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In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia
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In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  91 ratings  ·  18 reviews
The New York Times said of Ronald H. Spector’s classic account of the American struggle against the Japanese in World War II, “No future book on the Pacific War will be written without paying due tribute to Eagle Against the Sun.” Now Spector has returned with a book that is even more revealing. In the Ruins of Empire chronicles the startling aftermath of this crucial twen ...more
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Published July 8th 2008 by Random House (first published 2007)
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Doug Vanderweide
An exceptionally well-written overview of the three years following the end of World War II in Japanese-occupied Asia.

The major takeaways from this breezy, fascinating history:

-- The United States effectively created most of the Far East trouble it would deal with in later years by simultaneously advocating independence and free elections, and subsequently doing little to promote either. Little, that is, except send mixed messages to the Soviets, Chinese and British, so that they were equally in
...more
Marks54
This book is a focused exercise in history that focuses on a specific situation faced at the end of WWII in East Asia. This situation came about from four developments:

1) Japan surrendered much more quickly after the second atomic bomb at Nagasaki that was expected by the allies;
2) Japan at the time of surrender still maintained a vast empire in Asia staffed by a large army that had not experienced defeat in battle
3) Victorious forces of the US, Britain, USSR, France, and the Netherlands had n
...more
David
Interesting subject. Decent amount of detail. Fairly workmanlike execution. Better structure would have lead to a more interesting read.
Stuart
Highly readable analysis of the immediate post-war dismantling of the Japanese empire. I don't read much military history, and Spector clearly writes from the perspective of, "let's get every play-by-play as detailed as possible." That being said, he doesn't burden the text with logistics and numbers, and this is clearly a popular, not academic, history. Parts are even surprisingly humorous, like when Spector discusses the contrasting personalities of the individual British, French, American, an ...more
Alexander
This book really didn't provide what I was looking for -- though to be fair that's probably more the result of my misplaced expectations than anything else.

I was hoping for a bigger-picture perspective on divvying up the Japanese Empire post WWII: geopolitical trends, tectonic shifts in policy, the aims and means of the Western powers, Communists and nationalists etc. Instead In the Ruins of Empire offers a blow by blow account of literally how the division of territory was handled. In my humble
...more
David
Problematic. I came to this book right after reading Bayly and Harper's brilliant "Forgotten Armies". Which examines the British war in Asia during the second world war...leaving off shortly after the end of the war. This book picks up, pretty much, where the last one left off...and proceeds to the late 40s with some asinine commentary on Iraq and Afganistan thrown in.

It wasn't a, genuinely, bad book but it was mostly narrative historiography with little analysis thrown in...not when compared to
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Liam
Excellent, just as expected. Professor Spector is one of the most brilliant scholars of his generation in the field of Politico/Military History, and this survey of the chaotic political milieux throughout East & South-East Asia at the end of World War II will no doubt become the standard work on the subject within the coming years. Written in such a way as to be valuable & instructive both to specialists and a more general readership, I would recommend this book to anyone with an inter ...more
K. M.
A good attempt at a synthesis with lots of interesting anecdotes worth reading. Sources include a large number of US, British, French, and some Japanese archival docs, as well as others, and a lot of memoirs and other early postwar reminisces some of which are unpublished or took the form of letters to the author.

I can really appreciate how hard it is to bring this all together given the geographic and linguistic scope of the target. It really calls for a collaborative effort, especially in ord
...more
Paul Duggan
An essential follow on to Spector's Eagle Against the Sun, this volume provides a careful narrative of events in East Asia after the surrender of Japan in 1945.

Most histories of this era end abruptly with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and the Japanese surrender. Great events happened in the next three years that have shaped the world in which we live today. Spector does an admirable job of delineating this important time.

I only wish that he had continued past 1948. Perhaps he is even now w
...more
Ed
Spector knows his stuff and presents it well. Describes a situation in which occupying powers failed in postwar East and Southeast Asia because there were no plans for reconstruction and return to civil government. Lots of mass slaughter, sectarian warfare made worse by the failed, poorly thought out policies of the occupying Allied forces.

Some lessons seem impossible to learn.
Dan
Book describes the major post-War political events Southeast Asia, China and Korea from 1945 through 1950, centered around the shift of power from Japanese Army forces to Allied and respective national indigenous forces. Great information thes post war Allied use of Japanese forces to control parts and populations in China, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Cameron
May 28, 2008 Cameron rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History buffs and people who think it may have been imprudent to invade Iraq
This was a fascinating book that covers the history of post-WWII Asia. Written largely to study the results of the occupying forces (European, American and Soviet) of Imperial Japan's colonies, it offers a sobering view of their successes and failures. It also provides an essential background history to the states of modern Asia. Highly recommended.
Terence
Illuminating look at the occupation of Southeast Asia after WW2. As Gomer Pyle might say, "Surprise, surprise, surprise!" -- it wasn't the well organized model that our myths tell us it was. Outside of Japan, where there actually was a post-war occupation plan, it resembled our debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Jerome
Lots of good information here for history buffs and those interested in how things got to be such a mess in S.E. Asia and how we got sucked into that quagmire of politics at the end of WW2 with colonial powers and the people who wanted independence.
Chris
World War II didn't end in Asia after the Japanese surrender. It drug on throughout Southeast Asia and China in all kinds of interesting, complicated, messy and horribly violent ways.
Doug Hauser
Thought it was going to be about the occupation of Japan after the war. Book was really about the aftermath of the war in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Very dry!
☯Bettie☯
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