Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Discussions on all aspects of China, from the beginning of the First Sino-Japanese War till the end of the Chinese Civil War. Hosted by YC Chen.
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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Postby Stephen_Rynerson » 18 Apr 2017 05:58

Orwell1984 wrote:
Stephen_Rynerson wrote:Any thoughts on whether this is worth picking up if one already owns Jowett's Soldiers of the White Sun and China at War?

I have both those other titles as well and after looking through this new book, I think it's a worthwhile purchase as well as it looks indepth at some earlier conflict.
Some sample chapter headings "Crush them all in a single blow"; The central plains war of 1929; "The forbidden province"; Jehol 1933; War in the Western provinces 1928-37; Iron determination: The Suiyan Campaign 1936-7

All in all looks like it was a good purchase.

Thanks for the prompt response! I'll definitely take a closer look at it.

keith A
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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Postby keith A » 04 May 2017 12:19

Ok Firebird67. I just saw your title and after a brief look through Amazons "look inside" it looks "the bizness" :) The reviews on Amazon and here on this forum are very favourable so I have parted with my hard-earned cash it's on it's way to me. I am looking forward to it. The Chinese army in WW2 needs a lot more coverage in English. My last purchase was "Famine, sword and fire", which I enjoyed but was disappointed that many of the photographs were distorted film images.



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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Postby Hendryk » 29 May 2017 18:12

Firebird67 wrote:At the risk of being incredibly gauche, I would like to mention my recently-published book on Chinese ground forces 1937-45. It is a sort of companion to my work on Japanese ground forces.

You can look at it at

I've purchased your book and found it extremely informative. The visual documentation is particularly thorough. Impressive job! :thumbsup:

If I may offer a tiny bit of constructive criticism: should there be a second edition, make sure to give the Pinyin words an extra layer of proofreading. But really, that's just me splitting hairs.

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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Postby north2014 » 19 Jun 2017 04:55

The 1929 Sino-Soviet War: The War Nobody Knew - by Michael Walker

Of course, persons on this forum knew about it, because there is a discussion topic on this war. This just published book is currently the one and only treatise on this subject in English, and as such is groundbreaking and is important. It is written mainly from the Chinese point of view. The 18 page bibliography includes sources in English, Russian and Chinese. Oddly, the Chinese names are in Wade-Giles but there a Pinyin conversion chart. The author has a military background and authoritatively discusses the military developments, failures and successes of both sides. The main shortcoming noted is the dearth of maps. There are a few, but none where military engagements are discussed. It is difficult to mentally keep keep track which side is which when XX Regiment is engaged with YY Brigade at some area near an obscure little village. Maps showing the dispositions of the military units on both sides would have made the text much easier to follow. There are no photographs, which would have been nice but not really necessary to follow the book. There is a list of internet sites for some photographs. Controversy concerning the Chinese Eastern Railway sparked the war, and there is a lengthy background of the railway and the disagreements it fostered. There is a discussion of the Chinese warlord era armies. Finally, the military disaster suffered by China in this war may help explain why the Japanese Kwantung Army was tempted to invade the Three Eastern Provinces (Manchuria), and Chiang Kai-shek was unwilling to take on another major foreign power when Japan did just that a couple years later. He knew China was not yet ready for such a task.

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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Postby north2014 » 24 Jun 2017 07:56

Addendum re: The 1929 Sino-Soviet War: The War Nobody Knew - by Michael Walker

The failure of the Chinese forces would be ascribed to the generals, misjudgement by some and lack of good leadership by one. The author repeatedly makes a point of the toughness of the Chinese soldiers and quality of the junior officers. The Chinese forces beat off all the raids, probes and sabotage incidents during the summer of 1929. They did not expect a major offensive when winter weather came late in the year. The Warlord Wars technically just ended in 1928 and there was scant time to reorganize and unify the warlord armies into a national force. The Soviets, on the other hand, had a few years since the end of their Civil War to restructure and improve their army. The Soviets were also developing a very advanced military doctrine. They had a significant numerical advantage in artillery and aircraft. The orders of battle presented in the book would indicate that the Soviets probably also had superior numbers overall. This is counter to the usual Soviet histories which claim the Soviets were outnumbered. (For instance, Chinese forces are often reported as totaling 100,000, but there was only an equivalent of one division each in the Western, Northern and Eastern fronts actually facing the Soviets - perhaps 10,000 troops each). The Soviet leader, Stalin, gathered some of the best Russian generals from the Russian Civil War for the offensive, and the Soviets held the military initiative. The author emphasizes that this conflict was a war. The Soviets minimized the conflict, claiming only minor incidents, and this served to paralyze the League of Nations which mainly wanted to believe it so as to do nothing. The true extent of the Soviet casualties was secret and will probably never be known. The author submits that the Soviets' minimization of the conflict wrongly became the accepted view among historians. Consequences of this war: stimulation of Soviet and Japanese imperialism and the road to WW2.

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