This Pulitzer Prize-winning history of World War II chronicles the dramatic rise and fall of the Japanese empire, from the invasion of Manchuria and China to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Told from the Japanese perspective, The Rising Sun is, in the author’s words, "a factual saga of people caught up in the flood of the most overwhelming war of mankind, told as it happened - muddled, ennobling, disgraceful, frustrating, full of paradox."
In weaving together the historical facts and human drama leading up to and culminating in the war in the Pacific, Toland crafts a riveting and unbiased narrative history.
©1970 John Toland (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
I have taken an interest in te Pacific War and have read a few scholarly tomes on the subject. I find most of them when it comes to the Japanese side of the war are still locked in the propaganda of the time and the Japanese are widely seen through a one dimensional stereotype of a "fanatic" and bushido is used way too often to explain their character . This work has changed all that as now for the first time I get a sense of hoe the Japanese viewed themselves, viewed the war, viewed the world. It treats the Japanese as humans while not being "revisionist" or apologetic history. Love this!
I would like to say how interesting & engaging I found this book . There were numerous anecdotes and details that brought the history alive . I particularly found the pre war political intrigues in Japan very informative . My main criticism would be the very brief almost off handed way that he dealt with the fighting in New Guinea . There are also some errors of fact .Tolland stated that Australian troops in New Guinea were under the command of US general Eichelberger , this is incorrect . Australian forces were always under Australian command & were the majority of troops who fought in New Guinea .The fighting on Guadalcanal is shown in great detail but the far deadlier fighting in New Guinea (were your chances of death in battle was far greater ) ,is skipped over or virtually ignored . Take for instance the treatment of the battle of Tenaru River . This is given in great detail , but the far greater battle of Isurava does not even get a mention .I feel that this is a very good book about the American war in the Pacific . It however continues the habit of side lining or ignoring the contribution of the Australian forces who are often referred to as “allies , or MacArthur’s” troops rather as AIF or Australian forces . All in all this is a good read but is weak on the land war for the first 6-8 months of 1942 .
"First rate history"
Wow. You come away from this book feeling like you actually understand what would posses the Japanese to launch into a war they knew that they would lose if it went on very long and why they fought so hard right to the end. If all history books were this good why would you ever read fiction?
Yes. This book gives a fascinating insight to the War in the Pacific from the Japanese perspective.
Perhaps "Brothers, Rivals, Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, and the Partnership That Drove the Allied Conquest in Europe".
No this is a long detailed history and requires one to concentrate to get most out of it.
This is a great history because it does show just how divided Japan was over war in the Pacific. It also shows the nuances of the social changes that were driving Japan prior to 1939.
"A political as well as military history"
I have read a great many books concerning World War II involving both the European as well as Pacific theaters of war and was not very interested in reading another book centered on the Pacific theater. What drew me to the decision to buy this book is that it offered what was rare in the other books I read, the political background of the Japanese involvement in the war.
The Pacific Theater of the war is a sort of neglected step-child of the history books. While there are many very fine books concerning the war in the Pacific, the number is much smaller than those books on the European Theater and those books that do exist mostly concentrate on the battles and the difficulty in fighting a war on such a broad front. What has almost always been missing is the political background explaining how Japan found itself being inexorably drawn into a war with the US when many of its political and military leaders believed Japan could not win such a war, Yamamoto perhaps foremost among them.
I have always believed that the reason for the lack of extensive material covering the Japanese decisions leading to the war was the general lack of familiarity among most readers, myself included, concerning how the Japanese political system worked and the daunting task facing a writer in explaining the intricate and unfamiliar process to the general reader. However Mr Toland, who has written much about World War II, has successfully provided the political background very well in this book. This was not a new task as this book is quite old (first published in 1970) but nonetheless feels fresh and new. While some of the material may have been superseded by more recent scholarship this book is still very worthwhile for anyone interested not only in how the war progressed, but in why the Japanese government took the decisions it did.
The only problem I found with this book is that some of the Japanese names are very similar and it is easy in the Audible version of this book to mistake one for another. One example is mistaking Tojo for Togo and thus failing to grasp the competing war and peace factions in the government.
Tom Weiner does an excellent job in narrating this book and I found it to be both easy to listen to and well worth the time. I recommend this book for those interested in knowing the background of the war, but for those interested only in the tactical and strategic decisions and the battles, there are probably better books about the war in the Pacific.
"The pacific war from inside the Japanese empire"
Comprehensive and compelling history of the war in the pacific from the Japanese empire point of view. This is gripping military as well as political history which seeks to shed light on the motivations of Japanese society and the military clique which led Japan into and through its disastrous policies of aggressive expansionism. It is reminiscent of Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and I would say is a must read for those with an interest in WWII. Toland intersperses the narrative with many first person accounts as well as analysis. Pulls no punches while at the same time offers a nuanced take of events. My only criticism is that the primary focus here is the pacific war against the United States with far lesser detail given to the India, Burma, and China. Nevertheless, I found this a monumental work of history. The narration is very capable and keeps things moving along.
"Long, but never boring"
Compelling, informative, objective
It was told from the perspective of many individuals from many sides.
Had I been reading this book (rather than listening to it), no doubt I would have skimmed over much of the battle passages. As I listened, I never felt the urge to skip or fast forward, for the story as told from many different perspectives was so compelling and offered so much insight into the Japanese culture.
The narration, by John Weiner, was excellent. The book is 42 hours long and I never tired of his voice. He was so convincing that it felt as if he were the author.
No. It was long, and detailed. Something that I'll remember, but not want to revisit.
Surprisingly, I did. I was moved at the end of the book by the Emperor in the final days of the war.
