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What are good history books covering Japanese militarism in the first half of the 20th century?
January 16, 2012 8:36 PM   Subscribe

What are good history books covering Japanese militarism in the first half of the 20th century?

More specifically, books covering the first and second Sino-Japanese wars.
posted by jeremias to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I suspect this might have been your first port of call, but Iris Chang's 'The Rape of Nanking' explores this theme in depth throughout.
posted by Zé Pequeno at 9:05 PM on January 16, 2012


Chang's book covers the Rape of Nanking, and that's it. She also was mentally ill, she was not a historian, and she had an ax to grind (obviously), so the book suffers as a result.

Anyway, John Dower's scholarship is a great place to start.

Hirohito and the making of modern Japan is pretty famous.

I haven't read it, but Hirohito and war: imperial tradition and military decision making in prewar Japan looks interesting, and is available as an eBook.

I haven't read it either, but Militarization and Demilitarization in Contemporary Japan looks pretty interesting, although it is getting a little long in the tooth by historical standards - it was published in the mid-90s - as has much of the historical literature on Japan, period (people haven't liked to study it seriously since the Bubble burst 20 years ago, and it's also more difficult to line up teaching jobs in academia if you have a Japanese focus).

For oral histories, the excellent Japan at War: an Oral History is well worth reading.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:25 PM on January 16, 2012


Soldiers of the Sun is the best book about that I've ever read.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:32 PM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I keep meaning to read Zen at War, which is about the role of Buddhism in promoting Japanese militarism.
posted by zachawry at 10:35 PM on January 16, 2012


I've never read Zen at War (this is a great reminder) but I am friends with a zen monk in Japan who absolutely loathes the book. So it is probably worth reading.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:37 PM on January 16, 2012


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