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on 21 March 2017
Like other reviewers, I thought this book long overdue. It is immensely well researched, and clearly explains the background and the difficulties faced by both sides. It cleverly combines narrative history with eye witness accounts, to give as clear an account of often confused, brutal fighting,as is possible. Matters of strategy and higher command are given good coverage. My only criticism is the lack of any accounts of the actual combat - especially in the early stages of the battle, when the Chinese were held up by dogged Japanese resistance, allowing the battle to widen, and become prolonged in the favour of the Japanese. A very good, long overdue introduction to an important battle at what many people now see as the beginning of the Second World War.
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on 15 June 2016
I am sure it helps I was fortunate enough to spend a month in Shanghai in the last few years on two occasions, so a lot I could visualise. The description of the atrocities of the Japanese at that time was almost too much to cope with, so I didn't know if I would get to the end of the book, pleased I did. It also helped I had previously read Empire of the Sun based on the English author's childhood experiences. Until my travels I had known very little about China but increased reading including the dreadful experiences during the time of Mao, as always, it is the man in the street who suffers most. By comparison, China must now seem very peaceful & I wish I could afford to go back again as I greatly enjoyed the experience.
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on 16 January 2016
Very well written and gives a comprehansive account of events.
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on 10 July 2015
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on 20 May 2017
An excellent, well-researched book.
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on 1 April 2015
A gripping read and detailed informative book for the average person.
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VINE VOICEon 14 August 2013
Finally there is a good book on World War 2 in China.

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.
9 people found this helpful
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on 6 August 2014
Shanghai 1937 is an interesting account of an important yet forgotten battle. The book is an easy read and is well written. Military and political narrative are well interwoven. You got a fair idea of where, why, and how the battle developed. It is very important book in this aspect.

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. He seems to ignore the shanghai garrison and assume that they would have let Chinese troops in the international settlement freely. A discussion of tactics and divisional organization would have certainly helped.

Said that I am still thinking that this book is a necessary addition to the bookshelf of any military historian interested in the second Sino-Japanese war.
5 people found this helpful
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on 26 January 2014
The Second Sino-Japanese War is almost unknown to the English speaking world but Peter Harmsen's excellent book covers the subject brilliantly. The battle for Shanghai, one of the first major urban conflicts in the 20th century and a precursor to what would come to be on the Eastern Front.

It walks you through the battles and events using accounts from all involved parties to paint a vivid picture of the war for civillians and soldiers alike, complimented with several pages of photographs thanks to the heavy presence of war correspondents from many countries, providing great, clear images of the unique German-trained infantry divisons of the Chinese army and the Japanese invaders.

I was enthralled from start to finish and hope the author considers wiritng more books on major battles in a conflict tha ultimately merged into the Second World War where millions fought and died yet there is so little spoken about it.
One person found this helpful
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on 25 January 2014
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 written, it has a nice flow as the author takes you around Cosmopolitan Shanghai in the 1930s and fills you in with past "disturbances" between the Japanese and Chinese, Peter gives an easy readable account of some of the major players before taking us on a journey through the narrow destroyed streets with the skirmishes, battles and bombings etc, the book is completed with some superb photos..all in all its a fantastic read!!
One person found this helpful
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