Scrupulously researched and bravely presented scholarship.




A series of astute academic essays on the forging of postwar Japan.

The winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award and Bancroft Prize, Dower (History Emeritus/MIT; Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima / 9-11 / Iraq, 2010, etc.) is comfortable going against the grain. He was key to bringing back into print the significant work of forgotten Canadian historian E.H. Norman, whose deep research into the Meiji state revealed the authoritarian, feudal legacies that later helped drag Japan into imperial militarism, misery and defeat. In his essay on Norman, Dower shows how this approach contrasted with the postwar modernization theorists then in vogue, who held that Japan’s militarism was essentially an aberration and hoped to put a positive spin on accomplishments since the Meiji era. Dower was told in 1970, during his time as a student, that his interest in the postwar occupation of Japan was “too recent to be history,” foreshadowing some of the obfuscation he would later encounter. Other essays here, which appeared between 1993 and 2000, are fascinating explorations into Japanese racial theories, intense militaristic and racial propaganda, pervasive sense of “victim consciousness” and eruptions of reactionary language and a faulty sense of responsibility. “The Bombed” is a riveting analysis of the effects of the atomic bombs on the Japanese psyche. Thanks to the collusion of the U.S. government, which aimed for an easy occupation of the country, the Japanese were censored from venting expressions of outrage and grief over their government's rampant militarism and the end-of-war atomic apocalypse. Dower explores the dual role of science as both destroyer and postwar miracle worker, a lesson to be gleaned by both America and postwar Japan in terms of economic growth and military technology.

Scrupulously researched and bravely presented scholarship.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59558-618-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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A proficient overview, though skewed by its British orientation.



Detailed, nuts-and-bolts exploration of the 1948-9 Berlin airlift, first major crisis of the new Cold War.

British military historians Sutherland and Canwell begin at the close of World War II, when the Red Army occupied the decimated, starved city. Germany was divided into four zones after its surrender in May 1945, and the Soviets jealously guarded access to Berlin, which lay within their zone but was divided among all four Allies. Food and fuel were urgently needed for the city’s nearly three million residents, but the Russians did not allow supplies to move through their zone into West Berlin. As Soviet-sponsored communist parties seized power in Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and Czechoslovakia, the Truman Doctrine guaranteed U.S. support for democracies that resisted. When the Marshall Plan for the economic reconstruction of Europe was set forth in July 1947, the Iron Curtain had already fallen, and divided, vulnerable Berlin came under increasingly restrictive Soviet measures. The crisis was precipitated by the introduction on June 21, 1948, of the Deutsche Mark in Berlin’s three Western sectors. In response, the Soviets declared they would no longer supply food to the German civilian population in those sectors. The authors credit British Air Commodore Rex Waite (rather than American General Lucius D. Clay) with drafting the plan for an airlift (dubbed Operation Vittles) to sustain the population and the garrisons. Using three airfields from June 1948 to June 1949, the Western powers airlifted nearly two million tons of food and supplies, effectively undermining the Soviets and keeping West Berliners from starving. The authors make a good use of primary documents to portray the broad political machinations of the time, yet neglect to offer voices from the civilian eyewitnesses. A final chapter, “Legacy of the Airlift,” covers such subsequent events as the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and its dismantling in 1989.

A proficient overview, though skewed by its British orientation.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-58980-550-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Pelican

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2007

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An admirable, warts-and-all history of a milestone in environmental preservation.



The story of a national park might seem a niche subject, but OnEarth magazine editor Black (Casting a Spell: The Bamboo Fly Rod and the American Pursuit of Perfection, 2006, etc.) surrounds it with a colorful, stormy, often-distressing history of our northern mountain states.

The author begins with Lewis and Clark, whose 1804–06 expedition passed nearby but brought back only rumors of odd geological events. The northern Rockies remained a backwater for another half-century. Almost no one but fur traders took an interest for the first 30 years; wagon trains pouring west after 1840 passed well to the south. By the 1850s gold mining and ranching produced settlers, quickly followed by the Army, both anxious to eliminate the Indians. Black provides painful details of 20 years of conflict that accomplished this goal. Lacking gold or good grazing, the Yellowstone area attracted few settlers, but visitors brought back tales of wondrous geysers, boiling springs and breathtaking scenery. In 1869 the small, privately funded Cook-Folsom-Peterson Expedition produced such a tantalizing report that Montana residents organized a large expedition. That expedition spent a month exploring, resulting in a torrent of publicity that led to the federally funded Hayden Geological Survey of 1871. Its enthusiastic report included historical photographs by William Henry Jackson and paintings by Thomas Moran, and the resulting publicity persuaded Congress to create the world’s first national park in 1872. Congress did not, however, provide money, so vandalism, poaching and commercial exploitation flourished until 1886 when the Army moved in. It did not leave until the new National Park Service took over in 1918.

An admirable, warts-and-all history of a milestone in environmental preservation.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-38319-0

Page Count: 576

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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