This is a fantastic account of WWII Japan. Spanning the time period from, roughly, the Marco-Polo bridge incident to the occupation of Japan, the narrative is delivered from the Japanese perspective. The book gives accounts, biography and personal antidotes about the major players of Japan in this time period - the Emperor, the Prime Minister, Ambassadors, generals, etc - but is also does the same for common soldiers, civilians, seamen and pilots. The book explores the human, cultural, economic and religious cost of the war and does a good job of explaining thoughts, concepts and motivations that were and are wholly foreign to the western belligerents.
This book is a great read for anyone interested in the eastern pacific as the events relayed in this book cast a long shadow over the future of pacific Asia.
"Great comprehensive history of the Pacific War"
This is the third big book on the Pacific War I have read recently. Ian Toll's first two books (of a planned trilogy), Pacific Crucible and The Conquering Tide, were a magnificent historical account of the war from both sides. So given that this book covers much the same ground, though it was written much earlier, I can't help comparing it with Toll's books, though I think Toland's book is equally good and you will not find it at all repetitive to read both authors.
As thick as this book is, it's only one volume, whereas Ian Toll is writing three whole volumes on the entire war in the Pacific. Thus, while Toll devotes a great deal of attention to the politics and individual political and military leaders on both sides of the conflict, The Rising Sun, as its title indicates, focuses mostly on Japan. Naturally the planning and personalities on the American and British (and later Chinese and Soviet) sides are mentioned, but mostly only inasmuch as they were pitted against their Japanese counterparts.
The bulk of the book covers the war itself, including all the familiar names like Guam, Guadalcanal, Wake Island, Corregidor, Saipan, Okinawa, Iwo Jima. Toland does not neglect the British defense of India, the tragic fate of Force Z, which blundered on ahead to its doom despite lack of air cover and thus heralded in the new reality that air power ruled above all, and the multi-sided war in China in which communists and nationalists were alternately fighting each other and the Japanese, with both sides being courted by the Allies. Any military history will cover the battles, but Toland describes them vividly, especially the first-hand accounts from the men in them - the misery and terror, and also the atrocities, like the Bataan Death March, and the miserable conditions of POWs taken back to Japan
Toland spends only a little time, in the last few chapters, talking about Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the decision leading up to the use of the atomic bomb on Japan. This is another very loaded historical question in which there are people with strong opinions on both sides. Some have argued that the US didn't need to use the bomb - Japan was already negotiating surrender - and that we did for reasons ranging from racism to a desire to demonstrate them as a deterrent to the Soviet Union. Others claim that Japan was fully willing to fight to the last spear-carrying civilian, and that the atomic bombs saved millions of lives on both sides by preventing the need for an invasion.
Entire books have been written about this subject, and Toland, as I said, does not try to dig into it too deeply, but he does represent much of what the Americans and Japanese were thinking and saying at the time. The case he presents would suggest that the truth, unsurprisingly, is somewhere in between.
If you want one volume that covers the entire span of the war against Japan, I think this monumental work by John Toland leaves very little out, and I highly recommend it to WWII historians. However, I also encourage interested readers to then seek out the more recent works by Ian Toll, who devotes more pages to the American commanders as well, and talks about some of the political issues among the Allies that Toland treats more briefly, as well as going into even more detail about individual battles.
"Time well spent for history buffs!"
WWII from inside Japan. I said the same thing for "Red Flag - A History of Communism" - the books fills in much detail and perspective otherwise omitted when we normally encounter this history.
"A proven winner"
John Toland tells the history of the Japanese rise and fall in amazing detail. I learned a lot. This is my 5th book about Pacific War. Best was Pacific Crucible. This was 2d best. The moment Hirohito met with MacArthur was hauntingly good. Rising Sun takes the time to also be funny! Very welcome.
"A rich tapestry"
An expertly interwoven set of narratives which offers the reader a seamless first person account of Japan's role in the Second World War.
"Long but worthy bit of military history"
Slightly hard to follow the characters with a lot of similar but different names but I enjoyed catching a chunk of history I never studied . Well narrated book and a gripping story with more humanity than i had expected. After some time it moves from the character of the Japanese to be a catalogue of the various military engements and that was its only disappointment , I dint really get to know more about what was hapeining or being said by the average man in japan in this period . Not sure ill ever understand the Japanese culture for the glorification of death at the time and I hope the people of modern Japan don't understand it either . General Macarther doesn't come out to favourably either . Good book though and would recommend if you want a broad sweep of this period of Japanese military history
"poor reading of a good book"
the monotone of the reader spoiled this book for me I know Toland's work and the comparison with his Hitler book is very telling Sorry to be so blunt but this reader should find other work
"The stupidity of war"
As a historic piece of work it has plenty of detail. It opens up the political system that shows there was no democracy and the military were the real power and not the Emperor. It shows a different perspective than what we were led to believe.
The poor quality of leadership. It exposes the fundamental failures of the willingness to waste life for no gain other than that of saving face. The pre Pearl Harbour events especially that took place in the parliament were a real eye opener. It appears no one wanted war with the USA and the European powers but didn't know how to stop it happening.
Admirable Yamamoto is an obvious choice as he was the man who took them to war but did warn that he could not give them victory - Tom put Yamamoto into the character of not just the tactician but also the political military man
The Sun that rises, also sets
Exceptional quality and depth. Good as a thorough recap of a near-forgotten story. Almost forgotten in today's world that is so preoccupied with China's rise.
"Excellent Miltary history reference."
Very detailed and accurate. particularly liked the eye witness accounts of Iwo Jima and the atomic bombs. Well narated and an in depth insight from both sides.
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