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The Sino-Japanese Conflict

The Sino-Japanese Conflict, extending from 1937 through 1945, remains (at least in English) probably the least illuminated aspect of the global war that we study. Quite a few books detail the American involvement (Chennault, Stilwell, CBI), but very few cover the wider conflict from the perspective of the Chinese and, to a lesser extent, Japanese combatants. Of the few English-language titles offering broader coverage, these are among the most important and/or accessible, especially for studying military operations.

Dorn, Frank. The Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1941: From the Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl Harbor. New York: Macmillan, 1974.

    477 pages
    ISBN 0-02-532200-1

    Acknowledgments; maps; photos; notes; bibliography; index.

    Appendix: OBs listed by campaign.

    The best book in English on military aspects of the SJC. Unfortunately, does not cover the 1942-1945 period.

    Dorn, who was on the staff of the American military attache and later served in the field as advisor to a Chinese army, writes very well about the military operations, analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of each side, and shrewdly describes the leading personalities. This is not a personal memoir, but he leavens the whole thing with brief but revealing episodes from his own experiences during the fighting.

    Good maps. Excellent OB and TOE information.

    Occasionally offered on the used-book market.

Hsiung, James C. and Steven Levine (ed). China's Bitter Victory: The War with Japan, 1937-1945. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1992.
    333 pages
    ISBN 0-87332-708-X

    Preface; contributors; introduction; illustrations; bibliography; chronology; conversion table of personal names; index.

    The chapters in this volume cover the spectrum of China's experience in the conflict with Japan. Somewhat critical of the KMT. A rather broad focus and some emphasis on peripheral issues (such as literature and art during the war). Not the best for military operations, but certainly not the worst.

    Chapters include:
    "China's Wartime Diplomacy" by John W Garver
    "China's Wartime State" by Robert E. Bedeski
    "Contending Political Forces during the War of Resistance" by T'ien-wei Wu
    "The Chinese Communist Movement" by T'ien-wei Wu
    "The CCP's Foreign Policy of Opposition, 1937-1945" by Steven M. Goldstein
    "The Military Dimension, 1937-1941" by Marvin Williamsen
    "The Military Dimension, 1942-1945" by Hsi-sheng Ch'i
    "The Chinese War Economy" by William C. Kirby
    "Science in Wartime China" by James Reardon-Anderson
    "Literature and Art of the War Period" by Edward Gunn
    "Wartime Judicial Reform in China" by Hsia Tao-tai with the assistance of Wendy Zeldin
    "The War and After: World Politics in the Historical Context" by James C. Hsiung

    Still in print and available from the publisher.

Eastman, Lloyd E., Jerone Ch'en, Suzanne Pepper, and Lyman P. Van Slyke. The Nationalist Era in China, 1927-1949. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
    406 pages
    ISBN 0-521-38591-1

    Preface; maps; charts; bibliography; index.

    While this volume encompasses the years 1927-1949, it concentrates on the Sino-Japanese Conflict and includes a great many useful maps, charts, graphs, and tables. Good military, political, and economic information. Altogether a very balanced and useful account.

    Unfortunately, seldom offered.

Hsu Long-hsuen and Chang Ming-kai. History of the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). Taipei, Taiwan: Chung Wu Publishing Company, 1971.
    642 pages (plus maps)

    Preface; photos; maps; charts; OBs; reference books; index.

    This is the one-volume abridgement of the 100-volume official Chinese (KMT) war history, translated into English by Wen Ha-hsiung. Given the massive amounts of military detail present in this single volume, the full version must be something to behold.

    Covers "Political Warfare," "Economic Warfare," "Cultural Warfare," "Sino-US Cooperation," and "Surrender and Demobilization" as well as military operations, the latter forming the heart of the text. This is backed up by dozens of detailed OBs and four-color maps. Also a special section on "An Account of Chinese Communist Sabotage of the War of Resistance."

    Too bad the editorial team seems to have had something of an ideological axe to grind. Catching a few half-truths, oversights, and distortions can tend to make the remainder of the text suspect. Use with care.

    Shows up once in awhile in used book catalogs.

Sapozhnikov, Boris. The China Theater in World War II, 1939-1945. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1985.
    256 pages

    Preface; maps; charts; bibliographic references.

    For an entirely different point of view, this is a refreshing voice. Equally critical of the corrupt and collaborationist KMT, the war-mongering Japanese, the imperialist, manipulative US, and even Mao's somewhat misguided and deviationist CCP. Asserts, for example, that Roosevelt and Churchill were unwilling to commit their resources to sustaining the Chinese war effort until ultimate triumph was assured by the Soviet victory in front of Moscow.

    Emphasis on diplomatic and political aspects of the war. Good economic information. Some detailed military narrative. Very much aimed at placing the SJC in the overall context of global war.

    I've never seen this offered in anyone's catalogs.

Wilson, Dick. When Tigers Fight: The Story of the Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1945. New York: Viking, 1982.
    This is the most commonly available English-language title in the used-book market on the Sino-Japanese Conflict. Unfortunately, it is also the worst. For whatever reason, it's composed largely of information from wartime journalists' reports and written in a manner which makes it appear that the author has not a clue about what's going on.

    Reviewed 16 July 1996


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