observer (UK)"A masterly account . . . Blends wide, deep scholarship with an accessible narrative that includes an admirable focus on [the war s] effects on ordinary people . . . Mitter s great achievement is to have encompassed a multi-faceted story in a readable, coherent, and gripping manner that should rescue this horrific conflict from the neglect it has suffered in the West and explain why history lives on in East Asia." -- Jonathan Fenby, Times (UK)"Mitter s narrative elan, in the manner of David McCullough, creates a complex history that is urgently alive. An important, well-told tale of China at war." -- Kirkus"An important and compelling history of China's World War II experience...Mr. Mitter's book gives China its historical due." -- The Wall Street Journal
"Mitter gathers a generation of research and debate to weave new insights into a sweeping panorama...This is cutting-edge history, and there s scarcely a dull page. Highly recommended." -- Library Journal, starred
This is the best study of China's war with Japan (1937-1945) written in any language. It is comprehensive, thoroughly researched, and objective. For anyone interested in how China helped shape today's world, this is a must-read. Akira Iriye, Charles Warren Professor of History (emeritus), Harvard University
"Forgotten Ally...deserves to be read by anyone interested in China, World War II and the future of China s relations with the rest of the world...Mitter masterfully constructs these interlocking stories of battles, famines, massacres, diplomacy and intrigue...Excellent book." Washington Post
"[Mitter] writes with rare objectivity on subjects that remain controversial today, and his illustrations are both poignant and pertinent...Forgotten Ally is must reading for anyone seeking a full perspective on the Pacific war."-- The Washington Times
"Mitter applies historical empathy to yield fresh insights into the situations of all the actors in the horrific conflict that the Chinese call the War of Resistance Against Japan." -- Foreign Affairs"
From the Inside Flap
The epic, untold story of China s devastating eight-year war of resistance against Japan
For decades, a major piece of World War II history has gone virtually unwritten. The war began in China, two years before Hitler invaded Poland, and China eventually became the fourth great ally, partner to the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain. Yet its drama of invasion, resistance, slaughter, and political intrigue remains little known in the West.
Rana Mitter focuses his gripping narrative on three towering leaders: Chiang Kai-shek, the politically gifted but tragically flawed head of China s Nationalist government; Mao Zedong, the Communists fiery ideological stalwart, seen here at the beginning of his epochal career; and the lesser-known Wang Jingwei, who collaborated with the Japanese to form a puppet state in occupied China. Drawing on Chinese archives that have only been unsealed in the past ten years, he brings to vivid new life such characters as Chiang s American chief of staff, the unforgettable Vinegar Joe Stilwell, and such horrific events as the Rape of Nanking and the bombing of China s wartime capital, Chongqing. Throughout, Forgotten Ally shows how the Chinese people played an essential role in the wider war effort, at great political and personal sacrifice.
Forgotten Ally rewrites the entire history of World War II. Yet it also offers surprising insights into contemporary China. No twentieth-century event was as crucial in shaping China s worldview, and no one can understand China, and its relationship with America today, without this definitive work.
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Mitter explains the purpose of his study in a brief Prologue:
"In the early twenty-first century China has taken a place on the global stage and seeks to convince the world that it is a 'responsible great power'. One way in which it has sought to prove its case is to remind people of a time past, but not long past, when China stood alongside the other progressive powers against fascism: the Second World War. If we wish to understand the role of China in today's global society, we would do well to remind ourselves of the tragic, titanic struggle which that country waged in the 1930s and 1940s not just for its own national dignity and survival, but for the victory of all the Allies, west and east, against some of the darkest forces that history has ever produced."
The book recounts a highly complex history which involves China's struggles to become a republic, the early pre-WW II war with Japan in the 1930's, the China-Japan war during the years before Pearl Harbor, the China-Japan war in the context of WW II after Pearl Harbor, and then the Civil War which resulted in the establishment of the People's Republic of China. Domestic affairs in China during the war years, and the conflict between Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong receive substantial attention as well.
The first part of the book, "The Path to War" offers an overview of the relationship between China and Japan and of China's attempt to establish a Republic beginning in 1911. Both Chiang and Mao come into prominence during this early period. This part of the story culminates in 1931, with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria while the rest of the world took little action.
