This examination counters revisionist claims that the United States led Japan into war in 1941 and that war could have been avoided by the pursuit of a more conciliatory policy on the part of the U.S. It explores why it was necessary for the U.S. to demand unconditional surrender and refutes claims that Japan was a victim of the war. The acquisition of U.S. territory in the Pacific initially began with the annexation of Hawaii and continued with the former possessions of Spain, ceded in the Spanish American War. Nimmo follows this story through the Philippine War, efforts to promote Philippine independence, the Commonwealth era, and finally independence in 1946.
Wood's argument does not depend on signal individual historical events or dramatic accidents. Instead it examines how familiar events could have become more complicated or problematic under different, but nevertheless historically possible, conditions due to changes in the complex interaction of strategic and operational factors over time. Wood concludes that fighting a different war was well within the capacities of imperial Japan. He underscores the fact that the enormous task of achieving total military victory over Japan would have been even more difficult, perhaps too difficult, if the Japanese had waged a different war and the Allies had not fought as skillfully as they did. If Japan had traveled that alternate military road, the outcome of the Pacific War could have differed significantly from that we know so well—and, perhaps a little too complacently, accept.
Japan's imperial regime had volatile ambitions but limited resources, thus encouraging them to unleash a particularly brutal offensive against the peoples of Asia and surrounding ocean islands. Their 1931 to 1945 invasions and policies further added to Asia's pre-war woes, particularly in China, by badly disrupting marginal economies, leading to famines and epidemics. Altogether, the victims of Japan's World War Two aggression took many forms and were massive in number.
Gruhl offers a survey and synthesis of the historical literature and documentation, statistical data, as well as personal interviews and first-hand accounts to provide a comprehensive overview analysis. The sequence of diplomatic and military events leading to Pearl Harbor, as well as those leading to the U.S. decision to drop the atom bomb, are explored here as well as Japan's war crimes and postwar revisionist/apologist views regarding them. This book will be of intense interest to Asian specialists, and those concerned with human rights issues in a historical context.