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Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima / 9-11 / Iraqby John W. Dower
Synopses & Reviews
From the Preface of Cultures of War:
“I began researching and writing this study shortly after September 11, 2001, when comparisons between Al Qaeda’s surprise attack and Japan’s at Pearl Harbor six decades earlier flooded the media in the United States. Japan and World War II in Asia have drawn my attention as a historian for many years, and analogies between the new conflict and the old one were provocative in unanticipated ways—increasingly so, as it turned out, as 9-11 spilled into the U.S.-led war of choice in Iraq, and that war and ensuing occupation in turn led to chaos and great suffering in a supposedly liberated land.”
Praise for John W. Dower’s War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
“One of the handful of truly important books on the Pacific War . . . a cautionary tale for all peoples, now and in the future.”—Foreign Affairs
“May well be the most important study of the Pacific War ever published.”—New Republic
Praise for Dower’s Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award
“Extraordinarily illuminating . . . the most significant work to date on the postwar era in Japan.”—Wall Street Journal
“Magisterial and beautifully written. . . . [A] richly nuanced book. . . . A pleasure to read.”—New York Times Book Review
“One senses that Dower set out to write the most important Japan book in a generation (and perhaps more). The uplifting news is that he has succeeded. . . . A masterpiece.”—The Nation
The Pulitzer Prize-winning historian returns with a groundbreaking comparative study of the dynamics and pathologies of war in modern times.
Over recent decades, John W. Dower, one of America’s preeminent historians, has addressed the roots and consequences of war from multiple perspectives. In War Without Mercy(1986), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, he described and analyzed the brutality that attended World War II in the Pacific, as seen from both the Japanese and the American sides. Embracing Defeat(1999), winner of numerous honors including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, dealt with Japan’s struggle to start over in a shattered land in the immediate aftermath of the Pacific War, when the defeated country was occupied by the U.S.-led Allied powers.
Turning to an even larger canvas, Dower now examines the cultures of war revealed by four powerful events—Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9-11, and the invasion of Iraq in the name of a war on terror. The list of issues examined and themes explored is wide-ranging: failures of intelligence and imagination, wars of choice and “strategic imbecilities,” faith-based secular thinking as well as more overtly holy wars, the targeting of noncombatants, and the almost irresistible logic—and allure—of mass destruction. Dower’s new work also sets the U.S. occupations of Japan and Iraq side by side in strikingly original ways.
One of the most important books of this decade, Cultures of Waroffers comparative insights into individual and institutional behavior and pathologies that transcend “cultures” in the more traditional sense, and that ultimately go beyond war-making alone.
About the Author
John W. Doweris the author of Embracing Defeat, winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and War without Mercy, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is professor emeritus of history at MIT and lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
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