Storm Clouds over the Pacific, 1931–41

Casemate
Free sample

War in the Far East is a trilogy of books comprising a general history of the war against Japan; unlike other histories it expands the narrative beginning long before Pearl Harbor and encompasses a much wider group of actors to produce the most complete narrative yet written and the first truly international treatment of the epic conflict. Peter Harmsen uses his renowned ability to weave together complex events into an entertaining and revealing narrative, including facets of the war that may be unknown to many readers of WWII history, such as the war in Subarctic conditions on the Aleutians, or the mass starvations that cost the lives of millions in China, Indochina, and India, and offering a range of perspectives to reflect what war was like both at the top and at the bottom, from the Oval Office to the blistering sands of Peleliu.

Storm Clouds Over the Pacific begins the story long before Pearl Harbor, showing how the war can only be understood if ancient hatreds and long-standing geopolitics are taken into account. Peter Harmsen demonstrates how Japan and China’s ancient enmity grew in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries leading to increased tensions in the 1930s which exploded into conflict in 1937. The battles of Shanghai and Nanjing were followed by the battle of Taierzhuang in 1938, China’s only major victory. A war of attrition continued up to 1941, the year when Japan made the momentous decision for all-out war; the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor catapulted the United States into the war, and the Japanese also overran British and Dutch territories throughout the western Pacific.
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About the author

Peter Harmsen, a foreign correspondent in East Asia for two decades, has worked for Bloomberg, the Economist Intelligence Unit, and the Financial Times. He is also the former bureau chief in Taiwan for French news agency AFP. His books have been translated into Chinese, Danish, and Romanian.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Casemate
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Published on
Dec 1, 2018
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9781612004815
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Asia / General
History / Military / Naval
History / Military / World War II
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The New York Times bestseller that inspired the documentary Shanghai 1937: Where World War II Began on Public Television.

At its height, the Battle of Shanghai involved nearly a million Chinese and Japanese soldiers while sucking in three million civilians as unwilling spectators—and often victims. It turned what had been a Japanese imperialist adventure in China into a general war between the two oldest and proudest civilizations of the Far East. Ultimately, it led to Pearl Harbor and to seven decades of tumultuous history in Asia. The Battle of Shanghai was a pivotal event that helped define and shape the modern world.

In its sheer scale, the struggle for China’s largest city was a sinister forewarning of what was in store only a few years later in theaters around the world. It demonstrated how technology had given rise to new forms of warfare and had made old forms even more lethal. Amphibious landings, tank assaults, aerial dogfights, and—most important—urban combat all happened in Shanghai in 1937. It was a dress rehearsal for World War II—or, perhaps more correctly, it was the inaugural act in the war, the first major battle in the global conflict.

Actors from a variety of nations were present in Shanghai during the three fateful autumn months when the battle raged. The rich cast included China’s ascetic Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and his Japanese adversary, General Matsui Iwane, who wanted Asia to rise from disunity, but ultimately pushed the continent toward its deadliest conflict ever. Claire Chennault, later of “Flying Tiger” fame, was among the figures emerging in the course of the campaign, as was First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. In an ironic twist, Alexander von Falkenhausen, a stern German veteran of the Great War, abandoned his role as a mere advisor to the Chinese army and led it into battle against the Japanese invaders.

Shanghai 1937 fills a gaping chasm in our understanding of the War of Resistance and the Second World War.
A true story of the Sino-Japanese conflict: A “valuable account of a little-known event [and] a grim reminder of the darker side of war” (Military History Monthly).

The infamous Rape of Nanjing looms like a dark shadow over the history of Asia in the twentieth century, and is among the most widely recognized chapters of World War II in China. By contrast, the story of the month-long campaign before this notorious massacre has never been told in its entirety. Nanjing 1937 by Peter Harmsen fills this gap.
 
This is the follow-up to Harmsen’s bestselling Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze, and begins where that book left off. In stirring prose, it describes how the Japanese Army, having invaded the mainland and emerging victorious from the Battle of Shanghai, pushed on toward the capital, Nanjing, in a crushing advance that confirmed its reputation for bravery and savagery in equal measure.
 
While much of the struggle over Shanghai had carried echoes of the grueling war in the trenches two decades earlier, the Nanjing campaign was a fast-paced mobile operation in which armor and air power played major roles. It was blitzkrieg two years before Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Facing the full might of modern, mechanized warfare, China’s resistance was heroic, but ultimately futile.
 
As in Shanghai, the battle for Nanjing was more than a clash between Chinese and Japanese. Soldiers and citizens of a variety of nations witnessed or took part in the hostilities. German advisors, American journalists, and British diplomats all played important parts in this vast drama. And a new power appeared on the scene: Soviet pilots dispatched by Stalin to challenge Japan’s control of the skies.
 
This epic tale is told with verve and attention to detail by Harmsen, a veteran East Asia correspondent who consolidates his status as the foremost chronicler of World War II in China with this path-breaking work of narrative history.
#1 New York Times Bestseller

From the bestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. 

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love. 

Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.
In the tradition of Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air and Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm comes a true tale of riveting adventure in which two weekend scuba divers risk everything to solve a great historical mystery–and make history themselves.

For John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, deep wreck diving was more than a sport. Testing themselves against treacherous currents, braving depths that induced hallucinatory effects, navigating through wreckage as perilous as a minefield, they pushed themselves to their limits and beyond, brushing against death more than once in the rusting hulks of sunken ships.

But in the fall of 1991, not even these courageous divers were prepared for what they found 230 feet below the surface, in the frigid Atlantic waters sixty miles off the coast of New Jersey: a World War II German U-boat, its ruined interior a macabre wasteland of twisted metal, tangled wires, and human bones–all buried under decades of accumulated sediment.

No identifying marks were visible on the submarine or the few artifacts brought to the surface. No historian, expert, or government had a clue as to which U-boat the men had found. In fact, the official records all agreed that there simply could not be a sunken U-boat and crew at that location.

Over the next six years, an elite team of divers embarked on a quest to solve the mystery. Some of them would not live to see its end. Chatterton and Kohler, at first bitter rivals, would be drawn into a friendship that deepened to an almost mystical sense of brotherhood with each other and with the drowned U-boat sailors–former enemies of their country. As the men’s marriages frayed under the pressure of a shared obsession, their dives grew more daring, and each realized that he was hunting more than the identities of a lost U-boat and its nameless crew.

Author Robert Kurson’s account of this quest is at once thrilling and emotionally complex, and it is written with a vivid sense of what divers actually experience when they meet the dangers of the ocean’s underworld. The story of Shadow Divers often seems too amazing to be true, but it all happened, two hundred thirty feet down, in the deep blue sea.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Robert Kurson's Pirate Hunters.
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