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  • Tower of Skulls

  • A History of the Asia-Pacific War, Vol. 1 (July 1937 - May 1942)
  • By: Richard B. Frank
  • Narrated by: L. J. Ganser
  • Length: 26 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An eye-opening, path-breaking account of the onset of the Asia-Pacific War, by the acclaimed author of Downfall and Guadalcanal.

In 1937, the swath of the globe east from India to the Pacific Ocean enclosed half the world’s population, all save a fraction enduring under some form of colonialism. Japan’s onslaught into China that year unleashed a tidal wave of events that fundamentally transformed this region and killed about 25 million people. 

From just two nation states with real sovereignty, Thailand and Japan, and two with compromised sovereignty, China and Mongolia, the region today encompasses at least 19 major sovereign nations. This epic World War II narrative describes in exquisite detail the battles across this entire region and links those struggles on many levels with their profound 21st-century legacies.

Beginning with China’s long-neglected years of heroic, costly resistance, Tower of Skulls explodes outward to campaigns including Singapore, the Philippines, the Netherlands East Indies, India, and Burma, as well as across the Pacific to Pearl Harbor. 

This story casts penetrating light on how struggles in Europe and Asia merged into a tightly entwined global war. It features not just battles, but also the sweeping political, economic, and social effects of the war, and are graced with a rich tapestry of individual characters from top-tier political and military figures down to ordinary servicemen, as well as the accounts of civilians of all races and ages.

Drawing on rich archival research and recently discovered documentary evidence, award-winning historian Richard B. Frank presents the first unified account of this titanic turmoil that gave birth to the world we live in now.

©2020 Richard B. Frank (P)2020 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Tower of Skulls

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    5 out of 5 stars

Eye opening and very balanced

For a conflict that is often mythologised it was enlightening to hear a balanced assessment of the events and characters of the time.
I learned an immense amount, with lots of context, and no sparing of any actors from critical analysis, no matter which ‘side’.

My only disappointment, the next in the series was not available, can’t wait.

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  • Patrick
  • 16-03-2020

Outstanding

Richard Frank has written another outstanding book. He does a great job of blending the war in China, politics in Japan, the prelude to Pearl Harbor, Pearl Harbor attack itself, and the early war in the Pacific. Some controversial images of Chang Kai chem and the Pearl Harbor prelude but great work. And told from the perspective of all major players in the Pacific war. Can’t wait for next in his series. Strongly recommend this book for world war novices and experienced readers

12 people found this helpful

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  • SS71-92
  • 04-06-2020

Great overview with just enough detail

As a junior historian of the Pacific War, I found this book to be well researched, nicely narrated and just containing the right amount of historical minutiae that kept me completely enraptured. I would recommend this book to any serious historian wannabe.

8 people found this helpful

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  • J.Michael Campbell
  • 03-06-2020

Intersection of a deep dive and all round survey

Given the number of pages and volumes devoted by the author my initial expectation was to walk away with a thorough understanding of the early Eastern theater wrapped up in a bow. I guess I really didn't appreciate how much was going on all at the same time, and this book certainly did convey that well enough. So many pots are boiling at the same time and they run out of Quinine tablets in Feb 1942 so now there is more Maleria to consider. The tonnage of supplies. The tonnage of firepower. The location of both. The internecine geopolitics and miscalculations of each side. The book covers such a wide swath with a wide brush and while you feel you could dive deeper into any one of the stories you do come away with an appreciation for how many stories there are and their feedback to each other. I look forward to the remaining volumes.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Gordon
  • 03-07-2020

Loved the Liberation Trilogy? You'll love this!

I've been experiencing a renaissance when it comes to non-fiction. I had heard about Richard Frank's book from Rick Atkinson, and I was not disappointed. Special mention must go to L. J. Ganser, who has the perfect voice for reading non-fiction (he reminds me of a 1930's radio broadcaster). I highly recommend!

6 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 15-06-2020

Lots of information often skipped on TV.

Lots of information often not mentioned for sake of allotted time on TV. Amazing how unprepared for war both UK and U.S. really were. Thankfully, God blessed!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 15-09-2020

Monumental

I learned so much. No better work on the origins of the Pacific War. Simply a monumental work. I cannot wait for Mr. Frank's next volume.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-08-2020

A long overdue re-assessment of the Chinese role

Far too many Western histories of WWII have been tainted by Stilwell via Tuchman and his diaries.

This is a long overdue re-assesment showing the fighting capabilities of the Nationalist army under Chiang Kai Shek.

I look forward to part II and even more to part III as there seem to be no English language histories of the Chinese Civil War despite the huge importance of this event down to the present day where President Xi has committed the PLA to a conquest of Taiwan.

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  • J.Brock
  • 22-01-2021

Amazing Scholarship

Richard B. Frank is creating a masterpiece of a coming trilogy with Volume I of "Tower of Skulls." If the coming books are even half as good as this one is, it will be a truly remarkable trilogy, along the lines of Rick Atkinson's Liberation Trilogy, as at least one reader compared it to already. It truly does merit this comparison. Frank manages to maintain almost zero bias in his writing, but what he does do is something few have done in writing extensively about China and the greater conflict in the Pacific War. Many have written about China and the Pacific War, but within the greater conflict, one can see how important China's role was in the region. He's able to weave this altogether in such a way to create a seamless retelling of the events. It is truly riveting and remarkable.

LJ Ganser is the perfect narrator for this work. Hopefully he will narrate the other volumes. He's that good. WOW. This is not to be missed.

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  • Susan
  • 08-01-2021

Increadibly comprehensive!

well researched and rich in detail. eye-opening tale of China's significant, yet often unreported part in WW2. CANT WAIT TILL NEXT BOOK!

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  • TheMassDebater
  • 09-12-2020

Essential WW2 book

Thoroughly covers the Sino-Japanese War mostly from 1937 on but also before in the first half of the book, and covers the Pacific War from Dec 7, 41 to May 7, 42. Although most information is familiar to those with experience in this area of study, there were several quotes, insights, and annotations that I had not heard previously and make this purchase overall excellent.

2 people found this helpful

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  • mcfontaine
  • 27-08-2020

The first part of a planned trilogy

If this first book is anything to go by, this trilogy could very well become THE telling of the war in the east.

The detail is fantastic and doesn’t resort to just listing facts and figures like many books do these days to pad them out.

Absolutely brilliant.

2 people found this helpful

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