Reddit Reddit reviews War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War

We found 13 Reddit comments about War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War. Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.

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American History
War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War
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13 Reddit comments about War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War:

u/whatarrives · 14 pointsr/AskReddit

In line with this, that the U.S dropped the Atomic Bombs to stop the USSR from invading Japan. The notion that "they would have fought to the last man" is absolutely a myth.

See this article for a summary of the major arguments. Or read Atomic Diplomacy by Gar Alperovitz.

  • Seeing the situation in Post-war Germany, Americans were loathe to have a North/South Japanese split between American occupied territory and Russian occupied territory.
  • The Japanese had already made attempts to surrender to the USSR.
  • None of the "important concessions" that unconditional surrender entailed had any significance for American reconstruction. (e.g - the Emperor was allowed to remain as head of state, few major Japanese leaders were tried for warcrimes, etc.

    See also: War Without Mercy for ways in which U.S racial ideologies and propaganda shaped the acts that Americans found permissible in the war against the Japanese, namely, that many Americans fully supported wiping Japanese people and culture entirely off the map for a 'final solution' in Asia.
u/EQ2bRpDBQWRk1W · 10 pointsr/politics

Most Americans agreed that the Nazis "were the baddies," but not because of Nazi racism or white supremacy attitudes.

Hitler explicitly talks about America as a role model to emulate. One of the justifications for the treatment of the Jews put forth by Nazis was the treatment of Native Americans and Black Americans in the USA.

White supremacy also has been a major component of allied WWII propaganda against Japan. Not even going into detail about all the racist policies expressed and supported at the time.

Just to give one source for this: Jown W. Dower - "War Without Mercy - Race & Power in the Pacific War"

u/t-o-k-u-m-e-i · 8 pointsr/japan

Well, what era are you interested in?

Hands down, the best English overview of the modern era available is A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present by Andrew Gordon. If you want WWII and after, John Dower's War Without Mercy and Embracing Defeat are good places to start. Chalmers Johnson's MITI and the Japanese Miracle isn't fun reading but does a good job of explaining the post war economic boom.

I don't know of any single volume works that are good overviews of specifically the Edo/Tokugawa period. As far as more focused, intelectual histories go, I'm fond of Ooms' Tokugawa Ideology and Najita's Visions of Virtue in Tokugawa Japan

I have no recommendations for the Muromachi, Kamakura, Heian, Nara or Asuka periods. I don't study them and only know them in passing from survey courses.

Faris's Sacred Texts and Burried Treasures does a good job of teaching the controversy about ancient Japanese history, and the origins of the peoples on the islands.

I'm coming at this as someone who is working on a PhD in modern Japanese history right now, so some of these (Najita, Ooms, Faris, Johnson) might be heavier reading than you're looking for.

u/hashtagpls · 6 pointsr/Sino

Japanese-American relations provide a warning against focusing on racial differences between great powers. As I detail in my 2017 book, during the decades before the Second World War, Japan was — like China today — a rising power that wanted to be recognized as a fully equal member of the great power club. Several crises eventually convinced Japanese elites that they faced an impenetrable racial barrier to acceptance. Many of these involved the treatment of Japanese immigrants. For instance, in 1906, the San Francisco Board of Education decreed that Japanese students would be segregated from white students; in 1913, California prohibited Japanese from owning land in the state; in 1924, the U.S. Congress prohibited Japanese immigration altogether.

Such actions — combined with narratives about the “Yellow Peril” flowing from Western capitals since the late 19th century — made Tokyo anxious enough about racial discrimination in world politics that Japan insisted on including a “racial equality clause” in the League of Nations charter. That effort failed, which underlined Japanese worries that racial prejudice would keep them out of the great power club.

