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I have seen a number of movies on the demise of the Japanese Empire and specifically its last days in August of 1945. One that was well received was ‘Japan’s Longest Day’ made in 1967. It was mesmerizing! Eventually, this led to me acquiring William Craig’s book written and published around the same time.
I feared that this would be a victor’s account of the crushed Empire but I was proven wrong. This is an amazing piece of writing that is well balanced and thoroughly accurate in its presentation. Many of the internal military and civil workings of the Japanese Empire, its high level meetings, decision processes and subsequent actions are thoroughly explained. The major players in the drama are introduced in humane terms whether they be Japanese adversaries or Allied commanders. The thoughts and actions of key players such as Prime Mister Suziki, War Minister Anami as well as many low-key subordinates are well observed and recorded. The book goes even further than I presumed by explaining the actual occupation and surrender terms of Japan. It also highlights key individuals who saw and participated in these momentous events.
The actual events leading to Emperor Hirohito’s final radio transmission admitting total capitulation is fascinating. We also glimpse the horrors of Okinawa, bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and their effect on the Emperor and the dovish cabinet wishing to end the war at all cost. But as we learn, the final broadcast itself was almost undone by junior military officers in a last minute coup attempt. There is Hollywood tension in this book.
If you are interested in WWII history as I am, this is must read/listen book. I also recommend ‘Japan 1942: Count Down to Infamy’ by Eri Hotta.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Though it makes up only about half the book Craig's detailing of first the fire and then atomic bombing of Japan paints a vivid and horrific picture.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful