Pacific Theater Reading List help

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edleland
Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:18 pm

Pacific Theater Reading List help

Post by edleland »

Folks,
 
In preparation for the upcoming Pacific handbook I've been doing a bunch of reading on that theater to try to get myself up to speed. I'm primarily an ETO gamer, so this is a new world and there is a LOT of material to explore here! I'm reasonably well versed in some areas, like the Soviet-Japanese fighting and pre-Pearl Harbor China,  but there are still plenty of knowledge gaps, so thought I'd ask for advice on quality books to plug the gaps. Trying to figure out which books are worthwhile and which are not can be a challenge! Plus most of the official histories I’m using as a baseline date back to the late 1950s and early 1960s, so hopefully there is some updated scholarship out there. I figure this might be useful to others here as well, so will update this post with suggestions. Most of the official histories (all but the UK and Indian) are available online but I’ve left out the URLs to avoid the Spam alarms.
 
Thanks for your help!
Ed  
 
Official Histories
 
U.S. Army Official History
 
STRATEGY AND COMMAND: THE FIRST TWO YEARS
THE FALL OF THE PHILIPPINES
GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE
VICTORY IN PAPUA
CARTWHEEL: THE REDUCTION OF RABAUL
SEIZURE OF THE GILBERTS AND MARSHALLS
CAMPAIGN IN THE MARIANAS
THE APPROACH TO THE PHILIPPINES
LEYTE: THE RETURN TO THE PHILIPPINES
TRIUMPH IN THE PHILIPPINES
OKINAWA: THE LAST BATTLE
STILWELL'S MISSION TO CHINA
STILWELL'S COMMAND PROBLEMS
TIME RUNS OUT IN CBI
 
U.S.M.C. Official History
 
Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal: History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II, vol. 1
Isolation of Rabaul: History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II, vol. 2
Central Pacific Drive: History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II, vol. 3
Western Pacific Operations: History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II, vol. 4
Victory and Occupation: U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II, vol. 5
 
U.K. Official History
 
War Against Japan, Volume 1: The Loss of Singapore, Kirby, S. Woodburn et al. London: HMSO, 1957
War Against Japan, Volume 2: India's Most Dangerous Hour, Kirby, S. Woodburn et al. London: HMSO, 1958
War Against Japan, Volume 3: The Decisive Battles, Kirby, S. Woodburn et al. London: HMSO, 1961
War Against Japan, Volume 4: The Reconquest of Burma, Kirby, S. Woodburn et al. London: HMSO, 1965
War Against Japan, Volume 5: The Surrender of Japan, Kirby, S. Woodburn et al. London: HMSO, 1969
 
Australian Official History
 
Volume IV – The Japanese Thrust (1st edition, 1957)
Volume V – South–West Pacific Area – First Year: Kokoda to Wau (1st edition, 1959)
Volume VI – The New Guinea Offensives (1st edition, 1961)
Volume VII – The Final Campaigns (1st edition, 1963)
 
Canadian Offical History
 
Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, Vol I Six Years of War
 
New Zealand Official History
 
The Pacific
 
Indian Official History
 
Campaigns in South-East Asia, ‪1941‬-42
Retreat from Burma, 1941-1942
The Arakan Operations, 1942-45
The Reconquest of Burma, volume 1: June 1942-June 1944
Reconquest of Burma, volume 2: June 1944-August 1945
Post-War Occupation Forces: Japan and South-East Asia
 
Other Books by Campaign
 
Organization & Equipment
 
Rikugun: Guide to Japanese Ground Forces 1937-1945: Volume 1: Tactical Organization of Imperial Japanese Army & Navy Ground Forces
Rikugun: Guide to Japanese Ground Forces 1937-1945: Volume 2: Weapons of the Imperial Japanese Army & Navy Ground Forces
Kangzhan: Guide to Chinese Ground Forces 1937–45
Japan's Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall
In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army
Rays of the Rising Sun, Volume 1: Japan's Asian Allies 1931-45, China and Manchukuo
Rays of the Rising Sun, Volume 2: Armed Forces of Japan's Asian Allies 1931-45: Burma and India
 

Soviet-Japanese Conflict
 
Nomonhan, 1939: The Red Army's Victory That Shaped World War II
Nomonhan: Japan Against Russia, 1939
The Anatomy of a Small War: The Soviet-Japanese Struggle for Changkufeng/Khasan, 1938
Nomonhan : Japanese-Soviet tactical combat, 1939
August Storm : the Soviet 1945 strategic offensive in Manchuria, 1945
August Storm : Soviet tactical and operational combat in Manchuria, 1945
 

China 1931-41
 
China at War: Triumph and Tragedy in the Emergence of the New China
The Battle for China: Essays on the Military History of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945
Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze
Nanjing 1937: Battle for a Doomed City
War in the Far East: Storm Clouds over the Pacific, 1931–41
Clash of Empires in South China: The Allied Nations' Proxy War with Japan, 1935-1941
STILWELL AND THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE IN CHINA 1911-1945
 

Hong Kong
 
?
 

