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Rising Sun (Military Classics) Paperback – 30 Jul 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Paperback, 30 Jul 2005
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Product details

  • Paperback: 956 pages
  • Publisher: Leo Cooper Ltd; Reprint edition (30 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844153045
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844153046
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.3 x 6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,747,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"'Unbelievably rich... Readable and exciting' Newsweek 'The most readable, yet informative account of the Pacific War' Chicago Sunday Times"

From the Inside Flap

This Pulitzer Prize-winning history of World War II chronicles the dramatic rise and fall of the Japanese empire, from the invasion of Manchuria and China to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Told from the Japanese perspective, "The Rising Sun is, in the author's words, "a factual saga of people caught up in the flood of the most overwhelming war of mankind, told as it happened--muddled, ennobling, disgraceful, frustrating, full of paradox."
In weaving together the historical facts and human drama leading up to and culminating in the war in the Pacific, Toland crafts a riveting and unbiased narrative history. In his Foreword, Toland says that if we are to draw any conclusion from "The Rising Sun, it is "that there are no simple lessons in history, that it is human nature that repeats itself, not history." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Dec. 2007
Format: Paperback
I'm a third of the way through this, and it's already clear that this is one of those historical works that manages to tell its epic story with an electrifying intensity and vividness. I cannot put this book down. It paints a vast panorama out of an intricate web of tiny details, giving the reader the illusion of a God's eye view, that simultaneously embraces all levels of scale, from the global down to the individual. The depth of research is hugely impressive. At times you are inclined to suspect that Toland must know the name and background of everyone that was in the Pacific theatre at the time. Strategic, political, economic, and convincingly, cultural aspects, are all woven together in a format that is almost cinematic. Diplomacy, espionage, intrigues and major military encounters, by land, air and sea, all give the narrative a terrific pace.

As history, I think it needs to be taken rather cautiously as it is clearly pro-Japanese. It does however also try to convey the mindset of the ordinary Japanese and their justifications for their part in these events. It depicts the very curious relationship between the Emperor and his household and the cabal of militant warlords who governed on his apparent behalf. Issues of taboo, honour and obligation, having no parallel in Western political structures led to a complex situation whereby the militarist elite could claim to be operating in the service of the Emperor's divine will and with his blessing. Meanwhile the same conventions rendered the Emperor and the moderates around him impotent to materially influence the course of affairs.
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Format: Paperback
This is a mammoth undertaking of a book, but even then can hardly scratch the surface of a very complicated subject. It's main value lies in explaining the decisions and actions that led up to Japanese involvement in WW2, but there is the feeling that a lot has been left out. Once Pearl Harbor is attacked then the book becomes less about the rise and fall of Japan and more about how Japan lost the war to the USA. If it doesn't involve the US then it's not worth more than a couple of lines; the conquest of Malaya, Burma and the Dutch East Indies? Pfft, nothing to see here, move along. Yet the loss of the Phillipines is there in every last detail. The battle for Guadalcanal goes on for ever too.
No, I'm afraid that this book isn't even pro-Japanese as some reviewers have said. Yes, it's ten years of Japanese history with a lot of the nasty bits left out, hardly a mention of the massacres of POWs and civilians for example, but this book is really about how the Japanese were inferior to the might of the Americans. The point of the book seems to be to tell them that they should have stayed at home.
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Rising Sun by John Toland is a very good account of the Pacific War (from the mid 1930s onwards) told mainly from the Japanese viewpoint. It is increadibly in-depth but at the same time immensely readable. If it does have any major flaws it is that it is perhaps too symapathetic towards the Japanese (for example it is the only book on this subject I have ever read that suggests the Japanese were at least partly motivated to fight to emancipate their fellow Asians) and although it states it is about the rise and fall of the Japanese Empire in World War II it should really just claim to be about the Pacific War with the USA because the conflicts in China and Burma/India are only briefly mentioned. All in all a very good book and well worth the time it takes to read.
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Many books on the war in the Pacific are written from an Allied perspective, so John Toland's book is interesting because it gives more insight into the Japanese perspective.I gather that his wife was Japanese so this, presumably, made access to Japanese records easier. There is a detailed description of the lead up to war and although the various politicians involved, and their machinations, rather overwhelmed me, it was clear that war wasn't inevitable, with conflicting views within the Japanese hierarchy. It is obvious too, that the American oil embargo of Japan, arising from Japanese aggression, put the Japanese in the position where they felt that they must fight or else accept the American pressure for the Japanese to give up their gains in China etc. The Japanese military seemed incapable of imagining the wrongness of their invasion of China, Manchuria etc, leave alone the atrocities committed and they thought that withdrawal was totally unacceptable because of the blood and money spent on their aggression. Did the Americans back the Japanese into a corner without the possibility of an acceptable exit?
Roosevelt was anxious to avoid any actions that would be seen as aggressive and that might precipitate war but, unfortunately, American commanders don't seem to have been briefed explicitly to prepare adequately for the eventuality of war should the diplomacy fail.
The Japanese cultural view of the shame of capture and their resulting fanatical defence is well portrayed. Japanese atrocities are not dwelt upon but nor are they ignored.
As defeat stared the Japanese in the face, the peace party, and its feelers to the Allies, was rather lame, even convincing themselves that the Soviet Union would make an honest broker.
All in all, a good history showing more of the "other side of the hill" than many Pacific War histories and how cultural differences had such an influential role..
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