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Horror In The East Hardcover – 11 Oct 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books; 1st Edition edition (11 Oct. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563534265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563534266
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 2.3 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 266,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

You wouldn't necessarily want to live inside the head of Laurence Rees, author of Horror in the East, but you could well argue that its should be compulsory for everyone to spend at least a few hours in his company. Beginning with the brutality of the conflict between Japan and China in the 1930s and ending with the nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, Horror in the East is a compelling account of the atrocities of war and, as with his sister volume The Nazis: A Warning from History, Rees has searched long and hard to find vivid and, at times mind-numbing, eyewitness accounts of man's inhumanity to man--not least from the recruits who were forced to kill restrained Chinese prisoners in bayonet practice.

For many popular historians, incidents such as the Rape of Nanking are simply labelled evil, thereby relieving them of the responsibility of thinking about what happened and trying to understand what motivates people to behave in such a way. Rees is too intelligent and fair-minded an historian for this; instead he explores how the Japanese army changed from a culture where prisoners of war were treated with civility and respect during the First World War to one where cruelty and barbarism ruled. Rees lays the blame squarely on the conformity demanded by the Emperor Hirohito and stresses that the Japanese army were often as brutal to their own as they were to their enemies. He also makes the point that revisionists tend to airbrush history to suit their own ends. Far more people died in the firebombing of Tokyo than died in either of the nuclear attacks, but the stain of Tokyo has long since been submerged under the more emotive mushroom clouds.

At the time Rees wrote Horror in the East, these attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were among the most powerful images of war in the world's history; already they have been superseded by the footage of the September 11, 2001 strikes on the World Trade Center in New York City. At times like these, when the need for objectivity and fair mindedness is at a premium, historians, such as Rees, are like gold dust. --John Crace

Book Description

Laurence Rees' cutting insight into the reasons behind Japanese brutality in the Pacific during WW2. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Format: 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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: 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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Format: 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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