The journalist, correspondent, editor and historian Max Hastings recreates the horror, tragedy, sorrow, stupidity, courage, inhumanity and fanaticism in the final year of WW2 in the Pacific as the Japanese Empire staring defeat in the face fought on against the Allies until the inevitable came in 1945.
He takes the reader into the corridors of power in Tokyo, Washington, London and Moscow as the fate of millions and the post war global order hung in the balance. We encounter Japanese soldiers who threw themselves into suicidal defences at Iwo Jima, Saipan and Okinawa; kamikaze pilots who flew their planes into US Navy ships during climatic sea battles, and civilians who perished under B29 bombardment and ultimately nuclear attacks at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The exhausting island hopping campaign by the US Marines, the sacrifices of the Chinese Nationalists and Communists, and Commonwealth forces in Burma in the teeth of Japanese resistance is also recounted. Finally the ordeal of POWs and civilians under Japanese desperate to survive as victory and liberation drew near.
Hastings is thoroughly unsentimental, pulls no punches and deconstructs the accumulated mythology about the Pacific Theatre never losing sight of human consequences of grand strategy. Required reading for any student of WW2 history.