Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45” as Want to Read:
Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  3,503 ratings  ·  224 reviews
With an introduction read by Max Hastings. A companion volume to his best-selling Armageddon, Max Hastings' account of the battle for Japan is a masterful military history.

Featuring the most remarkable cast of commanders the world has ever seen, the dramatic battle for Japan of 1944-45 was acted out across the vast stage of Asia: Imphal and Kohima, Leyte Gulf and Iwo Jima,
Hardcover, 615 pages
Published 2008 by Knopf (first published 2007)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Retribution, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Retribution

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,503 ratings  ·  224 reviews

Sort order
Nov 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
When I was a kid - but a kid who loved history - my mom got me a ticket for a dinner and lecture featuring World War II pilots speaking about their experiences. The thing that struck me then, as it does now, was how hard it was to imagine these old, frail, wrinkled, stooped men as heroes, hale and true. One of these men was Chuck Albury, co-pilot of a B-29 Superfortress called "Bock's Car." On August 9, 1945, shortly after 11:00, Bock's Car dropped a single bomb - Fat Man - from its belly. Fat M ...more
It is perhaps inevitable that an oral historian's honest look at both sides of the fence would penetrate most into a Japanese experience, namely that of a child subjected to non-nuclear bombardment. Yet it's only one of a thousand bright pieces in Hasting's customary mosaic.
Mikey B.
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an engrossing book focusing on the last year of the war with Japan. At times, there is even some sardonic humour.

Mr. Hastings makes a strong case for Japan being at fault for needlessly prolonging the war. Every battle was to be the last and determining one – Saipan, then the Philippines, followed by Iwo Jima then Okinawa. The last one would have been Japan proper, where the Japanese people were to drive the invaders from the homeland. He also cites the kamikaze volunteers, of which ther
Mar 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Hastings has much excellent research to present, though too much of it went into the writing and not enough of it into thinking about humanity in general. He argues for the true historian's creed, to judge the past based only on what those of the past were presented with, not with what we think they should have done, then proceeds to disgrace this creed by making judgments on some of the most controversial aspects of the American defeat of Japan, the fire-bombing of civilians on a mass scale, th ...more
May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Let me start by pointing out that this is not a book dedicated to a detailed study of offensives, battles and orders of battles. This is not this kind of book. Instead, Max Hastings dedicates this volume to a sweeping narrative of the last twelve months or so of Second World War in the Pacific in Asia. By weaving together a mosaic of personal recollections, accounts of key events and descriptions of prominent personalities he somehow manages to present a surprisingly complete, but perhaps even m ...more
Σωτήρης  Αδαμαρέτσος
Ένα βιβλίο που τιμά για άλλη μια φορά την εικόνα των Αγγλων ιστορικών στην χώρα μας! Ένα καταπληκτικό αφηγημα και μια πραγματικά αξιόπιστη ιστορική περιγραφή! Αν κάποιος έχει διαβάσει Ρανσιμαν ή Μπηβορ ή Τονυ Τζαντ (με το μνημειωδες έργο του Postwar) καταλαβαίνει την ιστορική αξία και την αναγνωστικη ποιότητα του έργου... Μετά το Αρμαγεδδων και την περιγραφή του τελευταίου έτους του πολέμου στην Ευρώπη, ο Χαστινγκς αποφασίζει να γράψει κάτι παρόμοιο για το τελευταίο έτος του πολέμου στον... Ειρη ...more
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, world-war-ii
The Sunday Times review quoted on the cover of my copy--"compassionate but unsparing in its judgements"--is about right. Hastings is compassionate towards civilians on both sides whose lives were destroyed by the war, as well as common soldiers on both sides exposed to "the demented culture of bushido" (p. 465); and unsparing in his criticisms of leaders, also on both sides, who showed such contempt for human suffering.

Hastings' account of the last year of the Asia-Pacific War is comprehensive.
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I believe this is the first World War II history I've read that was written by a non-American author. It was a revelation to me. Max Hastings confines himself to the last year of WWII in the Pacific, the campaign against Japan. But when I say "confines," I don't wish to be misleading -- this history is enormous in scope, because Hastings doesn't limit himself to the history most Americans know. He explores the entirety of the final year of the war in the Pacific, from mid-1944 to the war's end i ...more
Nick Black
Feb 20, 2011 rated it liked it
highly idiosyncratic for sure. hastings *hates* douglas macarthur, chiang kai-shek and "bull" halsey (and most japanese people), loves william slim, and (like the rest of us) feels a reverent but dirty awe for "hap" arnold, the same awe one feels regarding jose canseco(**) or kim kardashian(*). great vocabulary, though it's marred by repeated, clustered use of "guesstimate" and gratuitous puns involving "haversack". more deeply scarring are at least a dozen grotesque grammatical errors (they see ...more
This is a remarkable book, worth reading even for those who consider themselves knowledgeable about World War II in the Pacific. It is part strategic overview, part biography of key leaders, part oral history by the soldiers and civilians who lived through it, and part discussion of the decision making processes that led, ultimately, to the use of the atomic bombs. The different parts fit together well, each reinforcing the other in complicated cause and effect sequences.

