Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia” as Want to Read:
In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  219 ratings  ·  30 reviews
The New York Times said of Ronald H. Spectors 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 ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published July 8th 2008 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published July 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 In the Ruins of Empire, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about In the Ruins of Empire

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  219 ratings  ·  30 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia
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 ...more
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
Sep 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the Ruins of Empire offers an overview of the allied occupation of Japans colonial empire following WW2. This is a fascinating topic that tends to be skipped in most tellings of history.

Take Vietnam as an example, most people know that it was a French colony occupied by Japan during WW2 after which the French returned and there was a war, followed by yet another war involving the US. But between the Japanese surrender and the return of the French, the southern part was occupied by Britain
Al Berry
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written book that takes a glimpse at the political/military fighting of the various areas that Japan controlled during World War 2, when Japan suddenly surrendered while still in control of vast swathes of territory a political leadership vacuum was created in Korea, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia this book deals with the various struggles between the various rival groups in the various areas. From the Dutch trying to retake Java to the Nationalists and Communists fighting it out ...more
Stephen Douglas Rowland
A tedious slog.
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
May 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 16, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting subject. Decent amount of detail. Fairly workmanlike execution. Better structure would have lead to a more interesting read.
Kristi Thielen
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I purchased this book with only a cursory glance at the title, expecting it to be about postwar Japan, the American occupation and Douglas MacArthur. That history is somewhat familiar to me.

Instead this is a book about a history very unfamiliar to me and was much more engrossing for that fact. It is a broad-ranging examination of the wars complex, messy, violent aftermath in countries such as Korea, Vietnam, China and Malaya.

The war in Asia was won in summer of 1945; in many countries, the
Haoyan Do
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm glad that I find this book and it is one of the best history books I've ever read. I only wish it is longer, including more of the Chinese Civil War and the Korean War and the Vietnam War, which of course is too much to wish for. I, like most people, only know about these three wars, but not knowing much about the turmoils leading up to the wars. This book gives clear accounts and many details. Still I feel it is not enough and my curiosity has not been fully satisfied.

I've always wanted to
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, asia
This book was very through but a bit dry. Spector analyzes the direct aftermath of World War II in East Asia, particularly the former Japanese Empire. Focuses primarily on American and European attempts and failures to vie for control and peace in postwar Asia. It ends a mere three years after the Japanese surrender which is a bit abrupt as the Chinese Civil War was ongoing and Korean War yet to come. An interesting read on a rather obscure yet rather significant time period and subject.
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A revisionist history of Asia after Japan's surrender, Spector turns the idea that World War II won the peace in Asia. In fact, the end of that war was the beginnning of multiple other smaller wars that continued in Asia for years after. The book examines those small, nation-oriented wars in Vietnam, China, Korea and Indonesia in the three years after the Japanese surrendered.
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Academic analysis of Post War Asia.
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, ...more
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
Skuli Saeland
Er í dálitlum vandræðum með að meta þessa bók.
Annars vegar er hún ágætlega rannsökuð og fjallar vel um ólguna í kjölfar síðari heimsstyrjaldarinnar í rústum japanska heimsveldisins í Asíu.
Hins vegar segir Spector einungis hluta sögunnar og greinir ekki frá því hvers vegna hann fjallar eingungis um sum ríki en sleppir öðrum né finnst mér hann taka saman niðurstöður sínar með fullnægjandi hætti.
Spector greinir frá aðstæðum og ólgu í Kína, Kóreu, Indókína, Malyasíu og Indónesíu við uppgjöf Japana.
Paul Duggan
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an emotionally tough book to get through, since it outlines in starkly graphic terms the further turmoil that continental East Asians faced after fighting off the Japanese Imperialists. The people of that region experienced ongoing upheavals that led to heartbreaking conflicts in Indochina against the French, in Indonesia against the Dutch and British, in Korea against the US, and in China between the Nationalists and the Communists. Recommended to those who want a clear understanding ...more
Talmadge Walker
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Informative and well-written account of east Asia in the months following the close of the Second World War, as the peoples of China, Korea, Vietnam, Malaya and Indonesia tried to organize their societies after the collapse of the Japanese Empire. Complicating their efforts are the activities of former colonial powers as they work to repatriate Japanese national, retrieve prisoners of war, and in some cases revive former colonial empires.
Jul 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, ww2-pacific
In August 1945, the Japanese Empire capitulated after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on two of its cities. They left millions of troops on the field, many of whom had not suffered a defeat in battle. This book vividly describes the aftermath throughout Asia as the allies moved in to facilitate the repatriation of these soldiers and the transition to peace for the countries they were departing.
May 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
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.
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia, japan, china, korea, indonesia
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.
Jul 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read my review here.
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.
Jan 28, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-textbooks
Modern Asia.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus' Marriage to Mary the Magdalene
  • The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised As Freedom
  • The Great Prologue
  • A Distant Mirror:  The Calamitous 14th Century
  • The Korean War: A History
  • 1876
  • Even The Stars Look Lonesome
  • Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression
  • Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography
  • In Defense Of Women
  • The American Language
  • Undaunted Courage: The Pioneering First Mission to Explore America's Wild Frontier
  • Girl Logic: The Genius and the Absurdity
  • Climbing with Mollie
  • Jesus Himself
  • Secret Child
  • Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt
  • Saint Athanasius The Father of Orthodoxy
See similar books…
Professor Spector received his B.A. from Johns Hopkins and his MA and Ph.D. from Yale.
He has served in various government positions and on active duty in the Marine Corps from 1967-1969 and 1983-1984, and was the first civilian to become Director of Naval History and the head of the Naval Historical Center. He has served on the faculties of LSU, Alabama and Princeton and has been a senior

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our lis...
43 likes · 10 comments