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review 2018-07-18 18:44
Good, if somewhat dated, overview of America's war in the Pacific and Asia
Eagle Against The Sun: The American War With Japan - Ronald H. Spector

In the 1960s Macmillan began publishing a series entitled "The Macmillan Wars of the United States." Written by some of the nation's leading military historians, its volumes offered surveys of the various conflicts America had fought over the centuries, the strategies employed, and the services which fought them. Ultimately fourteen volumes were published over two decades, with many of them still serving as excellent accounts of their respective subjects.

 

As the last book published in the series, Ronald Spector's contribution to it serves as a sort of capstone to its incomplete efforts. In it he provides an account of the battles and campaigns waged by the United States against Japan in the Second World War, from the prewar planning and the assumptions held in the approach to war to the deployment of the atomic bombs that ended it. In between the covers all of the major naval battles and island-hopping campaigns in the Pacific, as well as America's military efforts in the China-Burma-India theater. He rounds out his coverage with chapters discussing both the social composition of the forces America deployed and the complex intelligence operations against the Japanese, ones that extended beyond the now-famous codebreaking efforts that proved so valuable.

 

Though dated in a few respects, overall Spector's book serves as a solid single-volume survey of the war waged by the United States against Japan. By covering the efforts against the Japanese in mainland Asia, he incorporates an important aspect of the war too often overlooked or glossed over in histories of America's military effort against the Japanese, one that often influenced developments elsewhere in the theater. Anyone seeking an introduction to America's war with Japan would be hard pressed to find a better book, which stands as a great example of what Macmillan set out to accomplish when they first embarked upon the series.

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text 2018-02-14 21:48
Reading progress update: I've read 68%.
The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 - Margaret MacMillan

Finished.

The rest of the book are notes and sources.

 

That was a hell of a long, depressing, and infuriating read - but it was worth it.

 

I haven't been able to keep up with the chapter updates - it didn't help that BL was (and still is) so slow to load anything - but I will add more thoughts to the forthcoming review.

And if we want to point fingers from the twenty-first century we can accuse those who took Europe into war of two things. First, a failure of imagination in not seeing how destructive such a conflict would be and second, their lack of courage to stand up to those who said there was no choice left but to go war. There are always choices.

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text 2018-02-11 11:23
The War that Ended Peace - Reading updates
The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 - Margaret MacMillan

I meant to read this book in 2014, but may have gotten side-tracked with other books about WWI in that year...

 

I'll keep a running post for reading updates for this book as it will encompass too much information to deal with in one post and I would like to keep notes while reading - and I would like to keep the notes in one place.

 

Reading updates:

 

Chapters 10 through 16 - ...

 

I haven't made notes on these chapters individually. They all describe further events in international politics that are fuelled by imperialism, nationalism, and the general ineptitude of various people in positions where diplomacy and circumspection are requirements which they all seem to be lacking and try to make up for with arrogance, nationalism, and ambition to put themselves on the map.

Aehrenthal recognised that there were risks in stirring up the Balkans. The international scene, he told Austria-Hungary’s Common Ministerial Council in the autumn of 1907, was generally good but there were trouble spots, such as the Balkans themselves or Morocco, and there were turbulent forces at large in the world. ‘The stage is set, the actors are ready, only the costumes are lacking for the play to begin. The second decade of the 20th century may well witness very grave events. In view of the combustible material about, they may come sooner.’32 In 1908 Aehrenthal came close to setting that material alight but luck was with him and the world for the time being.

Alois von Aehrenthal was Austria-Hungary's Foreign Minister, and it is actions and statements like the above that show how unsuitable he was for that positions. Many of his international counterparts seem to have been no better. 

 

Seriously, these people were bat-shit crazy and it is scary and depressing to read, even more so when one considers how many "politicians" today lack the very qualities - knowledge, tact, circumspection, diplomacy, long-term planning - caused the infernal events of WWI and its consequences.

 

Previous updates are below the page break.

 

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text 2018-01-05 02:09
Reading progress update: I've read 784 out of 784 pages.
The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 - Margaret MacMillan

I have mixed feelings about this book. Overall it's a good, readable overview of the run up to the First World War that incorporates an impressive range of factors and includes a number of excellent pen portraits of European leaders. Yet it is peppered with minor errors; more importantly, it doesn't offer anything new to its readers, just points that were culled from other, previously published materials. Perhaps if I hadn't read Christopher Clark's The Sleepwalkers I would have a higher opinion of this book, but Clark is an extremely hard act to follow.

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text 2018-01-01 20:03
Reading progress update: I've read 28 out of 784 pages.
The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 - Margaret MacMillan

Two chapters in, and so far I'm finding the book a disappointment. Instead of offering something a little fresh, she's covering well-trodden ground which she's trying to enliven with portentous prose. Hopefully the text improves once we get past the preliminaries.

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