When Japan attacked the United States in 1941, argues Eri Hotta, its leaders, in large part, understood they were entering a conflict they were bound to lose. Availing herself of rarely consulted material, Hotta poses essential questions overlooked by historians in the seventy years since: Why did these men - military men, civilian politicians, diplomats, the emperor - put their country and its citizens in harm's way? Why did they make a decision that was doomed from the start?
Introducing us to the doubters, bluffers, and schemers who led their nation into this conflagration, Hotta brilliantly shows us a Japan never before glimpsed - eager to avoid war but fraught with tensions with the West, blinded by traditional notions of pride and honor, nearly escaping disaster before it finally proved inevitable.
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The narration was first rate. The writer showed the complex politics of Japan leading up to the war. One of my few complaints was, I believe that the writer tried to show that no one in Japan wanted war and it was a massive misunderstanding and that Japan was trying to be a peaceful nation. That went in direct contrast of what really happen; example, the rape of Nanking, the blatant attack on the Gunboat Panay. The force occupation on indochina, the horrible treatment of the Chinese civilians that was only exceed by Nazis Germany and Stalin's Soviet Russia. But the biggest complaint that I found hard to swallow was that up to August 12, 1941, Japan was trying to do everything to stop the upcoming war. Fact, the Pearl Harbor attack plan was started in 1940. Fact, they Japanese Navy was gathering their combined fleet to attack Pearl Harbor and Singapore and the Phillippines. To say that Japan was only trying to keep world peace is like saying that Hilter had a bad hair day.
That being said, I did find the inter workings of the Japanese government very interesting and also showing that Emperor Hirohito knew or at least was informed of what was happening and did nothing to try to stop it. The public has been told that the Emperor was only a figure head but in reality, he was commander in chief of the military and at anytime he could have stopped it.