The Rising Sun

The Rising Sun : Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-45

4.2 (2,935 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Paperback
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Product details

  • Paperback | 1088 pages
  • 120 x 180mm
  • Random House Children's Publishers UK
  • Corgi Childrens
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • Ill.
  • 0552667889
  • 9780552667883

Review Text

Despite the title, this is not a history of the collapse of Japan's empire, but rather a military narrative of the war with the U.S., framed by the diplomatic exchanges which failed to prevent war and a circumstantial account of Japan's 1945 peace attempts as the Americans pressed the decision to use the bomb. The book's two signal features are its empathy for the Japanese military rulers and its manifold, cinematographic detail. The Pacific conflict is rendered with emphasis on the Japanese military ethos: Toland recreated battle talk, the smallest particulars of uniform, the act of hara-kiri; in the fiercely recast fighting scenes, jungle marches, civilian massacres, POW cruelties, no horror is shirked. Toland says all conversations are factual, based on 500-plus interviews of commanders, politicians, enlisted men and prisoners. He thinks that if Prime Minister Konoye had met with FDR in 1941 war might have been avoided: "Both men were gentlemen from honorable families and they could reach an honorable settlement." Indeed, the Emperor himself believed in 1946 that war should have been avoided; "he did everything in his power to do so." All very well to present Japan as other than a nation of maniacal kamikazes: but why did Japan become an imperialist military power, and what were the financial and industrial crises which led first to Manchuria and then to world war? Toland's preoccupation with softening the image of the Japanese military-political leaders allows him to ignore this sort of fundamental question, while obscuring the ordeal of the common people of Japan, not to mention the rest of Asia. No notice is given e.g., to the predatory "ricebowl" campaign of the Kwangtung Army into central China despite the blood-and-gore disposition of the book. Owing to its prodigious detail and graphic narrative, the book will be compared (per the publisher's suggestion) to Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; owing to its historical evasions, the comparison will be invidious; and owing to its military rather than political stress, the comparison is in any case inappropriate. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

2,935 ratings
4.2 out of 5 stars
5 44% (1,292)
4 37% (1,087)
3 15% (442)
2 3% (85)
1 1% (29)
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