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The Wars for Asia, 1911-1949 by S. C. M. Paine (2014-10-09)

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  • S. C. M. Paine(Author)
  • Cambridge University Press (1802)
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  • By Strv 74 on February 24, 2013

    There are thousands of books written about the second world war. Maybe even a million. All aspects of the fighting, the operations and strategy has been described in so many ways that buying a new one almost always just add information to a subject that you have read about so many times before. It used to be that the Eastern Front was a weak area in the literature but after the fall of the Soviet Union that has been changing rapidly.But there is one part of the whole war that has been and continue to be difficult to find good information on and that is the war in China. This huge part of the war is almost impossible to find any good information on. Until now. "The Wars for Asia, 1911 - 1949" by professor S.C.M. Paine is a fantastic book and reading it will open your eyes to a large part of the war that has until now been considered almost like a side-show.Professor Paine writes about operations in China and the area surrounding it. It is a book on the strategic and operational level but it deals with the three important parts of the wars there: The Civil War, The War against Japan and Chinas role in the Global second World war. The Time span 1911 - 1949 is needed to understand it all.I have seldom read a book that so clearly discuss and clarify what must be considered one of the most complicated part of the entire world war. It is not an easy read to follow everything in China and you must concentrate but the rewards are great. I started to take notes after 50 pages since I found so many interesting facts that I simply had to keep them in my files.Not only does the situation in China gets a long overdue treatment but Professor Paine's work on Russia and Japan is extremely well done as well. There are parts of the Russian involvement in this area that came as a complete surprise to me and I am not easily surprised when it comes to that part of the World. How many have heard of the war between China and Russia in 1929 that ran for five months and where the Russians deployed 100 000 men with tanks and bombers?Not only are the presentation of events outstanding but also the analysis that follows. The professor is very clear and few of the participants, on any side, gets a clean record. The Diplomacy of Josef Stalin towards China was at times far better than what he did on the western front. The Unbelievable way the Japanese decision process worked and it's result is an real eye opener. For many Americans it might be a surprise that the Japanese considered the attack on Pearl Harbor as a mere side-show to the real war in China.If you make a list of the 100 most important books to read about the Second World War this one must be on it. If you make a list of just ten this is a very important candidate for that list too. It is that good.

  • By Brock Wood on December 2, 2016

    A little short on analysis and a bit cluttered with piling on of similar facts from different situations at times. Sort of reminded me of The Wealth of Nations at times when it got tedious. The basic idea was laid out once and then supported by example after example. Sometimes too mamy examples!Nevertheless, a solid, very readable account of all sides and players in this fascinating era of history. I learned a lot. The sheer scale of the suffering that many non-Chinese probably know nothing about is mind-boggling. Paine does a great job putting that misery in context.I love the way authors, including Paine at some points, state that "Russia" wanted such and such, or the "United States" preferred this or that outcome. "Russia" and the "United States" are nations made up millions of people. We use the term, "nation", to refer to millions of individuals collectively.Especially for non-democratic nations, such as wartime Japan, Russia, and communist China, we should think not so much of what "Russia" wants but of what Stalin wants; not of what "Japan" wants, but what Tojo, and the other warlords want.Nations are collections of people who led by a few people who actually make the decisions that we then project as the collective desire of entire population. Especially in places like China during its civil war, this was far from the case. Chiang Kai-Shek made decisions for very personal reasons, such revenge on or fear of a rival. These decisions led China, as a nation, in very arbitrary directions because these were personal decisions of one person. Paine does a great job of showing how decisions made by sometimes not very talented people can have long-term comsequences for entire populations.Sometimes, for better or for worse, the die is cast and you can't go back again. She does a great job showing these various decisions, and why the people who made the decisions did what they did. Fascinating personalities and social contexts are explored fully.


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