What Were They Thinking: A Fresh Look at Japan at War, 1941-45
Author: John D. Beatty
Publisher: lulu.com (2009)
Binding: Paperback, 188 pages
The military leadership of Japan, dominated by the ages-old clans of the samurai class, embarked on a war in 1941 believing that the Americans and British wouldn't fight, but they also knew that Japan could not win a prolonged war. If the West didn't quit, well, the Japanese had no contingency for that. So why did Japan start a war at all? This and other questions are addressed in this new book. Other topics include: With a few exceptions, the Japanese Army was not well equipped, but was trained to attack even if the situation was hopeless; the Japanese Navy was never adequate to the task required of it in the Pacific War and the merchant fleet was even wors; the Japanese air forces suffered from acute shortages throughout the conflict that were often the result of their industrial shortcomings. Beatty and Rochwerger discuss these and many other issues in this provocative and imaginative inquiry into Japan in World War II. Photos, index.
The authors have written a book that that will definitely encourage history buffs and scholars to investigate more deeply the “why” of Japans reason for engaging in war.
Japan, still at this stage was controlled by the Samurai though ruled by the living god emperor. The authors present numerous facts as to preparation, weapons, tactics and the mental approach all males were indoctrinated into. It is difficult for the western mind to understand why the Japanese soldier did what he did even in the face of what a westerner would call sure senseless defeat. Understanding the concept of Bushido would help but simply put death and life were the same, the Samurai and the forces they wielded believed they would succeed, that every setback could be turned to an advantage.
Amazingly it is easy to conclude from the reading that Japans greatest victory was its defeat. The Japan of today could not have happened if the back of the Samurai had not been broken. I encourage the reader to investigate more deeply this amazing country and the changes that have occurred to it since 1945.
Reviewed by: jim greenwald (August 2011)