Malaya & Singapore
 
?
 

Burma 1942
 
Defeat Into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India, 1942-1945
Burma 1942: The Japanese Invasion
 

Fall of the Philippines
 
?
 

Dutch East Indies
 
?
 

Guadalcanal
 
Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle
 

New Guinea
 
Defending the Driniumor : covering force operations in New Guinea, 1944
 

Invasion of the Gilbert & Marshall Islands
 
?
 

India-Burma 1944-45
 
?
 

Marianas and Palaus
 
?
 

Philippines 1944-45
 
?
 

Iwo Jima
 
?
 

Okinawa
 
Japan's Battle of Okinawa, April-June 1945
 

China 1944-45
 
?
 

Borneo 1945
 
?
 

Operation Downfall
 
?
 

Memoirs & Personal Accounts
 
?
 

Films & Other Media
 
The Pacific
‪Flags of our Fathers‬
‪Letters from Iwo Jima‬

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Truscott Trotter
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Location: Tasmania the Southernmost CoC in the world

Re: Pacific Theater Reading List help

Post by Truscott Trotter »

Hi Ed
I have a few that are not on your list
Will dig out the kindle later and see what I can find - esp for HK, Malaya/Singapore and Burma

edleland
Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:18 pm

Re: Pacific Theater Reading List help

Post by edleland »

TT,

Thanks! I’m painting Commonwealth troops for 1941-42 right now so that fits right in with my current focus.

Thanks!
Ed

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Truscott Trotter
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Location: Tasmania the Southernmost CoC in the world

Re: Pacific Theater Reading List help

Post by Truscott Trotter »

Not all those I have recently read but those I found most useful/readable.
I knew very little about WW2 Far East when I started to read up - and most of what I thought I knew was incorrect! :D

Singapore
Singapore: The Japanese Version Col. Masanobu Tsuji (a MUST read)
Singapore - The Battle That Changed The World - James Leasor
The Brave Japanese Kenneth Harrison (The first 1/3)
The Battle For Singapore: The true story of the greatest catastrophe of World War II Peter Thompson
The War Against Japan. Volume I The Loss of Singapore (HMSO - Official HIstory of WWII - Military) Woodburn Kirby (MUST read)

Hong Kong
Battle for Hong Kong, December 1941 Philip Cracknell

Burma
Burma Victory: Imphal and Kohima, March 1944 to May 1945 David Rooney
The War Against Japan Volume IV The Reconquest of Burma (HMSO Official History of World War II) Woodburn Kirby
Fighting Through to Kohima: A Memoir of War in India and Burma Michael Lowry (Good read)
BURMA - WW2 FRONTLINE STORIES Ron Parker (good stuff)
Quartered Safe Out Here George MacDonald Fraser (Great Read)

General
Behind The Myth Of The Jungle Superman: A Tactical Examination Of The Japanese Army’s Centrifugal Offensive, 7 December 1941 To 20 May 1942
Major C. Patrick Howard (a MUST read)
Jungle Warfare: Experiences & Encounters John Cross (Good info)

edleland
Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:18 pm

Re: Pacific Theater Reading List help

Post by edleland »

Thanks!! And headed to Amazon now...

Good find with “Behind The Myth Of The Jungle Superman: A Tactical Examination Of The Japanese Army’s Centrifugal Offensive, 7 December 1941 To 20 May 1942”! I hadn’t thought to go look through the CGSC papers online, but there is some great stuff in there.

Foxhound61
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Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2020 1:48 am

Re: Pacific Theater Reading List help

Post by Foxhound61 »

The following books are recommended for the Kokoda Track campaign and the reduction of the Japanese beachheads on the north coast of Papua at Buna and Gona in 1942 and early 1943.

The Australian Official History is "South-West Pacific Area First Year. Kokoda to Wau" by Dudley McCarthy. This book was first published in 1959 and is now somewhat dated. The author did not have access to the records of ULTRA signals intelligence at the core of the dispute between General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and General Thomas Blamey, Commander in Chief Australian Army on the one hand and the senior Australian officers in New Guinea on the other hand who did not have access to ULTRA intelligence. The book, however, remains a valuable study of the tactical battle on the ground and on the influence of terrain, weather, air support, supply problems and the interference of the senior Allied commanders on operations. This history is available as a digitized copy on the Australian War Memorial website in the Collection section.

