China Sino-Japanese war, 1930’s

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Len Tracey
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Re: China Sino-Japanese war, 1930’s

Post by Len Tracey »

Agreed MLB, I have that book as well. Its a great reference.

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Truscott Trotter
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Re: China Sino-Japanese war, 1930’s

Post by Truscott Trotter »

has anyone read Harmsens other 2 books?
Japan Runs Wild, 1942–1943 (War in the Far East Book 2)
War in the Far East: Storm Clouds over the Pacific, 1931–1941

Also this looked interesting but again have not got round to reading it
Clash of Empires in South China: The Allied Nations' Proxy War with Japan, 1935-1941 (Modern War Studies)
by Franco David Macri

gebhk
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Re: China Sino-Japanese war, 1930’s

Post by gebhk »

FD Macri's book is a detailed analysis of what the 'Western World' did and did not do and why on a macro level. Alas when there is nothing on Chinese platoon, I officer, 31 men, 1 pistol, 3 rifles, a slingshot and a canary in a cage (the last a fabulous titbit in Harmsen's Shanghai book, that as a wargamer and modeller I just love [still looking for a convincing canary-in-a-cage in 1/72 by the way]) I tend to glaze over. So I am probably not the best to comment on this.

Rana Mitter's Forgotten Ally. China's World War II (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013) is also worth a look. Again not really a wargamers book, very much a journalists view. It manages the quite impressive feat of being a book about a World War without discussing any actual fighting. Mainly concentrates on the political machinations of the Chinese and their allies with seemingly non sequitur interjections of what Mrs Chiang wore to a cocktail reception and the trials and tribulations of Mrs Hong who escaped from her village with just the false teeth she stood in to begin a new life as a false leg maker and part time rat catcher in Chongquin (the latter are supposed to illustrate for us poor sods who havn't got the imagination what life might have been like for the folks back home when an implacable and technologically superior enemy is trying to bomb your country back to the stone age). Ho hum, again I'm probably not best suited to commenting on this book.

Ben Lai's Osprey Campaign Nr 309 Shanghai and Nanjing 1937. Massacre on the Yangtze, you all probably know.

A great modellers/wargamers book is Philip Jowett's Images of war. China & Japan at war 1937-1945. Rare photographs from wartime archives (Pen & Sword Books, 2016). It does exactly what it says on the tin!

Angus Konstam's Yangtze River Gunboats 1900-49 (Osprey New Vangtuard - 181; Osprey Publishing 2011) has some relevant stuff if you are of a quirky turn of mind in your wargames....

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edleland
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Re: China Sino-Japanese war, 1930’s

Post by edleland »

MLB wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 11:44 am
This is an excellent selection of essays by historians from US and China, with much recent scholarship. It goes from big picture discussion right down to morale of particular divisions.
https://www.bookdepository.com/Battle-f ... 685&sr=1-1
Another recommendation for this one. I started my China reading with this but think I need to re-read now that I’ve read the other books on this list

edleland
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Re: China Sino-Japanese war, 1930’s

Post by edleland »

Truscott Trotter wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 4:07 am
has anyone read Harmsens other 2 books?
Japan Runs Wild, 1942–1943 (War in the Far East Book 2)
War in the Far East: Storm Clouds over the Pacific, 1931–1941

Also this looked interesting but again have not got round to reading it
Clash of Empires in South China: The Allied Nations' Proxy War with Japan, 1935-1941 (Modern War Studies)
by Franco David Macri
I’m reading War in the Far East right now and it gives a good overview, very similar in tone to his previous books. It does have some details about the early Sino-Japanese fighting that I haven’t seen elsewhere, but at 178 pages before notes/bibliography it’s quite high level. Not a bad intro, but will be interested to compare it to Richard Frank’s Tower of Skulls, which covers similar territory with nearly 4x the page count.

Clash of Empires does a good job of detailing the operational campaigns in China prior to The start of the Pacific war. The author does keep harping on his thesis of “The Commonwealth couldn’t defend Hong Kong and shouldn’t have tried”, but also does a decent job of showing why Hong Kong mattered to the fighting in China

Novista
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Re: China Sino-Japanese war, 1930’s

Post by Novista »

Hhhm got the 2 osprey men at arms books, not overly impressed with the writing, the info, pics, plates are great. Kangzan turned up this morning, what a hefty tome, can’t wait to get down to it. Watch this space...

Len Tracey
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Re: China Sino-Japanese war, 1930’s

Post by Len Tracey »

Hamsen's and Mitter's books are good; I'm re-reading them again as they provide some interesting perspectives on the theatre. Despite some large scale disasters, the Nationalist Chinese Army didn't fight nearly as badly as the Japanese (and some Americans) claim. Likewise, the Communist didn't do nearly as much as they claim they did. Basically, from what I can determine, the communists just survived while the Nationalists did the conventional fighting and bore the brunt of Japanese attacks. It should be noted that when properly trained, equipped and led, the Chinese soldier proved quite capable - just like most nation's soldiers.

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Truscott Trotter
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Re: China Sino-Japanese war, 1930’s

Post by Truscott Trotter »

Yes agreed Len - the main problems were at a political and logistical level not the ordinary soldiers fault at all, mind you I am still not convinced about the 'big swords' even though I have seen the pictures and may well en up modelling them :lol:

gebhk
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Re: China Sino-Japanese war, 1930’s

Post by gebhk »

Len - agree with pretty much all you say. It is, in my opinion, not an unreasonable assumption that the Communists only survived the civil war because of the Japanese invasion and thereafter did very little other than build up their forces for a resumption of 'business as usual' after the war. My private theory is that this is one of the reasons so little is known about the course of WW2 in China - the CPC's contribution to the war effort was less than inspiring and (coupled with a need to make nice with Japan for technology after it came to power), was best forgotten. And without a strong 'commemoration industry' in the home country, there is little chance of the events reaching world consciousness, however significant they were in reality.

In recent years this has begun to change (no doubt due to changing political winds), with the CPC input being given undeserved credit but also, ironically, an appropriation of Kuomingtang effort as their own. This has some , no doubt unintended, benefit for the wargamer. When films are made to glorify the heroic achievements of the CPC, the few relatively tiny skirmishes they did take part in (and which are eminently wargameable) are blown out of all proportion to look like massive victories and given the full epic movie treatment. Great sources of scenario inspiration and equipment/uniform info.

I have little doubt also that the 'final victory' of the communists stemmed directly from the weakening of the Kuomingtang by 8 years of war bleeding them dry plus the inevitable dislike people have after any war for their wartime government - this must have been particularly acute in China given the dreadful suffering of the civilian population at the hands of both the Japanese and their own side (the Henan famine stands out). I agree that the Chinese soldier, when trained and reasonably led, individually fought as well and often better than any other. The main handicap of the Chinese forces, especially at the beginning of the war, was the massive inferiority in artillery (especially if we include bombing aircraft in the equation). In WW2 no amount of skill and courage could overcome this handicap, as the Polish campaign for example, amply demonstrated.

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