Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze Hardcover – 13 Jun 2013
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"'Shanghai 1937' has all the elements of a fabulous historical novel... Comparisons by online reviewers to Antony Beevor, author of 'Stalingrad' and 'Berlin,' are justly deserved... One of the really remarkable features of 'Shanghai 1937' is the huge collection of high-quality photographs, all of them in-period and directly relevant to the action, in three 16-page inserts." --Taiwan Today
"Mr Harmsen is an excellent writer. The book rattles along like a modern techno-thriller and moves gracefully between descriptions of the tactical battlefield and the impact on the company, platoon or individual to the strategic machinations of the top brass and the movement of armies and divisions. Whilst the book piqued my interest in the pre Second World War Sino-Japanese conflict it stands very successfully as an excellent piece of military writing in its own right. One only has to be interested in warfare to appreciate this book." --The Wargamer
"Enhances the bare facts with material gleaned from multiple diaries, reports, newspaper and magazine articles, books, and other accounts from combatants and civilians of all nationalities. In addition to on-the-spot impressions from a surprising number of Chinese and Japanese foot soldiers, the book also features eyewitness reports from and about foreigners living and working in the cosmopolitan city at the time... Engaging account of a little-known battle... Practically nothing else in English tackles this topic at this level." --Stone and Stone
"Maybe more attention should have been paid by the West to what happened in Shanghai in 1937." --Britain at War
About the Author
Peter Harmsen, has been a foreign correspondent in East Asia for two decades. His reports have appeared in the Financial Times and the Far Eastern Economic Review. He has also worked for Bloomberg, the Economist Intelligence Unit and French news agency AFP. His previous book, Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze, has been translated into Romanian and Chinese.
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Top Customer Reviews
Rather than only sending troops to Manchuria, where the Japanese were busily expanding their Manchukuo puppet state, and thereby allowing Japan to continue casting events there as an isolated incident, China's nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek decided to open a 'second front', in Shanghai. After years of prevaricating and concessions (Japan had annexed Manchuria in 1931), basically because China wasn't really ready for war, the Marco Polo bridge incident finally precipitated a decision to respond unequivocally to Japan's aggressive encroachments. But by drawing Japan into conflict in a new and more southerly theatre, rather than simply responding locally, China was able to surprise and unbalance their enemy at the same time as revealing Japanese belligerence and imperial ambitions for what they were. But the stakes were high, as this meant risking the loss of a major city in the heartland of the country, not far from the capital, Nanjing.Read more ›
Since the fall of the Soviet Union there has been much literature to expand on the eastern front in Europe as our attention here in the West has understandably been on the exploits of the Western powers against Germany and to a lesser extent Japan and Italy. But until now the conflict of Japan and China has been a dark black hole outside China and even there it has just recently emerged as a serious study since the efforts of Chiang Kai-Shek's Nationalists was downplayed after the communist victory at the end of 1949.
This book goes a long way. It tells of the start of the official war between the Nationalist and Japan. Ironically assisted by German advisors Chiang Kai-Shek decided to bring Japan to war on his terms, not in north China, still controled by warlords and hardly under unified China but to the international city of Shanghai. It gives good insight into the difficulties of the Chinese Army and the brutal conflict that followed. As for the battle there is a detailed narrative and good account, much more than in almost any other book you will find. At the same time you are given an account of the bigger picture and the aftermath.
The book includes good maps and interesting photos.
This is an excellent start into the most neglected part of World War 2 and hopefully a begining of a new area.
However, this book just did not hold my interest. I found almost too much detail, day to day events, but little interpretation. I also had problems with the style, just didn't work for me.
There are some annoying parts too... often Mister Hamsen forgot to put ranks before the name of military people. This detracts from the narrative. Much more annoying is his tendency to slip in the anecdotal in several instance and mixing history with stories that does not add to the narrative and at times looks spurious (Chiang ordering female nurses out from the hospitals? Well the NRA has women nurses anyway and there were female police officers in China at the time anyway... yes Mister Hamsen points out that the nurses were girls from the city entertainment industry, but if they were dressed as nurses and working as nurses probably they had been hired as that... I doubt Chiang would been able to order them out...). too often he excuses NRA bad behavior on ground of expediency while highlighting similar cases on the other side, certainly the account seems a bit biased.
Yet the two real problems are a certain fascination with the German advisors and their supposed superior knowledge of tactics (but sadly Mister Hamsen is not up to date to late WW1 infantry tactics). Stoss tactics were neither that revolutionary nor that effective without proper firepower (and they also emphasized mobile firepower). And his constant Monday quarterbacking on command decision. Yes the NRA could have cut through the international settlement, but that would have olnyl added the international troops to the battle on the Japanese side.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Like their Unit 731 in Manchuria, and bombing of civilians in 1932, in the 1937 Battle of Shanghai the Japanese gave the world a chilling foretaste of, and even beginning to, the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Ms. Margaret Blair, author, Gudao, Lone Islet, The War Years in Shanghai and Shanghai Scarlet
Peter is the first western writer to touch on this subject for a very very long time. Bravo! As a Chinese this is not a new battle, something we learn from school. Read morePublished 7 months ago by B. Lai
A dress-rehearsal for WW2
Given the contemporary rise of China, the focus has rightly fallen on China's past, and how the country came to be where it is today. Read more
A gripping read and detailed informative book for the average person.Published 17 months ago by Ho Yin Lee
The Second Sino-Japanese War is almost unknown to the English speaking world but Peter Harmsen's excellent book covers the subject brilliantly. Read morePublished on 26 Jan. 2014 by Tammo Korsai
I knew nothing really about the "China Incident" other than it happened, so when i saw Peter Harmsen's book on the battle of Shanghai, i was intrigued, the book is well... Read morePublished on 25 Jan. 2014 by MORE-MAJORUM