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ImpStarDuece
01-27-2005, 06:20 PM
Has anyone else read this? What do you think of it?


May take on it (and i'm only about 90 pages in) has been really disheartening so far. I'm tossing up wether to finish it or not.

Before I started reading this I had just finished reading a serise of books about the Pacific War from Japans point of view.b John Tollans excellent books 'The Rising Sun' and 'Infamy' as well as Bix's 'Hirohito' and Martin Cadins collaborations with Japanese aviators and aviation engineers; 'Zero' and 'Samurai'.

All of these conveyed to me the Japanese ambition and desperation to move into a position of world power and expand its sphere of economic and millitary dominion, much like the great colonial powers had done in pervious centuries. I felt that they were, by and large, well written, informative and fairly even handed, laying according blame in a though out manner. They dealt criticism to both sides and opened my eyes to the comlexities of the Pacific War.

Schoms book seems the complete opposite. I have found it wholy partisan, shrill and almost vendetta like in its descriptions of the Japanese government, people and leaders (particularly the Imperial family). 'Valiant' amabssador Grew and 'exceptional' Adrimaral Kelly Turner are pitted against the 'weak minded' Hirohito and the 'sadistic' royal family controlled from birth by the military.

Maybe it's my (very) liberal bent coming through but the continually loaded description Schom uses, for both Americans and Japanese, have rubbed me up the wrong way. The JApanese are clearly the 'bad guys' millitaristic, bullying and hell bent on world domination. Similarly the Americans are the bold, benelovelent and reluctant defenders of democracy. Am I seeing a representative book on the war? Are there others that follow a similar vein or have my earliest readings skewed my outlook?

ImpStarDuece
01-27-2005, 06:20 PM
Has anyone else read this? What do you think of it?


May take on it (and i'm only about 90 pages in) has been really disheartening so far. I'm tossing up wether to finish it or not.

Before I started reading this I had just finished reading a serise of books about the Pacific War from Japans point of view.b John Tollans excellent books 'The Rising Sun' and 'Infamy' as well as Bix's 'Hirohito' and Martin Cadins collaborations with Japanese aviators and aviation engineers; 'Zero' and 'Samurai'.

All of these conveyed to me the Japanese ambition and desperation to move into a position of world power and expand its sphere of economic and millitary dominion, much like the great colonial powers had done in pervious centuries. I felt that they were, by and large, well written, informative and fairly even handed, laying according blame in a though out manner. They dealt criticism to both sides and opened my eyes to the comlexities of the Pacific War.

Schoms book seems the complete opposite. I have found it wholy partisan, shrill and almost vendetta like in its descriptions of the Japanese government, people and leaders (particularly the Imperial family). 'Valiant' amabssador Grew and 'exceptional' Adrimaral Kelly Turner are pitted against the 'weak minded' Hirohito and the 'sadistic' royal family controlled from birth by the military.

Maybe it's my (very) liberal bent coming through but the continually loaded description Schom uses, for both Americans and Japanese, have rubbed me up the wrong way. The JApanese are clearly the 'bad guys' millitaristic, bullying and hell bent on world domination. Similarly the Americans are the bold, benelovelent and reluctant defenders of democracy. Am I seeing a representative book on the war? Are there others that follow a similar vein or have my earliest readings skewed my outlook?

FlatSpinMan
01-27-2005, 08:06 PM
Hey ImpStar http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-tongue.gif,
I read it a while ago and enjoyed it. Just to check - this is one of a series of official US army histories, right? I think it says that somewhere in the intro. If I am correct then there will obviously be some bias to contend with, as with any history.

On the whole though I found it to be reasonably fair. Doubtless that reflects my own views and prejudices but then I think I am also fairly liberal (and I'm also married to a Japanese woman and have lived here for 5 years which should have some bearing on my opinion of Japan).

I think one reason for the negative tone of the book when describing the Japanese government was that they genuinely were under the control or influence of a very militaristic, aggressively nationalistic group. I'm NOT saying that this is something uniquely Japanese, or innate in the Japanese character but I do think it reflects the realities of that time. The politics of the 30's were incredibly violent with assassinations being commonplace. The army and navy also had significant control over the formation of new governments too as they were able to provide or withdraw their representatives to the cabinet, thereby supporting/permitting it or forcing its dissolution.
The reason I say they were aggressive and militaristic is that any country that has "ambition and desperation to move into a position of world power and expand its sphere of economic and millitary dominion" MUST be very aggressive and nationalistic. That's how they do it! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif Empires are built on conquest, domination, blood and a sense of superiority or righteousness, of mission. Any empire - The British, Rome, the Spanish, whatever - is the same in that sense. I think the reason that Japan attracted so much grief(ie the Pacific War) for doing what had already been done by numerous other societies was that they were too late. The countries of influence at that time had already started their own colonies in the 17th century and onwards and by the early to mid 20th century they had decided that it was not the done thing anymore.
Unfair, yes. Hypocritical, absolutely.

I think that is why the Japanese government do not come across well in the book - they simply were not doing nice things (neither did any other Empire builders.

If you are interested in contemporary Japanese society I can highly recommend a collection of oral histories called (runs to the bookshelf ...), ah, lent it to someone at work actually, but I think it was called "Japan at War" by Theodore H. Cook, or Moore, and his Japanese wife, Taiko? Cook or something.
It is a really interesting account and covers all elements of society from housewives, school kids, kamikaze pilots, politicians of all varieties.

I felt it painted a very balanced view of Japan at the time and it seemed to me that there was not a lot you could praise the government or Imperial family for.

By contrast, a nation that is trying to stop this is bound to look good in comparison. The book does go on to mention the rascism that occurred in the US towards the Japanese and I'm pretty sure it is critical of the bombing of Nagasaki. The author is definitely very critical of Gen. MacArthur, particularly regarding his handling of Corriegedor(sp?) as well as his refusal to accept the realities of combat in New Guinea, particularly in regard to the fighting ability if the Aussie troops on the Kokado trail(man these names are hard to remember!) To be honest I don't remember many specifics.

Anyway, that is my take on it. I'd be interested to hear more about it.
Cheers



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