War in the Pacific
Vol 2: Formidable Foe 1942-43
By Peter Harmsen
Published by Big Sky Publishing
RRP $32.99 in paperback
Author Peter Harmsen brings a rare understanding of Asian culture and history to his writing. He studied history at the National Taiwan University and has been a foreign correspondent in East Asia for more than two decades.
His latest book, War in the Pacific: Formidable Foe – 1942-1943, takes up where his first book in this series, War in the Pacific: Storm approaching 1931-1941 (read review here) left off.
He begins with the shock that the reverberated through Allied forces at the loss of the two British ships, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse in December 1941, leading Winston Churchill to lament: ‘Over all this vast expanse of waters Japan was supreme, and we everywhere were weak and naked.’
‘Over all this vast expanse of waters Japan was supreme, and we everywhere were weak and naked.’
What follows in this engaging narrative is an insight into the astonishing transformation that took place from 1942 to 1943 to set the Allies on a path to final victory against Japan.
The central importance of China is highlighted in a way that no previous general history of the war against Japan has done.
Attitudes to the Chinese Government were a point of difference between Churchill and American president Franklin Roosevelt, who expected the Chinese to become one of the predominant allies in the effort to defeat Japan.
VERDICT: Extensively researched, including Japanese sources, and well written, this book will inevitably garner significant praise for the way in which the author has taken a complex story and distilled it into a digestible and highly readable narrative.