Photoshopping Roosevelt out of the history of that epoch shows how lucky we are that he indeed survived to be our president, preparing America to fight and help win World War II. United States Army intelligence was warning him that unless the still-unprepared America entered the war fast, Britain would enjoy at best a one-in-three chance to survive. His book has the effect of refuting the charge that Roosevelt connived for the tragic destruction of American ships at Pearl Harbor in order to shove the nation into a war it would otherwise oppose, but not frontally. If this volume were your only source on the disaster of Dec. Instead the Japanese leadership was a sequestered gaggle of blinkered, hallucinatory, buck-passing incompetents, who finally pushed the vacillating Emperor Hirohito into gambling on war against the United States. Hotta, an Oxford-trained Asia specialist, does an effective job of portraying the almost Keystone Kops-style decision-making in Tokyo; the cumulative effect of her narrative is chilling as we watch it march toward global tragedy despite warning after warning.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Japan by Eri Hotta. Japan Countdown to Infamy by Eri Hotta. A groundbreaking history that considers the attack on Pearl Harbor from the Japanese perspective and is certain to revolutionize how we think of the war in the Pacific.
When Japan launched hostilities against the United States in , argues Eri Hotta, its leaders, in large part, understood they were entering a war they were almost certain to lose. Drawing on material litt A groundbreaking history that considers the attack on Pearl Harbor from the Japanese perspective and is certain to revolutionize how we think of the war in the Pacific. Drawing on material little known to Western readers, and barely explored in depth in Japan itself, Hotta poses an essential question: Why did these men--military men, civilian politicians, diplomats, the emperor--put their country and its citizens so unnecessarily in harm's way?
Introducing us to the doubters, schemers, and would-be patriots who led their nation into this conflagration, Hotta brilliantly shows us a Japan rarely glimpsed--eager to avoid war but fraught with tensions with the West, blinded by reckless militarism couched in traditional notions of pride and honor, tempted by the gambler's dream of scoring the biggest win against impossible odds and nearly escaping disaster before it finally proved inevitable.
In an intimate account of the increasingly heated debates and doomed diplomatic overtures preceding Pearl Harbor, Hotta reveals just how divided Japan's leaders were, right up to and, in fact, beyond their eleventh-hour decision to attack. We see a ruling cadre rich in regional ambition and hubris: many of the same leaders seeking to avoid war with the United States continued to adamantly advocate Asian expansionism, hoping to advance, or at least maintain, the occupation of China that began in , unable to end the second Sino-Japanese War and unwilling to acknowledge Washington's hardening disapproval of their continental incursions.
Even as Japanese diplomats continued to negotiate with the Roosevelt administration, Matsuoka Yosuke, the egomaniacal foreign minister who relished paying court to both Stalin and Hitler, and his facile supporters cemented Japan's place in the fascist alliance with Germany and Italy--unaware or unconcerned that in so doing they destroyed the nation's bona fides with the West. We see a dysfunctional political system in which military leaders reported to both the civilian government and the emperor, creating a structure that facilitated intrigues and stoked a jingoistic rivalry between Japan's army and navy.
Roles are recast and blame reexamined as Hotta analyzes the actions and motivations of the hawks and skeptics among Japan's elite.
Emperor Hirohito and General Hideki Tojo are newly appraised as we discover how the two men fumbled for a way to avoid war before finally acceding to it. Hotta peels back seventy years of historical mythologizing--both Japanese and Western--to expose all-too-human Japanese leaders torn by doubt in the months preceding the attack, more concerned with saving face than saving lives, finally drawn into war as much by incompetence and lack of political will as by bellicosity.
An essential book for any student of the Second World War, this compelling reassessment will forever change the way we remember those days of infamy. Get A Copy. Hardcover , First Edition , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 9. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Japan , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews.
Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Japan Countdown to Infamy. Feb 14, Chin Joo rated it really liked it Shelves: history , ww2. Those who are interested in understanding of the events that led to Japan's fateful decision to attack Pearl Harbor will find this book an important one to read. It is one that is packed with information carefully written in an engaging way to provide great insights into how the Japanese eventually went into war with the US.
What this book does is to show that such a momentous decision was not arrived in a clinical and logical fashion, rather readers of this book would not help noticing how illo Those who are interested in understanding of the events that led to Japan's fateful decision to attack Pearl Harbor will find this book an important one to read. What this book does is to show that such a momentous decision was not arrived in a clinical and logical fashion, rather readers of this book would not help noticing how illogical, convoluted, and even preposterous the decision process was.
It should be stressed that the book's focus is more on the decision process, rather than the decision itself, which as a bad one was a given. That it was a bad decision was not only clear in hindsight, you will see from the book that there were more people including the emperor who believed that it was a bad decision to go to war with the US than those who believed it was right, which only makes it more perplexing.
Representing those who were really pushing for war with the US was the Imperial Army and very vocal too. The rest, represented by the Imperial Navy, successive prime ministers, and other members of the cabinet knew it would be disastrous to go down that road, but as the story developed, the reader gets to see how the strange behaviours among the 'doves' eventually made their own positions untenable, and had to be driven along to war with the US.
The author used the concept of Honne to Tatemae to throw some light on these behaviours. This is the concept of saying something or saying something is a certain way but carrying with it an intended meaning.
In simple terms, the opposite of "calling a spade a spade". The trouble with doing this was that the listener who did not understand this might misinterpret what the speaker was trying to say, but more seriously, as shown in this book, it could be maneuvered by the listener to mean something else totally.
And many a times it was used to good effect by those who advocated war while everyone else looked helplessly at each other, hoping that someone else would find this one small gap to exploit so that they could heap on more doubts and hoped that it snowballed into something big enough for all to decide that war was a bad idea, apparently even the army faction was hoping for that while advocating war p.
Yet they did attempt to find a way out of the situation, initiating many contacts with the US which unfortunately led to nowhere. They attempted to have a summit and when that was not progressing well , Sato Kenryo was quoted in the book saying "What idiots they are in Washington!
If they agreed to meet with Konoe without any conditions, everything would go their way. But for the Japanese leaders, there was no contradictions, they have to keep up the appearance while trying to avert war - Honne to Tatemae. It was written in the academic style and was not so easy to read. This one, Japan , is clearly meant for lay-readers and is therefore much more readable. Unfortunately I think I was spoilt by her earlier book and had hoped that she would repeat that feat.
She did in contents, but she had to avoid going into too much analysis in a book thus positioned. Still I must commend her for being very immaculate, for example she used "U.
The inclusion of the timeline of major events in the book was of great value and the Prologue makes a compelling introduction to the whole book.
These are important people in their own rights but while it has added colour to the book, they were not important to the development of the author's narrative and sometimes came out distracting. The author, being Japanese, has a nuanced understanding of her own culture and therefore was able to explain the behaviours of the Japanese in exceptionally well. Paradoxically it can be misinterpreted as an attempt to excuse their behaviours and so she would sometimes have to illuminate her own attitudes towards them and the war itself by criticising them severely.
I think it is something that she had to do in order for us not to dismiss her too quickly. We read history in the sometimes vain hope of learning from it, so that we do not repeat it. Yet we have to be careful; as illogical and unimaginable as they have behaved in , would we not have done the same? How many of us would really stand up and confront a seemingly stupid idea? Have we not come across situations in which everyone sitting in a meeting knew that a course of action was disastrous but finding everyone quiet, kept to our own counsel?
I certainly have. Somehow the long-term and more severe pain cannot make me suffer the short-term embarrassment. And we will go out of the meeting whispering to each other that the decision taken in the meeting was a wrong one. Everyone suddenly appeared to agree to something opposite of what was agreed upon in the meeting, but no one was really at fault, because "someone" else pushed everyone along.