The suffering was appall
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii
This is a very good analysis of the last year of WWII in the Pacific. Hastings goes into detail about the Burma Campaign, the war in China, the Battle of Leyte, and the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Russian invasion of Manchuria. He balances the narrative by explaining the higher-level view and then quoting from soldiers on what they were experiencing during the battles. My favorite part of the book was his analysis towards the end in which he ...more
Nikola Jankovic
Sjajna, ipak. S obzirom da nas Hastings bez preteranog uvoda, katapultira u poslednju godinu rata na Pacifiku, a da osim najosnovnijih informacija ne blistam baš u poznavanju azijske istorije tridesetih i četrtdestih, ponekad nije bilo najjednostavnije ispratiti likove, geografiju i posledice prethodnih događaja. Međutim, kako sam se približavao kraju ove 30-satne audio epopeje, shvatao sam da je iskusiti istoriju sa ovim autorom, vrhunska stvar.

Autor piše o visokoj politici, bitkama, stotinama
Jan 27, 2014 rated it liked it
“How much bad news will pampered European and American voters take? Not that much, I suspect, in the absence of bombs raining down around their heads, figuratively or literally. We get the political leaders we deserve. Recent evidence suggests that in America, especially, charlatans prosper on the hustings, while good people flinch from exposing themselves to the humiliations and deceits essential to secure public office. Unless or until electorates become more rational, I doubt we shall see lea ...more
Yair Zumaeta Acero
Una obra titánica cortesía del historiador británico Max Hastings dedicado a la Segunda Guerra Mundial, pero centrado exclusivamente en el teatro del Pacífico y específicamente, en los dos últimos años de guerra contra en imperio del Japón. Hastings es un excelente narrador de guerra y provisto de un amplio abanico de fuentes históricas y de testimonios de los protagonistas de todos los bandos (desde soldados norteamericanos pasando por civiles chinos y filipinos, hasta integrantes del ejército ...more
Nov 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Add Bill Slim to my very short list of officers I admire.

The blurb on the jacket of my edition of Nemesis says that the Pacific theatre had the most extraordinary cast of characters and having just finished the book I would have to say I agree. Hastings uses the by-now familiar device of interweaving the stories of ordinary people into the broader context of strategic and political decisions by generals and statesmen. And it works a treat, shining the light on the human consequences of warfare.

Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Género. Historia.

Lo que nos cuenta. Con el subtítulo La derrota del Japón 1944-1945, acercamiento a los dos últimos años de la Segunda Guerra Mundial en el escenario del Pacífico desde las actitudes de los líderes de Japón y los Aliados, en especial los de Norteamérica e incluyendo sus fricciones, y muy interesado en reflejar las condiciones de vida de soldados y civiles en esas zonas de Asia.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:

Feb 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Max Hasting's Armageddon is a bleak, but brilliant history of the last years of the European Theater of World War 2. He has followed up that book with Retribution, a book about the last years of the Pacific Theater. Just as in the first volume, Hastings emphasizes the utter brutality and waste of war as well as providing frank criticism of the failures of leadership.

His biggest target is MacArthur who he blames for many mistakes, perhaps most of all the invasion of the Philippines. This invasion
Nov 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history

For whatever reason my reading of World War II history is heavily weighted towards the European conflict against the Nazis to the neglect of the Pacific theater. Therefore while I can follow the timeline and personalities of the Allied war against Hitler's Germany, the history from Pearl Harbor to Nagasaki and Hiroshima is somewhat of a blur. Retribution chronicles the final twelve months - give or take - of the war against Japan. And just like the author's previous book, Armage
Michael Gerald
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
The first time I made a review of this book years ago, I didn't like it. But upon rereading it and cross-checking with other references, this turns out to be a decent book.
May 18, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii, own
Reads smooth like sunshine. Broad strokes narrative. Adds the touching anecdote. A bit of biography a dint of analysis. History for the lazy chair.
Max Hastings and Antony Beevor have become the doyens of World War II history in the early Twenty-First Century. Retribution is an interesting concept; an overall look at the final twelve months of the entire Eastern War. How to tackle such an immense task is the first question, which Hastings has answered by looking at topics in turn. He begins with the summit held at Hawaii in July 1944 between Nimitz, MacArthur and Roosevelt, where the future of US strategy for the war was confirmed. Hastings ...more
Eric Marcy
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Hastings is frustratingly conservative in his conclusions, which could be surprising to a first-time reader, because he is to be commended for meticulously documenting the suffering of human beings, particularly civilians, caught up in the last year or so of the Pacific theatre. It is puzzling to me that Hastings does such excellent and laudable work as a popular historian documenting the horrifying experiences of individual humans caught up in a titanic struggle (his in-depth documentation of C ...more
Sainath Sunil
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Japan killed as many if not more than what the nazis killed across Europe. Japanese occupation across south east asia was characterised by institutionalised bureacracy and a sense of racial arrogance which knew little parallel. In many ways imperial japan was far more racist and cruel than the nazis, the fact that unlike nuremberg where there was a semblance of an attempt to implicate the war criminals, Japan escaped any such measure. neither was the ruling set up which was the reason for such m ...more
Tim LaVoie
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Max Hastings' Retribution exhaustively chronicles the last year of the Pacific War. History books that take on this broad a topic always run the risk of getting bogged into endless detail rendering the work more of a reference than a readable non-fiction book. Here, Hastings colors the tactical and technical details of troop movements and battles that covered a third of the globe with an impressive array of commentary from belligerents from all sides. Using letters written home during the war, r ...more
Mike Harbert
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: military-history
Max Hastings has written a comprehensive history of the last year of the war against Japan. I thoroughly enjoyed Retribution as I found it well researched, well written, and very readable despite its scope. Hastings provides enough history to put each section in context without getting bogged down in irrelevant detail. Without giving a summary of the book, let me say why I liked it.

