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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JAPAN AT WAR, 1931-1945Seventy-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
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Posted April 18, 2015. Websites ©1997-2015 Daniel Ford. All rights reserved.