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Rising Sun Victorious : The Alternate…
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Rising Sun Victorious : The Alternate History of How the Japanese Won the… (2001)

by Peter G. Tsouras

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1403134,632 (3.39)2
Ten leading military historians offer a speculative look at what would have happened in the Pacific during the Second World War and the repercussions for the United States if Japan had been victorious, presenting a series of fact-based alternate scenarios and insights about the war.

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I think there’s a general consensus that WWII in Europe was “a near-run thing”; that if the Germans had been a little smarter or luckier or the Allies a little stupider or less lucky, we’d all living in the Thousand Year Reich now. The Pacific war seems to be a different story; the perception is that blindness to their weaknesses and American strengths doomed the Japanese, no matter what they did.


Despite the subtitle (“The Alternative History of How the Japanese Won the Pacific War”) this is a collection of essays of various plausible and implausible events that might have made WWII in the Pacific come out differently. Each one is stand alone, without assuming the previous have taken place. The possibilities are:


* The “Go North” faction wins and Japan attacks the Soviet Union in 1941. The critical assumption is that the Sorge spy ring is cracked and Sorge is turned, feeding false information to the Russians. The scenario also requires that Siberian troops get sent west much earlier, thus disappearing in the great encirclements of the summer of 1941 rather than showing up in the nick of time at the gates of Moscow, and the USSR collapses.


* For political reasons the US dusts off War Plan Orange and sends the entire navy west at the start of the war (which begins with the invasion of the Philippines, not Pearl Harbor). The USN learns about the Zero and the Long Lance on the high seas, not at Pearl, and even American production can’t recover and we sue for peace.


* Pearl Harbor is even more disastrous; the carriers are caught, a third wave destroys the shops and fuel tanks, and the Nevada sinks in the channel instead of beaching.


* The Japanese figure out that we have broken their codes after Coral Sea; plus the Yorktown is lost there, leaving us with one fewer carrier and Yamamoto with a revised plan. (What happens at Midway isn’t played out).


* McCluskey turns the wrong way at Midway; all the Japanese carriers survive and all three American carriers are lost. The next targets for the IJN are Oahu, San Diego, and the Panama Canal. (This one ends in a draw - the introduction of the proximity fuse and better organization of American air defenses drive off the Japanese. However, the implications for the war in Europe and North Africa are considerable, as the US abandons the Germany first strategy and leaves the British and Russians to fend for themselves.)


* Invasion of Australia - not very convincing. Even the Japanese couldn’t get victory disease so bad as to commit themselves to that. And it fails.


* The Guadalcanal invasion fails - presumably the US licks its wounds and tries again.


* Invasion of India; the Japanese are driven out eventually but the diversion and exhaustion of Allied strength in a land war in Asia results in a negotiated peace.



* Kurita presses on at Leyte and the American invasion forces are smashed. A negotiated peace leaves the Japanese in control of China.


* Even four atomic bombings don’t convince the Japanese to give up (the Emperor is kidnapped before he can make the surrender recording. The resulting invasion of Kyushu is a bloodbath. (Unlike the rest of the essays, which are straightforward narratives, this is presented as a lecture at the Naval War College in 1946. It doesn’t work very well.)


I don’t know. It’s hard to imagine The Greatest Generation giving up on anything. On the other hand, there’s always a tendency to think that the way things happened is the way they had to happen; the complaint that some of the scenarios presented here are very unlikely stumbles on the fact that many of the things that actually happened were unlikely, too. There’s a lot of effort here in concocting fictional orders of battle and radio messages and etc.; paradoxically, it doesn’t seem as exciting as actual accounts of the real war. I think this one’s worth three stars - pick it up at the library. ( )
  setnahkt | Dec 17, 2017 |
a nice read with plausible actions. just explains how difficult an Japanese victory would have been. ( )
  JayTheMagnificent | Jun 30, 2008 |
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The Pacific War was a war of extremes: extremes of distance and climate, of opportunity, chance, boldness, and of technology, from the Samurai sword to the atom bomb.
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