"Retreat from Kokoda" by Raymond Paull covers the campaign from the first Japanese landings at Buna and Gona until the end of the Australian withdrawal to Imita Ridge at the southern end of the Kokoda Track. It records some information not available in the other histories of the campaign.

Two books by Lex McAulay are strongly recommended: "Blood and Iron" covering the Kokoda Track campaign and "To the Bitter End" with the destruction of the Japanese beachheads at Buna and Gona at the end of 1942 and early 1943. The author served for some 20 years in the Australian Army mainly in Intelligence postings. His service included three tours of Vietnam. He has personal experience of what he writes and an empathy for the front-line "digger".

Another book strongly recommended is Peter Brune's "Those Ragged Bloody Heroes".

"Kokoda to the Sea" is written by a fighting Infantryman and a veteran of the Australian counter-offensive along the Track and the beachhead fighting - Lt Col Frank Sublet, DSO, MC. This is an interesting account by one who had boots on the ground during the campaign. He served both as a Company Commander and an acting Battalion Commander during the Papuan campaign. He later served as a Battalion Commander in the Ramu Valley campaign in New Guinea in 1943-44.

"Warrior of Kokoda" by Bill Edgar examines the sacking of Brigadier Arnold Potts who commanded the Australian force fighting on the Kokoda Track during the latter stages of the Japanese offensive. He was removed from his command by the Australian Army Commander in Chief General Blamey at the insistence of Gen MacArthur, Supreme Commander South West Pacific Area who was unhappy with Potts' efforts. MacArthur and Blamey were privy to ULTRA intelligence which indicated the Australian force withdrawing before the Japanese was larger than the advancing Japanese force; the Australian commanders on the ground in New Guinea were not. This is an interesting study of one of the incidents in the crises in the Australian Army high command in 1941-43.

"Japanese Army Operations in the South Pacific Area. New Britain and Papuan Campaigns, 1942-43" is an English language translation of relevant sections of two of the volumes of the massive 102 volume Japanese language "official history" of Japan's military involvement in World War II; viz. the "Senshi susho" [ War history series]. This book was published by the Australian War Memorial in 2007. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the Japanese South Seas Force operations in New Britain and Papua. Unfortunately, it does not describe the tactical battle on the ground but rather the orders and directives of the various formation headquarters involved in the campaigns from Imperial General Headquarters in Tokyo down to the Headquarters South Seas Force in Rabaul.

Another Japanese perspective is "The Path of Infinite Sorrow. The Japanese on the Kokoda Track" by Craig Collie and Hajime Marutani. This book provides a more tactical view of the campaign based on the personal accounts and recollections of Japanese veterans, captured soldiers' diaries and Australian Army unit War Diaries.

Note. Digitised copies of Australian Army Commanders' War Diaries for World War I and II are available on the Australian War Memorial website. This includes War Diaries of the units which fought in Papua in 1942-43. Many records, however, are quite sparse due to the nature of the fighting.

Finally, I strongly recommend a revisionist history of the campaign - "The Kokoda Campaign 1942. Myth and Reality" by Peter Williams, published by the Cambridge University Press in 2012. Williams strongly challenges many of the current perceptions held dear by Australians regarding the campaign; e.g. the Japanese greatly outnumbered the Australian force on the Track, the Japanese had an inferior and rudimentary medical system compared to the Australians; the Japanese over-reached themselves because of supply problems and were forced to retreat; the Japanese withdrew because of pressure from the Australian defenders, the Japanese had no information on the conditions of the Kokoda Track before they began their advance along it, inter alia.

All the authors above are Australians except for the extract from the "Senshi susho". The translator is an Australian as is the current writer.

I am a new member of the Forum and this is my first contribution. Hopefully, my next submission will be mercifully shorter.

Foxhound 61

edleland
Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:18 pm

Re: Pacific Theater Reading List help

Post by edleland »

Foxhound 61,

Outstanding! I know very little about the Kokoda Track fighting and this will really help. The more I read on the Pacific Campaigns the more I realize I don’t know.

Thanks!
Ed

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Truscott Trotter
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Location: Tasmania the Southernmost CoC in the world

Re: Pacific Theater Reading List help

Post by Truscott Trotter »

+1 Ed

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