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Detailed, but perhaps too focussed on the chinese perspective
on 27 July 2013
I'm certainly no expert on this war, so I was interested to find out more. These are the events that played a major part in the eventual bombing of Hiroshima. It's also interesting how the events are put in the perspective of previous events in China, and rise of Communism afterwards. The scale of the losses that China suffered are highlighted, although a lot of attention is on the leaders (particularly Chinese leaders) and their thoughts. hopes and actions in the war. It clarifies how China was largely left to it for some time, both before Germany started their campaigns in Europe, and how long they had to deal with an invading force before nuclear weaponry suddenly ended things.
In this it is interesting, portraying something of life for rural and urban Chinese as well as the leaders of the various factions.
My main issue is that there is little on the Japanese leaders motivations for war, their thinking during the war, the scale of their losses, their aspirations for a united (if dominated by Japan) Asia, etc. The Japanese are presented as an arrogant, imperialist invasionary force, and there is little effort to show their side of the story. This may be expected, both because they were the aggressor and because they lost the war - the histories are written primarily by the winning side, as their description of Communist elimination of Nationalist war-time efforts showed, and more empathy is given to the oppressed than the oppressors.
However, when there has been attention recently on the Rape of Nanjing, portraying the Japanese perspective better would have been interesting. Nevertheless, it is an interesting book that draws attention on a part of WW2 which is generally only minimally discussed in Western coverage, and goes a long way to explaining China's perspective on where they should be on the world stage.