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Japan's Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall,…
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Japan's Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945

by Edward J. Drea

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The question when one considers the Imperial Japanese Army and how it came to a bad end is whether there was, realistically, another ending. While I was not that impressed by Drea's coverage of the 20th century (possibly a situation of familiarity breeding contempt), perhaps the answer lies in how desperately the founders of the Meiji state were seeking to avoid the fate of late-imperial China. To the point that the Japanese leadership developed such a well-ingrained contempt and bigotry towards China that when the intelligent move would have been realizing that the they'd have to take the Chiang and the KMT seriously they couldn't bring themselves to forge a positive relationship. That said I found the portion of the book dealing with the fall of the Shogunate through the Russo-Japanese War fascinating, as the young Satsuma and Choshu hotheads become another calcified elite, to the point that the mistakes of 1904-1905 were covered up as being too embarrassing to admit. Dealing thoughtfully with those mistakes might have averted tragedy down the road but that would have probably required the Meiji Emperor putting his foot down the way Hirohito did in 1945. ( )
  Shrike58 | Jun 2, 2018 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0700616632, Hardcover)

Popular impressions of the imperial Japanese army still promote images of suicidal banzai charges and fanatical leaders blindly devoted to their emperor. Edward Drea looks well past those stereotypes to unfold the more complex story of how that army came to power and extended its influence at home and abroad to become one of the world's dominant fighting forces.

This first comprehensive English-language history of the Japanese army traces its origins, evolution, and impact as an engine of the country's regional and global ambitions and as a catalyst for the militarization of the Japanese homeland from mid-nineteenth-century incursions through the end of World War II. Demonstrating his mastery of Japanese-language sources, Drea explains how the Japanese style of warfare, burnished by samurai legends, shaped the army, narrowed its options, influenced its decisions, and made it the institution that conquered most of Asia. He also tells how the army's intellectual foundations shifted as it reinvented itself to fulfill the changing imperatives of Japanese society--and how the army in turn decisively shaped the nation's political, social, cultural, and strategic course.

Drea recounts how Japan devoted an inordinate amount of its treasury toward modernizing, professionalizing, and training its army--which grew larger, more powerful, and politically more influential with each passing decade. Along the way, it produced an efficient military schooling system, a well-organized active duty and reserve force, a professional officer corps that thought in terms of regional threat, and well-trained soldiers armed with appropriate weapons.

Encompassing doctrine, strategy, weaponry, and civil-military relations, Drea's expert study also captures the dominant personalities who shaped the imperial army, from Yamagata Aritomo, an incisive geopolitical strategist, to Anami Korechika, who exhorted the troops to fight to the death during the final days of World War II. Summing up, Drea also suggests that an army that places itself above its nation's interests is doomed to failure.

This book is part of the Modern War Studies series.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:51 -0400)

This book looks well past the stereotypes of suicidal banzai charges and fanatical leaders blindly devoted to their emperor to the more complex story of how that army came to power and extended its influence at home as well as abroad to become one of the world's dominant fighting forces. The author traces the Japanese army's origins, evolution, and impact as an engine of the country's regional along with global ambitions from mid-19th century incursions through the end of World War II. Encompassing doctrine, strategy, weaponry, and civil-military relations, this study also captures the dominant personalities who shaped the Imperial Army, from Yamagata Aritomo-- an incisive geopolitical strategist-- to Anami Korechika-- who exhorted the troops to fight to the death during the final days of World War II. Summing up, the author suggests that an army that places itself above its nation's interests is doomed to failure.… (more)

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