Synopses & Reviews
Hailed in Britain as “Spectacular . . . Searingly powerful” (Andrew Roberts, The Sunday Telegraph
), a riveting, impeccably informed chronicle of the final year of the Pacific war. In his critically acclaimed Armageddon
, Hastings detailed the last twelve months of the struggle for Germany. Here, in what can be considered a companion volume, he covers the horrific story of the war against Japan.
By the summer of 1944 it was clear that Japans defeat was inevitable, but how the drive to victory would be achieved remained to be seen. The ensuing drama—that ended in Japans utter devastation—was acted out across the vast stage of Asia, with massive clashes of naval and air forces, fighting through jungles, and barbarities by an apparently incomprehensible foe. In recounting the saga of this time and place, Max Hastings gives us incisive portraits of the theaters key figures—MacArthur, Nimitz, Mountbatten, Chiang Kai-shek, Mao, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin. But he is equally adept in his portrayals of the ordinary soldiers and sailors—American, British, Russian, Chinese, and Japanese—caught in some of the wars bloodiest campaigns.
With unprecedented insight, Hastings discusses Japans war against China, now all but forgotten in the West, MacArthurs follies in the Philippines, the Marines at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and the Soviet blitzkrieg in Manchuria. He analyzes the decision-making process that led to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—which, he convincingly argues, ultimately saved lives. Finally, he delves into the Japanese wartime mind-set, which caused an otherwise civilized society to carry out atrocities that haunt the nation to this day.
Retribution is a brilliant telling of an epic conflict from a master military historian at the height of his powers.
"Rana Mitterand#8217;s brilliant new book, Forgotten Ally: Chinaand#8217;s War with Japan, 1937-1945, makes an important and moving contribution to the historical record by illuminating the largely forgotten war that took the lives of millions of Chinese, yet ultimately facilitated the rise of modern China." -- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger
"Superb." and#8212; New York Times Book Review
"Important and compelling . . . Closely examin[es] Beijing's role in the Allied war effort, the heavy and often thankless price paid by the Chinese in their fight against Japan, and the impact of China's wartime traumas on the country's postwar development. . . . Fascinating." and#8212; Wall Street Journal
"Powerful . . . Mitter excels . . . in placing China's wartime experience in a robustly international framework. . . . General readers curious to learn more about Chinese history should welcome any new book by Mitter." and#8212; Daily Beast
and#160; "Rana Mitter's history of the Sino-Japanese War . . . is a major contribution to the one aspect of the Second World War of which we know far too little, and should know much more if we are to understand the new superpower today. It is a model of clarity and good writing." and#8212; Antony Beevor, Times (UK) and#160;
"Restor[es] a vital part of the wartime narrative to its rightful place. . . . A remarkable story, told with humanity and intelligence; all historians of the second world war will be in Mitterand#8217;s debt. . . . No one could ask for a better guide." - Richard Overy, Guardianand#160; (London)
"The best narrative of that long-ago war, whose effects still linger in China today." - Jonathan Mirsky, The Spectatorand#160; (London)
"Illuminating and meticulously researched. . . . It is the voice of the Chinese [. . .] that gives the distinctive tone to Mitterand#8217;s narrative. From the diaries of Chiang Kai-shek to those of national journalists and middle-class Chinese fleeing the conflict, these first-person observations are woven skillfully into his chronicle of the battles and struggles."and#160; -The Economist
and#160; "Forgotten Ally is a breathtaking chronicle of Chinaand#8217;s war with Japan from 1937 to 1945, a major theater of World War II whose story most Western readers have never heard in full -- certainly not as Mitter interprets it here. Authoritative and epic, pulsing with life, this is a grand vision of Chinaand#8217;s transformation through the cataclysm of war in the twentieth century." -- Stephen R. Platt, author of Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom and#160; "Gripping...He shows that...the east Asian conflict shaped both the outcomes of the second world war and the development of the postwar world." - The Observer and#160;
"An important, timely contribution to shedding light where there is currently much darkness... Mitter and#8217;s book demonstrates why to this day the Chinese view Japan with such animosity." -- The Financial Times
"Mitter has done an important service both in pulling together the complex narrative threads of this period and in reminding readers of Chinaand#8217;s vital and largely neglected contribution to the Allied war effort... Mitterand#8217;s excellent history tells us why we need to remember it." -- The New Statesman
and#160; "Rana Mitter has written a masterly account of the war, which blends wide deep scholarship with an accessible narrative...Mitter's great achievement is to have encompassed a multi-faceted story in a readable, coherent and gripping manner" - Jonathan Fenby, The Times and#160; "This monumental new work by Oxford University professor Rana Mitter magisterially surveys this conflict, the broader repercussions of which still resonate across East Asia." -- South China Morning Post and#160; "For decades, argues Rana Mitter in his superb new book, western readers have known too little about China's suffering....Mitter offers a lucid and moving account of the conflict's staggering military tragedies. But it is also a first-rate political and social history if China's wartime years....Mitter's elegant, rigorous and balanced account is an ideal guide to traumas that continue to cast a long shadow over the region." -- TheTelegraph and#160; "This gripping political history not only provides a detailed scholarly account of the Sino-Japanese