Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history/News/April 2013/Book reviews

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The Rise and Fall of the Japanese Imperial Naval Air Service - Peter J. Edwards

Mitsubishi Zero fighters preparing to take off, 7 December 1941

1/5 stars

By Sturmvogel_66

The Rise and Fall of the Japanese Imperial Naval Air Service purports to be a popular history of the Imperial Naval Air Service, but it covers much more than that, to the detriment of its nominal subject. It devotes considerable space to the development of aircraft by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and somewhat less space to cursory descriptions of the various carriers operated by the IJN. Over half the book is devoted to the interwar development of the IJN's aviation service and the author gives a lot of space to various conspiracy theories about the start of the Pacific War as well. This doesn't leave much room for the wartime history; for example, the author covers the Battle of Midway in five pages and the attack on Pearl Harbor in two.

The fundamental problem of this book is that Edwards died in 1992 and his manuscript was prepared for publication by his son, apparently without significant revision as no use has been made of any of the scholarship covering aerial operations during the Pacific War in the last quarter-century or more. This is simply inexcusable as the work of John Lundstrom, Ikuhiko Hata, Mark Peattie, Jon Parshall, Anthony Tully and others has revolutionized our understanding of what actually happened during the war; they have tapped previously unutilized sources from both sides while Edwards simply condenses the one-dimensional accounts produced by the first generation of historians who wrote about the war. This book is not without redeeming virtue as Edwards provides a number of intriguing charts and tables covering strength figures and organizational structure for various dates, but the total lack of footnotes reduces their value considerably as the reader simply does not know where they came from and thus cannot assess their reliability. The aircraft descriptions and histories have some value as they seem to be cribbed from René Francillon's Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, but most readers would be better directed to any number of books that better cover the aircraft.

This book cannot be recommended for use for any article related to its topic as the battle accounts are so cursory as to be virtually useless for citing purposes and do not reflect the latest scholarship. Even the organizational details covered in the book rely on older English-language sources and cannot be deemed fully reliable.

  • Publishing details: Edwards, Peter J. (2010). The Rise and Fall of the Japanese Imperial Naval Air Service. Barnsley, UK: Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-84884-307-3. 

Defeating Japan: The Joint Chiefs of Staff and Strategy in the Pacific War 1943-1945 - Charles F. Brower

The World War II U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Left to right: General Henry H. Arnold, Chief, U.S. Army Air Forces; Admiral William D. Leahy, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; Admiral Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations and Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet; and General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army.

2.5/5 stars

By Hawkeye7

This is an unusual work in two regards. While books about the Joint Chiefs and strategy during World War II are fairly common, most are about the strategy of the war against Germany rather than the one against Japan. And those works that do examine the strategy of the war against Japan tend to focus on the first part of the war, in 1942. This book is about the later part of the war, from 1943 onwards.

Defeating Japan doesn't cover everything that one might expect. It looks mainly at the war in Burma, the Luzon-Formosa debate and the controversy over whether or not to invade Japan. Its thesis is that the notion that the Joint Chiefs were apolitical—caring only about military matters—is a myth. It shows how political concerns were in the back of the Joint Chiefs' minds throughout.

While a lot of books have examined the issue of the invasion of Japan in the context of using nuclear weapons against the Japanese, this book places the invasion plans in the context of a long-term strategy dating back to 1943. In a nutshell, the Joint Chiefs, fearing a protracted war that would lose public support, opted for an invasion of Japan rather than besieging it through blockade and aerial bombardment. But if the invasion became protracted, or a costly bloodbath, then the invasion would be counter-productive.

For most readers, this book is probably insufficient. It amounts to only a single slim volume and, crucially, does not cover all aspects of the war against Japan. The strategy in Micronesia and the South West Pacific is not really covered, and therefore the book is in no sense the last word on the subject.

  • Publishing details: Brower, Charles F. (2012). Defeating Japan the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Strategy in the Pacific War, 1943-1945. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137025227. OCLC 815767460. 

Recent external reviews

Ray, Fred Eugene Jr. (2012). Greek and Macedonian Land Battles of the 4th Century B.C. A History and Analysis of 187 Engagements. Jefferson, NC: McFarland Publishing. ISBN 9780786469734. 

Glass, Charles (2013). Deserter : The Last Untold Story of the Second World War. London: HarperPress. ISBN 978-0007345922. 

Richard, Breitman; Lichtman, Allan J. (2013). FDR and the Jews. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. ISBN 0674050266. 

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