In September 1931, the League of Nations condemned Tokyo’s invasion of the Chinese province of Manchuria. Japan — primed to see Western powers as racially discriminatory — interpreted this as further evidence that the interwar order was rigged against it. This ultimately drove Tokyo to withdraw from the League in 1933 and strengthened hard-liners in ways that made Japanese foreign policy more confrontational — and more dangerous to U.S. interests and allies. The story ended with a war fought especially viciously (on both sides) in part because of the racial animosity that had developed earlier.

Will the United States take the same attitude toward China?

Is American grand strategy going to be explicitly oriented around the idea that China is racially different? If so, another ambitious, rising great power may realistically come to believe that it will face racial discrimination in international politics. This could again contribute to the perception that the international order is fundamentally unjust and won’t make a place for Chinese ambitions. That could empower Chinese hard-liners who favor a more confrontational foreign policy than Beijing has so far pursued.

[Beijing is becoming more assertive. That may change U.S.-China relations.]

But there’s a difference between then and now. In the early 20th century, U.S. presidentsdiscouraged California and Congress from taking actions that treated the Japanese as racially inferior — specifically because they worried about what these would do to Japanese-American relations. Theodore Roosevelt opposed San Francisco’s segregation policy and called its backers “infernal fools.” William Howard Taft successfully persuaded California not to pass the Alien Land Law during his term, and Woodrow Wilson opposed its passage in 1913. Calvin Coolidge objected to the 1924 Immigration Act (though he ultimately signed it).

By contrast, the Trump administration is intentionally signaling that China is racially “other” so it can treat Beijing as an exceptional threat — warranting an exceptionally robust response.

This is not the first time that China has been identified as an outside “civilization” in a way that encouraged other powers to treat it as legitimate prey. European powers (and, at times, the United States and later Japan) treated China as not fully “civilized” from the second half of the 19th century through the first half of the 20th, effectively carving it into a collection of spheres of influence during what the Chinese call the “century of humiliation.”

[Why it's so hard for the U.S. to have a coherent China policy]

That experience remains important in China. The combination of a rising power sensitive about having been treated as beyond the pale of “civilization” and an established power that actively promotes that view could be dangerous.

Steven Ward (@Steven_m_ward) is an assistant professor in the government department at Cornell University and the author of Status and the Challenge of Rising Powers (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

u/Richard_Sauce · 4 pointsr/Documentaries

Many of those figures were exaggerated and fabricated after the war, as historians have known for around fifty years.

Even the pre-war figures were also based on faulty, often racist assumptions, about the unwavering tenacity and fanaticism of the Japanese population, in which they argued that much of the civilian population would either fight invaders with their bare hands, or commit suicide rather than be conquered.

Both left out the fact that eight straight years of war, and being completely cut off from their empire in the last year, the Japanese were only months away from being completely without the resources, gasoline/oil/rubber/steel etc... necessary to continue the war. A fact which was not unknown to us, nor does it mention that Japanese were seeking conditional surrender for months before we dropped the bomb.

Edit: For further reading on the topic, I would recommend John Dower's War without Mercy, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa's Racing the Enemy, Gar Alperovitz's Atomic Diplomacy and The Decision to use the Atomic Bomb

u/mancake · 3 pointsr/AskHistorians

This book by John Dower describes American anti-Japanese propaganda in some depth and includes lots of good visual examples.

Someone already pointed you to Why We Fight. Another interesting one to watch that focuses more on the Pacific War is Know your Enemy, Japan

u/Smoke_Me_When_i_Die · 3 pointsr/HistoryPorn

Sure! I recommend:

I Saw Tokyo Burning by Robert Guillain, a Frenchman who lived in Japan throughout the war.

War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War, another one by John Dower.

