The long road to Tokyo: Japanese aggression in China, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific, with special attention to books about the Rape of Nanking, Japanese fighter planes and pilots, the Burma campaign, and the Hiroshima bomb

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HOME > JAPAN

JAPAN AT WAR, 1931-1945

Seventy-three years ago today -- on April 18, 1942 -- sixteen B-25 Mitchell bombers took off from the carrier Hornet to bomb Tokyo and other Japanese cities. The raid was a debacle, with little damage to Japan, all the American bombers lost, and eight crewmen suffering execution or horrific imprisonment. But what a debacle! To those of us reading the newspapers at home, the Doolittle Raider were a morale boost matched only by Claire Chennault's Flying Tigers.

James M. Scott has written, and Norten has published, a hefty, pricey, and evidently significant history of the Doolittle Raid, available now at Amazon.com and other retailers in print and digital editions. (I'm seeing a price of about $25 for the hardcover and $16.50 for the digital edition on Amazon, as opposed to a retail price of $35 for the print edition.)

Mr. Scott's title repeats one used earlier by the late, great historian Gordon Prange, and the subject matter similarly echoes the work of Carroll V. Glines. But the new book evidently goes deeper into the archives than Mr. Glines and other writers did, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

The Doolittle Raid had horrendous consequences. Understanding for the first time that their homeland was vulnerable to aerial attack, the Japanese decided to extend their defensive perimeter. On the Chinese mainland, they set out to capture and destroy the airfields that had been built to receive the American bombers, and which of course could be used for future attacks on the Japanese home islands. The result was an astonishing butchery of the civilians unfortunate enough to be in the path of the Japanese army.

Nor was that all. The Japanese also invaded and occupied Attu and Kiska in the Aleutian islands, setting off the Thousand Mile War that lasted for fifteen months and cost the lives of 4,340 Japanese and 1,480 Americans ... and not incidentally prompted the construction of the Alaskan Highway, without which the postwar development of Alaska would have been very different.

Even more important, the Japanese set out to capture Midway Island. This led, in June 1942, to the pivotal battle in which the Japanese navy lost the four aircraft carriers committed to the invasion, along with 248 aircraft and scores of highly trained, battle-trained, and irreplaceable fighter pilots. After Midway, there was no other possible outcome for the Pacific War than an American victory. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Japan's long war:

The Hiroshima files:

The Japanese Army Air Force files:

Why's a Zero?

Kamikaze, cannibals, & other mysteries:

Books & stuff:

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 
1941-1942
Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers: "Every page contains a new tidbit of information and rich, long-forgotten detail."

Rising Sun Over
Burma
Rising Sun Over Burma - Wild Eagles and Flying Tigers - How Japan Remembers the Battle. Kindle edition.

Remains: a story of the Flying Tigers
Remains: a story of the Flying Tigers: "A cracking good yarn" (Air&Space magazine)

A Vision So Noble: John Boyd, the OODA Loop, and America's
War on Terror
A Vision So Noble: How would John Boyd have dealt with Osama bin Laden?

Lady & the Tigers
The Lady and the Tigers: Olga Greenlaw's 1942 account of her year with the Flying Tigers in Burma and China. Paperback or Kindle edition.

100 Hawks for China - the story of the shark-nosed P-40 that made the Flying Tigers famous. An e-book for the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook.

The Last Raid: How World War II ended, August 1945
The Last Raid: How World War II ended, August 1945 - a 'thousand-plane raid' was the last act in a war that began eight years earlier. For the Amazon Kindle.

AVG Confidential: A Flying Tiger Reports to the U.S. Navy Noel Bacon on Japan's planes and pilots and and how to combat them. For the Amazon Kindle and other e-book readers.

Poland's Daughter
Poland's Daughter - How I Met Basia, Hitchhiked to Italy, and Learned About Love, War, and Exile. "An extraordinary book" (Cosmopolitan Review). Paperback or Kindle edition.