Japan 1941

Japan 1941

Countdown to Infamy

eBook - 2013
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A groundbreaking history that considers the attack on Pearl Harbor from the Japanese perspective and is certain to revolutionize how we think of the war in the Pacific.

When Japan launched hostilities against the United States in 1941, argues Eri Hotta, its leaders, in large part, understood they were entering a war they were almost certain to lose. Drawing on material little known to Western readers, and barely explored in depth in Japan itself, Hotta poses an essential question: Why did these men--military men, civilian politicians, diplomats, the emperor--put their country and its citizens so unnecessarily in harm's way? Introducing us to the doubters, schemers, and would-be patriots who led their nation into this conflagration, Hotta brilliantly shows us a Japan rarely glimpsed--eager to avoid war but fraught with tensions with the West, blinded by reckless militarism couched in traditional notions of pride and honor, tempted by the gambler's dream of scoring the biggest win against impossible odds and nearly escaping disaster before it finally proved inevitable.

In an intimate account of the increasingly heated debates and doomed diplomatic overtures preceding Pearl Harbor, Hotta reveals just how divided Japan's leaders were, right up to (and, in fact, beyond) their eleventh-hour decision to attack. We see a ruling cadre rich in regional ambition and hubris: many of the same leaders seeking to avoid war with the United States continued to adamantly advocate Asian expansionism, hoping to advance, or at least maintain, the occupation of China that began in 1931, unable to end the second Sino-Japanese War and unwilling to acknowledge Washington's hardening disapproval of their continental incursions. Even as Japanese diplomats continued to negotiate with the Roosevelt administration, Matsuoka Yosuke, the egomaniacal foreign minister who relished paying court to both Stalin and Hitler, and his facile supporters cemented Japan's place in the fascist alliance with Germany and Italy--unaware (or unconcerned) that in so doing they destroyed the nation's bona fides with the West.

We see a dysfunctional political system in which military leaders reported to both the civilian government and the emperor, creating a structure that facilitated intrigues and stoked a jingoistic rivalry between Japan's army and navy. Roles are recast and blame reexamined as Hotta analyzes the actions and motivations of the hawks and skeptics among Japan's elite. Emperor Hirohito and General Hideki Tojo are newly appraised as we discover how the two men fumbled for a way to avoid war before finally acceding to it.

Hotta peels back seventy years of historical mythologizing--both Japanese and Western--to expose all-too-human Japanese leaders torn by doubt in the months preceding the attack, more concerned with saving face than saving lives, finally drawn into war as much by incompetence and lack of political will as by bellicosity. An essential book for any student of the Second World War, this compelling reassessment will forever change the way we remember those days of infamy.

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.
ISBN: 9780385350518
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: eBiblioFile
OverDrive, Inc

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SEBoiko
Jul 09, 2014

By allying with Japan and Italy, Germany hoped to deter the United States and minimize the chance of US participation in a European war.

s
SEBoiko
Jul 09, 2014

when Japan sent planes to attack Pearl Harbor, it was mired in economic and political uncertainties.

s
SEBoiko
Jul 09, 2014

Japan had entered into a situation of war with the United States and Britain in the western pacific before dawn.

s
SEBoiko
Jul 09, 2014

Broadly speaking, one of the biggest obstacles to withdrawing from a war, especially a war you are losing is justifying the blood spilled and the money spent.

s
SEBoiko
Jul 09, 2014

Stalin, of course, continued to be terrified by the prospect for a two-front war.

s
SEBoiko
Jul 09, 2014

The French finally gave into a 'peaceful' Japanese takeover on July 22.

s
SEBoiko
Jul 09, 2014

Man is not a man if he does not gamble.

s
SEBoiko
Jun 11, 2014

none of the top leaders, their occasional protestations not withstanding, had sufficient will, desire; or courage to stop the momentum for war.

s
SEBoiko
Jun 11, 2014

one must enter the tiger's den in order to catch his cubs.

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SeattleSaul
Sep 21, 2014

This thoroughly researched, very readable work gives great insight into how and why Japan stumbled into WWII step-by-step. Interspersed with actual quotes and communications from the leaders, it shows how a modern nation, arguably the most advanced in Asia, engaged itself in a war that it knew it was almost certain to lose with an industrial, continental powerhouse, the U.S. I think that if only this story applied to the Japan of 1941, it would only be a well-told story to gaze upon with sadness, but the leaders of contemporary countries would do well to study the mistakes made and hope not to repeat them.
An excellent, highly readable book. I give it my highest recommendation.

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twisted8
Apr 10, 2014

Excellent work for both the knowledgeable & the novice. While a bit dense at times regarding background material all of it is relevant and worthwhile. Highly recommended.

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