Open thread: what books would you most recommend to readers interested in understanding the Pacific War — its origins, its prosecution, its consequences, and the experience of those involved?
I admit, I’ve read far less about the war than I ought to have given my interest in the subject, and given its enormous importance in American and world history. Partly that’s just because I’m not a “military history” guy — but that’s really no excuse.
In any event: among the books I have read that touch on the Pacific War, and which I found interesting or enlightening, are:
- A War It Was Always Going To Lose: Why Japan Attacked America in 1941, a short volume wrestling with the question of how Japan could have decided to launch an attack against a much more powerful rival.
- Stillwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-1945, a classic history of America’s relations with China and with Chiang Kai-shek specifically during the period of Japan’s imperialist war to dismember the country.
- Hiroshima, John Hersey’s classic account of the on-the-ground experience of those on whom the first atomic bomb was dropped.
- Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids, the incomparable Kenzaburo Oe’s first novel, about teenage delinquents abandoned during the waning days of World War II.
- The Man In the High Castle, the book, not the Amazon series, a truly extraordinary meditation on the experience of defeat, and on history itself.
Books I have intended to read, as they have been recommended to me more than once, and that I am ashamed not to have read yet, include:
- With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa
- Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45
- Japanese Military Strategy in the Pacific War: Was Defeat Inevitable?
- Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan
Additional reader suggestions are explicitly solicited.