Peter Smith

Publications, Lectures and Other Stuff

Japan and World War II

A useful article from the NYRB of 22 May 2014 by Rana Mitter, ‘The Smooth Path to Pearl Harbor’. It is a review of Eri Hotta’s book Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy (Knopf, 2013).

The review deals with Hotta’s analysis of the Japanese government decision-making in the run-up to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the invasion of SE Asia — noting the strains within Japanese society at the time, the lack of strongly-voiced criticism of the drift towards war by those Japanese leaders who were opposed to it, and the unreality of the war-planners’ scenarios.

Mitter also discusses the contemporary Chinese and Japanese understandings of the War and the contrary views of different Japanese leaders and the way in which such pronouncements impact Sino-Japanese relations.

The article can be read here:


Btw, from another review: “Hotta illuminates the extraordinary ideological and military predicament in which Japan found itself  in the months before the attack on Pearl Harbor…[She] brings to life the key figures of a deeply divided Japanese leadership…[and] scrupulously details [their] negotiations and squabbles…against a backdrop of dauntingly complex domestic and international maneuverings.” —The New Yorker


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This entry was posted on May 8, 2014 by in History and tagged , , , , .
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