Retribution by Max Hastings

Japan at War: an Oral History by Haruko and Theodore Cook

u/Mister_Donut · 3 pointsr/AskHistorians

Read War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War by John Dower for specifics here. "Scientific racism" was very much en vogue around the world, including in Japan, and various misguided theories of race led all sides in the war to make massive blunders. For example, the British believed that the Japanese had poor vision and no night vision in particular. (Because of their slanty narrow eyes or something) This made them bad pilots who would certainly never attack at night. Of course, in reality the Japanese pilots, especially early in the war, were incredibly skilled, but decisions like that of the British command in Singapore to leave their headquarters lit up like a bonfire at night (you know, cause the Japanese can't see at night) helped them out a bit, too.

u/amaxen · 2 pointsr/history

One viewpoint that's popular and I sort of agree/disagree with is that the war was extremely racist on both sides - Dower's War without Mercy goes over this and then the reconstruction and asserts that the racial stereotyping actually played into reconciliation very neatly. Seems a little too 'just so' to me. But it's an interesting book.

u/ordersponge · 2 pointsr/AskHistorians

I took a number of classes on modern Japanese history in the course of getting my BA, and I've got a couple of books that might fit the bill, at least from a socio-political perspective:

The People's Emperor was actually written by one of my professors, and deals with the political transition from an effective military dictatorship to an American-style representative system in the late 1940s-early 1950s. Word of warning: the book is quite scholarly and, although it's intellectually fascinating, isn't exactly a page-turner.

Toshie is a biography of a woman who grew up in the mid-20th century and dealt with the war as a child. Parts of the book discuss her personal perspective on the changes (and lack of change) after the end of the war.

War Without Mercy is actually mostly about racism in World War II on the part of both American and Japanese. Parts of the books deal with elements of Japanese racism that actually made defeat in the war easier to stomach, psychologically. It's only tangentially related to your question but it was a real eye-opener for me and I pimp it wherever possible.

Hope that helps!

Edit: formatting fail.

u/SonOfSlam · 1 pointr/HistoryPorn

A very, very good book on that subject is War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War . It looks at what happens when two racist cultures who view their enemy as subhuman get involved in a brutal war.

u/Gold_Leaf_Initiative · 1 pointr/todayilearned

How does this brutal reality elude me? This book is a very eye opening expose on the subject. It's only about 700 pages.

Never assume you know the extent of what somebody else knows.

u/borahorzagobuchol · 0 pointsr/todayilearned

TIL that people take information found in shoddily written wikipedia articles as fact and don't even portray that information as it was presented in the article.

There is no denying that the Japanese were involved in huge atrocities during World War II, but we can't just start throwing around numbers and misleading comparisons. The exact quote that this claim is being based on is written as such:

>"The Germans killed six million Jews and 20 million Russians [i.e. Soviet citizens]; the Japanese slaughtered as many as 30 million Filipinos, Malays, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Indonesians and Burmese, at least 23 million of them ethnic Chinese."

Please note that the language is "as many as", a qualifier that sets a maximum limit rather than an accurate quantity. So, where do we find the serious scholarly work where Chalmers Johnson, a professor emeritus at the University of California, wrote this claim? Ah, a book review. No sources cited, no peer-review, no methodology referenced.

So how many Chinese died during the Second Sino-Japanese War? Lots of different estimates and they are all estimates because no accurate accounting is available, in no small part because millions of Chinese were already dying in famines and millions more as a result of a civil war before, during and after the war with Japan. It therefore is important to emphasize that those who died in China during this time were not necessarily killed directly or indirectly by the Japanese, though plenty of them certainly were. Here are a few estimates from scholars:

20 million - Professor Duncan Anderson, BBC history article, no citations

10 million - Rudolph Rummel, Political Science professor - detailed published methodology though Rummel has been accused of inflating democide figures in some cases

10 million(upper limit) - John Dower, History Professor, War Without Mercy (1986)

So even the highest number here tops out at 20 million, 3 million fewer than the "least" number of ethnic Chinese that Johnson claims.

The official Chinese statistics claim around 20 million, while the Taiwanese claim fewer than 10 million. To sum it all up, the Japanese killed a lot of people during WWII and did a lot of mean, nasty, horrible things. We don't really know how many died as a result of their aggressive war, but the numbers are huge and comparisons with the Nazis are probably meaningless.