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Nemesis – The Battle for Japan 1944-45

By: Max Hastings (588/35739)
Publisher: Harper Collins ISBN: 978-0-00-726816-0

In 1944-45, the war against Japan embraced the most remarkable cast of statesmen and commanders the world has ever seen: Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin, Nimitz, MacArthur, Mountbatten, Slim, LeMay; Chjiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong. The drama which ended in Japan’s utter defeat was acted out across the vast stage of Asia. Battles by land, sea and air extended over millions of square miles: Imphal and Kohima, Leyte Gulf and Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the B-29 fire-bombing offensive against Japan’s cities, the great Soviet assault on Manchuria.

Max Hastings has written Nemesis as a counterpart to Armageddon, his bestselling saga of the 1944-45 struggle for Germany. Once again, he matches the story of command decisions, rivalries and follies with the experiences of British, American Russian, Chinese and Japanese soldiers, sailors and airmen, fighting some of the bloodiest campaigns of the war amid heat, disease, privation and a merciless enemy. He has interviewed extensively in Asia to tell the story of China’s war, which cost at least fifteen million lives and is almost unknown in the West. Modern China’s bitterness towards Japan is rooted in the horrors which Hirohito’s armies inflicted upon the Chinese people between 1931 and 1945.

Australia’s soldiers earned much glory in the early war years – yet almost vanished from the battlefield in 1944-45, because of their country’s bitter internal dissensions, and MacArthur’s refusal to concede them a real role in America’s showdown with Japan. Hastings analyses the decision-making which precipitated the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and concludes that the dropping of the atomic bombs saved many lives.

Nemesis weaves together in brilliant fashion the complex strands of an epic which stretched across a continent and many nations, in three dimensions, embracing some of the most terrible human experiences of the twentieth century.

December 2007


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