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Nemesis: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45 (2007)

by Max Hastings

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In Retribution, Max Hastings details the final year of the war in the Pacific, giving background on Japan's invasion of China years before Hitler launched his offensive in Europe, and then following events as driven by the major players involved but also as experienced by the soldiers and sailors playing them out. From MacArthur's efforts to recapture the Philippines (which, Hastings argues, did little to bring about the end of the war), to the climactic naval battle of Leyte Gulf and the advent of kamikaze attacks, the American Army's efforts in China (dealing with Chiang Kai-shek and Mao) and the British in Burma, the island campaigns of 1945 including Iwo Jima and culminating in Okinawa, the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki placed in their historical context of ongoing "conventional" bombing campaigns which were often equally (and sometimes even more) horrifically deadly, and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, among other things. Hastings doesn't leave much out.

Perhaps most interesting is Hastings' discussion of Japanese atrocities during the war, both against Allied combatants and prisoners but especially against their Asian conquered subjects, whether Chinese or Filipino. The section on the war-crimes committed in Manila as MacArthur tried to retake it were especially difficult to read (and you can tell listening to the audio edition that even the narrator Simon Vance, whose reading is generally excellent, has a hard time with it). Hastings concludes by noting that the unlike the Germans, the Japanese (whose war-time record was in many respects as black as that of the Nazis) have never come to terms with or even acknowledged the crimes in their past. It's little wonder that the Chinese still haven't gotten over it, either.

As usual for Hastings, this is mostly grim stuff, but fascinating nonetheless as his research is meticulous and his narrative well-structured. Worth reading. ( )
  AshRyan | Jan 19, 2015 |
magnificent ( )
  michael.confoy.tamu | May 18, 2014 |
An excellent overview of the conflict in the Pacific, intricately woven, easily understood, and surprisingly fair in its view of all sides of the theater. ( )
  Luftwaffe_Flak | Feb 7, 2014 |
Superb. An excellent overview & bipartisan in the main. Some interesting information on MacArthur ( )
  aadyer | Jun 9, 2012 |
This book is a good read.
It gives a general narrative thread for the year leading up to the surrender of Japan, and uses that thread to hang a large number of anecdotes on. Max Hastings tends to be very critical in all he writes and Nemesis is no exception. Very few characters - or nations - come out of this book in a sympathetic fashion, except perhaps Bill Slim. Certainly the Americans come in for a tremendous amount of "stick" although they in fact won, at relatively low cost in (American) human life. Overall, the book is worth reading. It should be read in conjunction with one or two general American histories, with Soldiers of the Sun a Japanese-centric look at the war, and with Defeat into Victory, Slim's war memoirs. ( )
  RobertP | Aug 15, 2009 |
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In memory of my son CHARLES HASTINGS 1973-2000
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307263517, Hardcover)

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 Japan’s defeat was inevitable, but how the drive to victory would be achieved remained to be seen. The ensuing drama—that ended in Japan’s 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 theater’s 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 war’s bloodiest campaigns.

With unprecedented insight, Hastings discusses Japan’s war against China, now all but forgotten in the West, MacArthur’s 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:41 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Max Hastings provides in this book a chronicle of the horrific final year of the Pacific war. By the summer of 1944 it was clear that Japan's defeat was inevitable, but how the victory would be achieved remained to be seen. Hastings gives us incisive portraits of the 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 war's bloodiest campaigns. Hastings discusses Japan's war against China--now all but forgotten in the West, MacArthur's 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.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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