1. As a Brit, Hastings challenges the American centric view that normally flavors histories of the Pacific war. He
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I chose this book after reading 'All Hell Let Loose' by Max Hastings. While I've read numerous books on the Second World War, the reading of that book made me realise that I'd missed a huge chapter in the war, let being the Eastern Campaigns, the Pacific, Japan, China and America's involvement.

Therefore I started this book with very limited knowledge of the campaigns in this area. Max Hastings though yet again does an amazing job with his writing, knowledge and detailed research to bring to life
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a very good book for those really interested in the war against Japan. About half is a discussion of the events in 1944 and 1945 and half is quotes from peoples letters, diaries, speeches, etc., that document and vividly bring home the absolute horror of the atrocities committed by the Japanese. This is a very big and detailed book.
The author praises our one good leader in the Pacific, Chester Nimitz, and details the errors of the megalomaniacs General McArthur and Admiral Ernest King wh
Christopher Carbone
Apr 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to know more about the last months of WWII
THis book is a very specific look at the end of WWII, more specifically, the pacific war against Japan. The book does an exceptional job describing what the US was trying to do v. what the Japanese were trying to do. All in all these chapters would have been a great book all on its own.

But the best parts of the book are the lesser known entities of the Pacific theater. The Australians (and their relatively shabby record); the two Chinas (the Nationalists and the Communists) and the British and h
Jan 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
The problem with Retribution is that Hastings seems to believe that "they started it" provides a compelling moral justification for the various types of bad behaviors engaged in by the United States during the war (such as the firebombing of Tokyo). "They started it" may explain the virtual absence of opposition to these sorts of violations of the international norms of warfare and blatant attacks on the civilian population, and it may even be the case that, say, the Rape of Nanking was in some ...more
Emmanuel Gustin
With Nemesis, Max Hastings has contributed a very well written history of the last year of the war, on all fronts where the Japanese were fighting, and by this stage, also certainly losing the war. Deftly mixing grand strategy with personal anecdote, he manages to convey the grim reality of this savage conflict as well as any writer could. Not least of the many merits of this book is the attention that it gives to many secondary, and now forgotten, but often just as bloody fronts. Few people kno ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Cover Needs Added 4 14 Aug 22, 2017 10:44AM  
  • Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire
  • Touched with Fire: The Land War in the South Pacific
  • Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan
  • The Pacific War: 1941-1945
  • Why the Allies Won
  • To Lose a Battle: France 1940
  • Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa
  • The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942-1944
  • Dunkirk: Fight To The Last Man
  • The Road to Stalingrad: Stalin`s War with Germany
  • No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945
  • The Burma Road: The Epic Story of the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II
  • The Ultimate Battle: Okinawa, 1945: The Last Epic Struggle of World War II
  • A War to be Won: Fighting the Second World War
  • It Never Snows in September: The German View of Market-Garden and the Battle of Arnhem, September 1944
  • Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters, 1939-1942
  • Six Armies in Normandy: From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris; June 6 - Aug. 5, 1944
  • The Third Reich at War (The History of the Third Reich, #3)
Sir Max Hugh Macdonald Hastings, FRSL, FRHistS is a British journalist, editor, historian and author. His parents were Macdonald Hastings, a journalist and war correspondent, and Anne Scott-James, sometime editor of Harper's Bazaar.

Hastings was educated at Charterhouse School and University College, Oxford, which he left after a year.After leaving Oxford University, Max Hastings became a foreign c
“dominant feeling of the battlefield is loneliness, gentlemen.” 1 likes
“Looking back later, we could see that the military code was unreasonable. But at that time, we regarded dying for our country as our duty. If men had been allowed to surrender honourably, everybody would have been doing it.” 1 likes
More quotes…