War but also, in a prologue, offers an admirably succinct introduction to the political history of China in the first half of the twentieth century . . . A story of heroic and determined resistance . . . enlivened by extracts from the writing of Chinese people who endured the war." -- Delia Davin, Observer (UK) and#160; "A masterly account . . . Blends wide, deep scholarship with an accessible narrative that includes an admirable focus on [the warand#8217;s] effects on ordinary people . . . Mitterand#8217;s great achievement is to have encompassed a multi-faceted story in a readable, coherent, and gripping manner that should rescue this horrific conflict from the neglect it has suffered in the West and explain why history lives on in East Asia." -- Jonathan Fenby, Times (UK) "Mitterand#8217;s narrative and#233;lan, in the manner of David McCullough, creates a complex history that is urgently alive. An important, well-told tale of China at war." -- Kirkus "An important and compelling history of China's World War II experience...Mr. Mitter's book gives China its historical due." -- The Wall Street Journal
"Mitter gathers a generation of research and debate to weave new insights into a sweeping panorama...This is cutting-edge history, and thereand#8217;s scarcely a dull page. Highly recommended." -- Library Journal, starred
and#8220;This is the best study of China's war with Japan (1937-1945) written in any language. It is comprehensive, thoroughly researched, and objective. For anyone interested in how China helped shape today's world, this is a must-read.and#8221; and#8212; Akira Iriye, Charles Warren Professor of History (emeritus), Harvard University
"Forgotten Ally...deserves to be read by anyone interested in China, World War II and the future of Chinaand#8217;s relations with the rest of the world...Mitter masterfully constructs these interlocking stories of battles, famines, massacres, diplomacy and intrigue...Excellent book."and#8212; Washington Post
"[Mitter] writes with rare objectivity on subjects that remain controversial today, and his illustrations are both poignant and pertinent...Forgotten Ally is must reading for anyone seeking a full perspective on the Pacific war."-- The Washington Times
"Mitter applies historical empathy to yield fresh insights into the situations of all the actors in the horrific conflict that the Chinese call the War of Resistance Against Japan." -- Foreign Affairs
The epic, untold story of Chinaand#8217;s devastating eight-year war of resistance against Japan in World War II.
The epic, untold story of Chinaand#8217;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 Chinaand#8217;s Nationalist government; Mao Zedong, the Communistsand#8217; 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 Chiangand#8217;s American chief of staff, the unforgettable and#8220;Vinegar Joeand#8221; Stilwell, and such horrific events as the Rape of Nanking and the bombing of Chinaand#8217;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 Chinaand#8217;s worldview, and no one can understand China, and its relationship with America today, without this definitive work.
About the Author
Max Hastings is the author of more than fifteen books. He has served as a foreign correspondent and as the editor of Britains Evening Standard and The Daily Telegraph and has received numerous British Press Awards, including Journalist of the Year in 1982, and Editor of the Year in 1988. He lives outside London.
Table of Contents
"Hastings is a military historian in the grand tradition . . . He is equally adept at analyzing the broad sweep of strategy and creating thrilling set pieces that put the reader in the cockpit of a fighter plane or the conning tower of a submarine."
--Evan Thomas, The New York Times Book Review
"Compelling . . . To the broad sweep of military events Mr. Hastings adds myriad human stories . . . and he does not hesitate to offer his own keen analysis along the way."
--Peter R. Kann, The Wall Street Journal
"The great merit of Max Hastings's many books on war is his skill at bringing the numbers, as it were, down to earth. Through the imaginative power of his writing, we get an inkling . . . of what it must have been like to slog one's way up a cliff at Iwo Jima, or be firebombed in Tokyo."
--Ian Buruma, New York Review of Books
"Hastings has another winner . . . This book is first-rate popular history, stiffened with a strongly stated point of view . . . A close-up and personal look at war as it affected real people, and how it felt to them at the time."--Harry Levins, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Explosive, argumentative, intensely researched . . . Demands to be read. A book of stunning disclosures."--Tom Mackin, Sunday Star-Ledger
"[A] masterful interpretive narrative . . . Hastings is both comprehensive and finely acute."
"Spectacular . . . Searingly powerful. Hastings makes important points about the war in the East that have been all too rarely heard."
--Andrew Roberts, The Sunday Telegraph
"A triumph . . . The key to the book's success lies not in its accessibility, nor in its vivid portraits of the key figures in the drama--although it has both--but in something else entirely: the author's supremely confident ambition."
--Laurence Rees, The Sunday Times
"Extraordinary . . . Anyone who believes that we're all living through a uniquely troubled time should read this . . . book."
--Georgie Rose, The Sunday Herald
"This is a book not only for military history buffs but for anyone who wants to understand what happened in half the world during one of the bloodiest periods of the blood-soaked 20th century."
"Highly readable . . . An admirably balanced re-examination of the last phases of a conflict that it is not fashionable to remember."
--Dan van der Vat, The Guardian
"Engrossing . . . Its originality lies in the meticulousness of the author's research and the amazing witnesses he has found."
--Murray Sayle, The Evening Standard
"Hastings is . . . a master of the sort of detail that illuminates the human cost. It is the way he leaps so adeptly to and fro between the vast panorama and the tiny snapshot pictures that makes him such a readable historian."--Mail on Sunday