Synopses & Reviews
The epic, untold story of Chinas 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 Chinas 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 Chiangs American chief of staff, the unforgettable “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell, and such horrific events as the Rape of Nanking and the bombing of Chinas 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 Chinas worldview, and no one can understand China, and its relationship with America today, without this definitive work.
andldquo;This harrowing tale of political miscalculation and misunderstanding is recommended for all readers of history, politics, and current affairs.andrdquo;and#160;andmdash;and#160;Library Journal
andldquo;A fine unwinding of an epic event.andrdquo;and#160;andmdash;and#160;Booklist
andldquo;Hajari skillfully picks through this perilous history . . . A carefully restrained and delineated account makes for chilling reading.andrdquo;and#160;andmdash;and#160;Kirkus Reviews
andldquo;Pakistan is perhaps the worldandrsquo;s most dangerous countryandmdash;a combustible mix of nuclear weapons, jihadis, bloody borders, and a dysfunctional state. You can only truly understand the country by going to its roots. Nisid Hajari does just that in this powerful, intelligent, and beautifully written book. He finds in Indiaandrsquo;s partition and its aftermath mistakes, compromises, and cowardice as well as all the ideology, venom, and violence that have now erupted onto the global stage. Hajari presents the history like a detective story and you will be swept along. Except in this case, none of us knows how it will end.andrdquo; andmdash;and#160;Fareed Zakaria, author ofand#160;The Post-American World
andldquo;History is about grand cultural and geographical forces within which individual leaders must, nevertheless, take moral responsibility for better and worse outcomes. Nisid Hajariandrsquo;s meticulous study of Indiaandrsquo;s birth captures this dichotomy brilliantly.andrdquo;and#160;andmdash; Robert D. Kaplan, author ofand#160;Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power
andldquo;Indiaandrsquo;s partition in 1947 was a traumatic event unparalleled in its human toll since World War II. Its legacy continues to haunt both India and Pakistan and threaten global security. Yet the train of events that culminated in the paroxysm of violence and partition has remained shrouded in mystery.and#160;Midnightandrsquo;s Furiesand#160;relies on fresh historical sources to go beyond the familiar debate about why Hindus and Muslims were at odds over the future of India, and shows how decisions by leaders reacting to unfolding events sealed the fate of united India and produced the cycle of violence that forever marked the peoples and governments of the region. Well-researched and eminently readable, this haunting account puts into the proper perspective both history and current events.andrdquo;and#160;andmdash; Vali Nasr, author ofand#160;The Shia Revivaland#160;andand#160;The Dispensable Nation
andldquo;Nisid Hajari brings new research, deep involvement, and a keen intelligence to write a history that brings so many people to life and will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. Today, with Pakistan facing unprecedented extremist violence and a hardline right wing government in New Delhi that wants no dialogue with Islamabad, we could be on the brink of more furies being unleashed. A must read.andrdquo;and#160;andmdash; Ahmed Rashid, author ofand#160;Pakistan on the Brinkand#160;andand#160;Taliban
andldquo;The Partition of British-ruled India in 1947 was a momentous event in world history that has impacted the war on terror as well as the politics and economy of Asia to a degree that is still not fully understood. Nisid Hajariandrsquo;s book illuminates it with a rare political acuity, narrative verve, and stylistic elegance. Unravelling canonized reputations and highlighting obscure ones, he shows how a large part of humanity came into its political inheritance, and the wounds this violent process left on the body politic of India and Pakistan. Anyone wondering howand#160;nuclear-armed South Asia came to be vulnerable to religious extremism will find clear and profound answers here.andrdquo;and#160;andmdash; Pankaj Mishra, author ofand#160;From the Ruins of Empire
The epic, untold story of Chinaand#8217;s devastating eight-year war of resistance against Japan in World War II.
An Economist Book of the Year
A Financial Times Book of the Year
andldquo;A book that has long cried out to be written.andrdquo; andmdash; Observer (UK), Books of the Year
In 1937, two years before Hitler invaded Poland, Chinese troops clashed with Japanese occupiers in the first battle of World War II. Joining with the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain, China became the fourth great ally in a devastating struggle for its very survival.
Prizewinning historian Rana Mitter unfurls Chinaandrsquo;s drama of invasion, resistance, slaughter, and political intrigue as never before. Based on groundbreaking research, this gripping narrative focuses on a handful of unforgettable characters, including Chiang Kai-shek, Mao Zedong, and Chiangandrsquo;s American chief of staff, andldquo;Vinegar Joeandrdquo; Stilwell. Mitter also recounts the sacrifice and resilience of everyday Chinese people through the horrors of bombings, famines, and the infamous Rape of Nanking.
More than any other twentieth-century event, World War II was crucial in shaping Chinaandrsquo;s worldview, making Forgotten Ally both a definitive work of history and an indispensable guide to todayandrsquo;s China and its relationship with the West.
andldquo;In the manner of David McCullough, [Mitter] creates a complex history that is urgently alive.andrdquo; andmdash; Kirkus Reviews
The searing, under-reported history ofand#160; the partition of India as aand#160;dramatic, bloody crisis that remains a key historical faultline today
Aand#160;and#160;few bloody months in South Asia during the summer of 1947 explainand#160;the world that troubles us today.
Nobody expected the liberation of India and birth of Pakistan to be so bloody andmdash; it was supposed to be an answer to the dreams of Muslims and Hindus who had been ruled by the British for centuries. Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhiandrsquo;s protandeacute;gandeacute; and the political leader of India, believed Indians were an inherently nonviolent, peaceful people. Pakistanandrsquo;s founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was a secular lawyer, not a firebrand.and#160; But in August 1946, exactly a year before Independence, Calcutta erupted in street-gang fighting. A cycle of riots andmdash; targeting Hindus, then Muslims, then Sikhs andmdash; spiraled out of control. As the summer of 1947 approached, all three groups were heavily armed and on edge, and the British rushed to leave. Hell let loose. Trains carried Muslims west and Hindus east to their slaughter. Some of the most brutal and widespread ethnic cleansing in modern history erupted on both sides of the new border, searing a divide between India and Pakistan that remains a root cause of many evils. From jihadi terrorism to nuclear proliferation, the searing tale told in Midnightandrsquo;s Furies explains all too many of the headlines we read today.
About the Author
NISID HAJARI is the Asia editor for Bloomberg View. Prior to Bloomberg, he spent a decade at Newsweekandnbsp;as Asia editor, foreign editor, and eventually coeditor at the top of the masthead.andnbsp;He has appeared frequently as a commentator on foreign affairs on NPR, NBC, and CNN, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.