Matt's Reviews > Warriors of the Rising Sun: A History of the Japanese Military

Warriors of the Rising Sun by Robert B. Edgerton
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Warriors of the Rising Sun is a good topic looking for a focus. Mr. Edgerton is a sociologist and anthropologist so I wasn't looking for an academic history but I was hoping for more than what I read. He focus on the Boxer Rebellion and The Russo-Japanese War which is refreshing but in 100 pages he goes from 1905 to 1945 where he gave five years almost 200 pages. I felt cheated that the rise of the militarists which gives an insight to atrocities was given less than 100 pages when that alone could be the focus of the book. The other feeling I was getting was Edgerton was excusing some atrocities by saying the Allies committed atrocities as well. I'm sure they did but does Edgerton really need to use the excuse of why we looted, raped and destroyed the Pacific Rim was because the Allies did it second? It was a weak apologetic excuse and not acceptable.

Edgerton really needed to decide on a focus because he was all over the historical map.

At first he was trying provide evidence that the Japanese military was humane towards its treatment of prisoners and a shining example of humanity until the US denied any immigration from Japan to the US. If the argument was to show blatant racism in the US then yes at the time the US had racist policies but also in the bigger context the US had isolationist policies which were akin to an ostrich placing its head in the sand. Also the internal policy of immigration does not make the overwhelming cruelty that the Japanese military had in the thirties and the forties. It may have been a piece of the puzzle but not a complete puzzle.

In a larger context the racist attitude from the US and European powers did contribute greatly to a rise of cruelty in the Japanese military. However Edgerton barely scratched at the fact that there was a worldwide economic depression at the time affecting the world and that many groups of people found military life in Japan a comfortable way of living. He barely touches that this group came from underprivileged means and were brutal in trying to achieve greatness like other states around the globe such as Germany and Italy. These are major factors in the growth of the militarists in Japan and with the access to weapons and without oversight these young officers had a coup over a series of events. With unfettered in fact an Absolutist control over the government like an absolute monarch the military could do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. Yet another missed opportunity in the book is the civil war between the Japanese Navy and Army which included assassinations.

Edgerton's book is maybe at best an introduction to the topic but it should not be used as an authoritative text.

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