China's War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival
Author: Mitter Rana
Different countries give different opening dates for the Second World War, but the most compelling might be 1937, when the 'Marco Polo Bridge Incident' plunged China into a conflict of extraordinary duration and ferocity with Japan - a war which resulted in many millions of deaths and completely reshaped East Asia.
With great vividness and narrative drive Rana Mitter's new book draws on a huge range of new sources to recreate China's horrifying experience of conflict. He writes both about the major leaders (Chiang Kai-shek, Mao Zedong and the collaborator Wang Jingwei) and about the ordinary people swept up in nightmarish times. The picture he gives of the struggle departs from convention by showing the huge significance of the Chinese role in the war, and is filled with the voices of those involved in the fighting. The most infamous traumas of the war are all here-from the massacre at Nanjing, the terror bombing of the wartime capital at Chongqing and the terrible famine in Henan province - but also the remarkable Chinese campaigns at Taierzhuang, Wuhan, and Changsha, which should be much more widely understand as central to the story of the Second World War. It also changes our conception of the wartime relationship between Britain, America and China, showing how allied in-fighting paved the way for a Communist victory after the war.
Above all, this is a story of extraordinary resistance - of a grim Chinese determination not to be defeated and of the four years when China took on the entire military power of the Japanese Empire alone and almost unaided. It was only with Tokyo's disastrous decision to attack Pearl Harbor that China suddenly found itself with powerful allies - but even then it took a further four years of ferocious occupation before the dropping of the atomic bombs forced Japan's surrender.
Mitter puts China's role in this epic conflict at the heart of our understanding of the Second World War - a conflict which continues profoundly to shape China's view of itself and of its neighbours. For those wanting to get to grips with either the history of East Asia or the tensions of international relations in the Asia-Pacific today, the story this book tells is essential reading.
Praise for Rana Mitter's A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle with the Modern World
'Mitter paints wonderful pen-portraits . . . raises such big questions and does so in such strikingly good prose.' Sunday Times
'An enviably good book . . . a compelling story with a compelling plot . . . masterly . . . beautifully written.' Times Higher Education Supplement
'A brave book of original ideas sketched onto a huge canvas . . . a luminous and original study, written in a lively style, which will serve for years as an outstanding introduction to its subject.' History Today
'Impressive and inventively researched.' Financial Times
'Detailed and ambitious . . . vivid and sad.' Japan Today