John's Reviews > Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan

Eagle Against the Sun by Ronald H. Spector
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May 23, 2011

it was amazing
Read from May 23 to June 01, 2011

This must receive five stars, as it accomplishes its mission perfectly. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone; if you are not into the history of WWII I see no reason why you would ever read this book. But it is the first book I would recommend to anyone wishing to learn about the Pacific theater of WWII. It appears to cover absolutely everything; it is understandable and quite readable; the chapters are just about the perfect length; and the author does not shy away from his own opinion, so when he believes a commander did something stupid (and he thinks MacArthur was pretty stupid at times) he is up front about it.
This provided me with a lot of detail I never had before, especially about the war in New Guinea and the Philippines. I never knew anything about the war in the Philippines. I watched that whole miniseries "The Pacific" and I don't think they mentioned it once. I had heard of the Bataan Death March, but the fact that the U.S. forces recaptured the islands, amidst massive naval battles and heavy fighting in Manila, I never heard about that. Spector said that Manila saw almost as much damage as Warsaw during the war, which is quite a lot.
I also appreciated Spector's attention to the Japanese point of view: their war plans, strategy, ideals, etc. He has much more information on the Allied side, but he does his best to include as much information on Japan as possible. Too often we act as if the Japanese didn't have a war plan, as if the only plan was to fight to the death. This is not true. The Japanese planned and strategized just as the Americans did, the difference was that the American strategies worked better, and the Americans could improve technology and replace losses much more effectively than the Japanese could.
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