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This is an interesting, sometimes admirable, but frustratingly flawed effort to examine the lead up to the attack on Pearl Harbor from a Japanese perspective. Hotta, born in Tokyo and educated in Japan and the U.S., portrays the dilemma faced by the Japanese government and military in 1941. The war with China had no end in sight and drained Japan of men and limited resources. The political class was divided over the wisdom of territorial expansion, and even the military had its share of doubters, including some who feared the Soviet Union more than the U.S. Even among the military “hawks” there was concern that war with the U.S. was doomed to fail. Unfortunately, Hotta comes close to blaming the victim when she indicts American policy makers for their failure to understand Japan’s views. For example, she condemns U.S. demands that Japan withdraw from China as “high-handed,” as if Japan’s wanton, savage behavior there was acceptable. This is a useful look at the other side of the story, but the fact remains that Japan bears the full responsibility for launching a self-destructive war. --Jay Freeman
“In this focused, informed and persuasive book…Hotta effortlessly returns us to the moment just before the dice were so disastrously rolled. From a perspective little known to Americans, a masterful account of how and why World War II began.” —Kirkus Reviews “A fascinating read for anyone interested in Japan’s involvement in World War II…While scholarly and thoroughly researched, it’s also a highly enjoyable read…A real page turner.” —Library Journal
“In this fast-moving, persuasive account of Japan's road to Pearl Harbor, Eri Hotta describes the pathetic leadership of a country who argue among themselves endlessly when the crisis across the Pacific requires decisive action to preserve the peace. It is a story of self-delusion, irresponsibility, and ignorance from which Japan is not entirely free even today.” —Akira Iriye, author of Pearl Harbor and the Coming of the Pacific WarSee all Editorial Reviews
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