Monday, January 23, 2023

Tower of Skulls

A History of the Asia-Pacific War: July 1937- May 1942, by Richard B Frank.

It is what the sub-title says. I didn't know a lot about the China part of WW-II. It turns out I didn't know a lot about the South Pacific and IndoChina aspects either.

China got the short end of the stick here, even fighting Japan's 2'nd rank divisions. The Chinese tried to stop a Japanese advance by creating a flood that may have killed half a million Chinese. When Hitler invaded the USSR, more Chinese had been killed than any other group on Earth, and the second-greatest killer was the USSR--it took a while for the Nazis to catch up to the Soviets and the Japanese.

The China war was begun more by the mid-level Japanese officers than anybody on high. Japanese treated POWs worse when the captors were in a small group.

Records suggest that the high-ups knew they couldn't win a war with the USA, but nobody had the courage to say so at official meetings. Japanese Army and Navy were both split with political divisions, in addition to not always talking to each other.

One of the side effects of the Japanese invasion of China and the massive dislocations this created was the development of an assumption that the Chinese central government was responsible for relief, not just for assisting the local authorities to do it.

Frank is not always the most gripping writer, but the book is worth reading.


J Melcher said...

Perspective, if you like:

Barbara Tuchman's biography of a US general as the narrative "hook" of the run up to and conduct of the Chinese / Japanese conflict.

james said...

I haven't read that one, but Stilwell is not depicted favorably in Tower of Skulls.