The second part of the story, "Disaster" covers the early years of the war, which began in 1937. Among other things, it focuses on the loss of Shangai, the atrocities of Nanjing, and Chaing's decision to breach the dikes on the Yellow River to slow Japan's advance into central China. This decision resulted in an astounding loss of civilian life. The book shows the wary attempts of Chiang and Mao to work together, although both leaders markedly distrusted one another. The Chinese nationalists under Chiang, for all their faults, frequently resisted the Japanese heroically and sometimes successfully during this period.
The third section of the book "Resisting Alone" reminded me of Britain's early resistance, as it shows China fighting a war without allies against Japan. During this period, a third prospective government, in addition to the Nationalists and the Communists arose in China which advocated collaboration with Japan in order to reach a peace. The collaborationist leaders were long regarded as traitors. Mitter offers a more nuanced view.
The final part of the book, "The Poisoned Alliance" describes how China's allies tried to marginalize the China-Japan war in favor of the European and Pacific theaters. It focuses on the poisonous relationship between Chiang and American General Joseph Sitwell who was sent to China as Chiang's Chief of Staff following Pearl Harbor. During this time, Chiang and the Nationalists frequently were perceived as a reluctant, corrupt ally which was unwilling to fight. Mitter describes a severe famine in China which took place during the war years in part due to the Nationalist's incompentence and corruption. He also describes the brutal police states that arose in the three rival Chinese governments, under Chiang, Mao, and the collaborationists. Again, Mitter offers a nuanced portrayal of Chiang, discussing both his many weaknesses as a civilian and military leader but also his strengths. He reminds the reader throughout of the resistance the Chinese offered against the Japanese invasion for many years against long odds. Mitter makes a convincing case that the Chinese resistance was integral to the result of the War as it allowed the Allies to concentrate their attention on the remaining theaters.
The Epilogue to the book briefly describes the Civil War following WW II which culminated in Chiang's flight to Taiwan in 1949. The book discusses how the Chinese have been portraying their war history, their internal history, and their relationship with Japan in the years following Mao's ascendancy.
This book has a great deal to teach about subjects that most Americans know only vaguely. I learned a great deal from it and perhaps see some things differently than I did before reading it. Teaching its readers is a worthy accomplishment for any book.
Mitter, an Oxford historian tells the tale fairly and squarely through Chinese eyes. Mitter pulls no punches: Japan was the aggressor and China was the victim. He has no kind words either for the Western powers (UK and USA) who stood by while Japan ravaged the country.
Chang Kai Shek is portrayed as a leader who simply refused to surrender against insurmountable odds in a war he did not want to fight. Chiang made numerous tactical and humanitarian mistakes, but based on this account, Chiang should be lauded as a hero in China for saving the nation.
Believable or not the power that made so long this war, it was not USA but the Soviet Union.
Indeed USA had never loved so much the Chinese Nationalist, because of their corruption and of a civil war that had been lasting for at least 25 years ( it had begun on 1911, immediately after the abdication of the last Chinese emperor ) and that involved not just Comunists against Nationalists but even Chinese warlords against each other.
Instead, in spite of the natural alliance with the Chinese Comunist Party, Soviet Union understood immediately that just the Chinese Nationalists had a regular Army able to oppose , in some way, to the Japanese expansionism that , soon or later, could be menacing the soviet territory. They were right because , just because of the US oil embargo on 1941, Japan decided to follow the "Southern Strategy" (the offensive against the Dutch Indies and so the USA) ,instead of the "Northern Strategy" (the attack against Soviet Union, long favoured by the Japanese Army). So the Soviet Union decided to send, planes, weapons, instructors , in huge quantities and they did it until the beginning of the operation "Barbarossa".
The book begins with the famous Marco Polo's Bridge incident on 1937 and gives you not just a mere description of the military operations of this war, but even a complete description of the Chinese political life , with all the betrayals that happened .
The book describes you with many particulars even that awful relationship between Chiang Kai Shek and the disastrous american general Joseph Stilwell.
The book is a must because it tells you a story that you will not find so easily and because it covers all the aspects of a war that has brought Death to as much people as WWII
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