Pay attention to all the conversations in the meetings in the book, pick a character who disagreed with the war, then ask what you would do if you were him. View all 11 comments. May 31, Mike rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Anyone. Shelves: japanese , history , non-fiction , politics.
When I eventually reached its shores on business trips I found that I enjoyed the people, culture, and land as much as I had the Monsters, Sci-Fi, and Anime.
For the last couple of years I have made pitiful progress in trying to learn a bit of the language. I had some issues with repetition, but overall it is a sober look at a defeated and destroyed nation.
Japan , is not really a counterpoint to that book. While it is true that economic conditions for ordinary people do have some mention, the focus of this book is almost entirely on the powerful and the organizations that wielded influence in the inter-World War period. It is a very well-written and researched book. There are passages that suggest that despite his divine authority, he truly was a figurehead who tried, with all the official methods at his disposal to question and delay the decision to undertake war with the United States and its start.
By themselves, one might be skeptical of these sections, but when combined with the details of the actions of the military and political leadership it seems more credible that the Emperor was not in control of events. The details of this book are fascinating if you have any interest in the mistakes that people and countries make. What one cannot do is debate the specific actions that concerned and irritated the Western Powers and these are fully covered.
The signing of the Tripartite Treaty with Nazi Germany Italy was essentially a non-factor was seen as a heinous act in the West, but regarded as something not so important in the Japanese corridors of power. Later, the invasion even if it was relatively quiet of Northern French Indochina was another highly important point for the West. They thought it was a smart maneuver that would show the international community that they were still major players. They thought it would help them against the encroachment of Russia USSR on their mainland and island possessions.
The Japanese could not sit back and watch the oil embargo slowly diminish their stocks of petroleum during the next years, which would have cut of their ability to supply men and material to the China War and, later, to occupied Indochina. The Japanese could not understand that the West US was not going to yield on certain points that Japan thought it could continue to play out into the future when trying to reach some common understanding.
Even their most seasoned diplomats except at the end were clueless about the true feelings of Roosevelt and the other US leaders.
The March to War
Barak Kushner, E ri H otta. Japan Countdown to Infamy. Why does a small country on the periphery of East Asia believe itself powerful enough not only to struggle on the massive Chinese continent, but also to open an armed front against an arguably much larger military foe? This is essentially the question that Eri Hotta starts with in her compelling book investigating the intricacies of why Japan chose war over peace in
Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy
Look Inside. A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year A groundbreaking history that considers the attack on Pearl Harbor from the Japanese perspective and is certain to revolutionize how we think of the war in the Pacific. When Japan attacked the United States in , its leaders, in large part, understood they were entering a war they were almost certain to lose. Why did they make a decision that was doomed from the start? A groundbreaking history that considers the attack on Pearl Harbor from the Japanese perspective and is certain to revolutionize how we think of the war in the Pacific. When Japan launched hostilities against the United States in , argues Eri Hotta, its leaders, in large part, understood they were entering a war they were almost certain to lose. Emperor Hirohito and General Hideki Tojo are newly appraised as we discover how the two men fumbled for a way to avoid war before finally acceding to it.
Book Review: Japan 1941- Countdown to Infamy
Why did Japan start a war its top leaders knew it had slim to no chance of winning? Japan shows us not only why but how, ushering us much farther inside Japanese decision-making than prior accounts. Eri Hotta injects vivid life into the hugely complicated process, so bound up in the Japanese cultural imperative of consensus and warped by profoundly dysfunctional political and military power structures. We watch the senior leaders as they ratify successive blurred policy agreements that create an ever-increasing inertia toward war. All the while, fanatical junior officers maneuver their supposed superiors via rose-colored projections and staff work that channel discussions toward ever more bellicose military and diplomatic options.
By dallasnews Administrator. World opinion was increasingly hostile. Resources were running out. The economy was in trouble. Even beer was in short supply. Some of those problems seem disturbingly modern, but the year was Almost none thought the war could be won.