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Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945by Rana Mitter
Synopses & Reviews
The epic, untold story of China's devastating eight-year war of resistance against Japan.
For decades, a major piece of World War II history has gone virtually unwritten. The war began in China, two years before Hitler invaded Poland, and China eventually became the fourth great ally, partner to the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain. Yet its drama of invasion, resistance, slaughter, and political intrigue remains little known in the West.
Rana Mitter focuses his gripping narrative on three towering leaders: Chiang Kai-shek, the politically gifted but tragically flawed head of China's Nationalist government; Mao Zedong, the Communists fiery ideological stalwart, seen here at the beginning of his epochal career; and the lesser-known Wang Jingwei, who collaborated with the Japanese to form a puppet state in occupied China. Drawing on Chinese archives that have only been unsealed in the past ten years, he brings to vivid new life such characters as Chiang's American chief of staff, the unforgettable “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell, and such horrific events as the Rape of Nanking and the bombing of China's wartime capital, Chongqing. Throughout, Forgotten Ally shows how the Chinese people played an essential role in the wider war effort, at great political and personal sacrifice.
Forgotten Ally rewrites the entire history of World War II. Yet it also offers surprising insights into contemporary China. No twentieth-century event was as crucial in shaping China's worldview, and no one can understand China, and its relationship with America today, without this definitive work.
"It is a remarkable story, told with humanity and intelligence; all historians of the second world war will be in Mitter's debt...Mitter explores this complex politics with remarkable clarity and economy....No one could ask for a better guide than Mitter to how that story began in the cauldron of the Chinese war." The Guardian
The epic, untold story of China's devastating eight-year war of resistance against Japan in World War II.
For decades, a major piece of World War II history has gone virtually unwritten. China was the fourth great ally, partner to the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain, yet its drama of invasion, resistance, slaughter, and political intrigue remains little known in the West. In this emotionally gripping book, made possible through access to newly unsealed Chinese archives, Rana Mitter unfurls the story of China's World War II as never before and rewrites the larger history of the war in the process. He focuses his narrative on three towering leaders — Chiang Kai-shek, Mao Zedong, and the lesser-known collaborator Wang Jingwei — and extends the timeline of the war back to 1937, when Japanese and Chinese troops began to clash, fully two years before Hitler invaded Poland.
Unparalleled in its research and scope, Forgotten Ally is a sweeping, character-driven history that will be essential reading not only for anyone with an interest in World War II, but also for those seeking to understand today's China, where, as Mitter reveals, the echoes of the war still reverberate.
About the Author
Rana Mitter is a professor of modern Chinese history at the University of Oxford and the author of several books including A Bitter Revolution. He is a regular contributor to British television and radio. His writing has appeared in the Financial Times, the Guardian, and elsewhere.
Table of Contents
Dramatis Personae xi
Pronunciation Guide xiii
Prologue: City on Fire 1
Part I: The Path to War 25
1. As Close as Lips and Teeth: Chinas Fall, Japans Rise 27
2. A New Revolution 43
3. The Path to Confrontation 56
Part II: Disaster 77
4. Thirty-seven Days in Summer: The Outbreak of War 79
5. The Battle for Shanghai 98
6. Refugees and Resistance 109
7. Massacre at Nanjing 124
8. The Battle of Taierzhuang 145
9. The Deadly River 157
Part III: Resisting Alone 171
10. “A sort of wartime normal” 173
11. Flight into the Unknown 197
12. The Road to Pearl Harbor 211
Part IV: The Poisoned Alliance 237
13. Destination Burma 239
14. Hunger in Henan 263
15. States of Terror 280
16. Conference at Cairo 296
17. One War, Two Fronts 315
18. Showdown with Stilwell 335
19. Unexpected Victory 345
Epilogue: The Enduring War 365
Further Reading 429
Photo Credits 439
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