Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

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Robert24
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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Post by Robert24 » 10 Nov 2014 08:00

Forgotten Ally, China's World War II, 1937-1945, Rana Mitter

durb
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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Post by durb » 12 Nov 2014 14:34

sjchan wrote:
sjchan wrote:A couple of new books have been published recently; reviews seem to be good. Wonder if anyone has read them.

China's War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival by Rana Mitter
The book is a good introduction of Sino-Japanese war and worth of reading for those who like me have only superficial knowledge of Sino-Japanese war of 1937-1945. Book helps to understand the stand of Nationalists and Chiang Kai-Shek. It is afterward easy to critize Chiang and point out many of his deficiencies and mistakes, but his task was certainly not the easy one. Mao and his "Yan´an state" is dealt quite well as well as interesting connections between Mao and USA. Mao is represented as a politician who was waiting his time and realised that Sino-Japanese war would actually work for advantage of him. However, Mao is not portrayed as completely evil mastermind (like in some biographies which give rather one dimensional picture on him).

Quite a lot of pages are devoted also to Wang Jingwei, who was perhaps the most famous collaborator with Japanese. He stands as the third Chinese main politician in the book. He was not as important as Chiang and Mao, but nevertheless his puppet regime represented one alternative in Chinese politics, although it turned out to be just a sidetrack of history.

The most important military campaigns are dealt, but the book is not focused in military history as much as it is focused in political background and the description of wartime life in rear. The book has some quite hair raising content when it comes to the role of Western allies of China. A character like general J. Stillwell (´Vinegar Joe`) was actually more damaging than useful for China´s war efforts.

I did find the few maps of book helpful, although not enough detailed and sometimes not correct (Japanese are shown to control cities, which according to book´s text were still in Chinese hands). I would have liked to read more about military campaigns and battles, but for that purpose other military focused and specialised books are better read. But even if your focus is in military history, airwar and such things, the book of Rana Mitter gives some good background on politics and represents the general picture of China-Japan war of 1937-1945.

The book has bibliography for further reading of more specialised volumes.

http://www.amazon.com/Chinas-War-Japan- ... B00AZRDP32

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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Post by keith A » 17 May 2015 16:11

Just a thought but don't buy Forgotten Ally and China's War with Japan. They are the same thing. Buy the cheapest (I prefer hardback). I really enjoyed Rana's writing style. I approached it with a mindset of "Cash-My-Cheque" promoted by Tuchman's work and found myself convinced that Chiang was quite savvy about his own theatre of operations, he was dealing with (and enjoying benefits) of the corruption his regime allowed . Nothing I have read of Stilwell has made him stand out as a great strategist, he is more "p..s and wind than actual an army commander. I am convinced that Slim was a great General, with the credentials to back it up, but Mountbatten had the grasp of reality which would have shamed a Goldfish. He crashed his ship once or twice before the Germans sunk it and made him unemployed. As for his performance in India - blimey - he was the physical embodiment of an enema...The Chindits and Merrills Marauders are brave but less than successful, other than morale-boosting operations...like Spec Ops in general really...tattoos and jumping out of aeroplanes isn't more than exceptional bravery - given than combat is pretty exceptional to start with...sorry for the rant, but it's Sunday, I am making dinner and started on the Cabernet an hour ago...

durb
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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Post by durb » 01 Jun 2015 13:03

Raymond Cheung: Aces of the Republic of China Air Force. Osprey 2015.

Well worth of a look and a good entry-level info on the airwar over China from the Chinese perspective introducing Chinese fighter pilots of Chinese Nationalist/Republican Air Force (ROCAF). Generally a good and well written book with interesting pilot stories with rich variety of photos and colourplates.

The content by main chapters:
Creation of the Republic - the birth of Chinese Air Force in the context of 1920´s and 1930´s
Shanghai and Nanking campaigns - the airwar on the autumn of 1937
Sino-Soviet pact - the Sino-Soviet cooperation in airwar (Polikarpov fighters and the role of Soviet aviators) in 1938 -1939
Chinese-American Aces - American volunteers of ethnically Chinese origin 1937 - 1939
Combined Pursuit Group - more pilots of late 1930´s and the most critical period of 1940-1941
Chinese-American Combined Wing (CACW) - airwar on years 1943 - 1945
+ something on Taiwanese Air Force

The focus in all chapters is on Chinese aviators and their stories - this is not a Flying Tigers/CATF/14th Air Force -book although some American characters and pilots are of course mentioned.

Some negative points: again a bit more precise proof-reading would have been necessary. For example explaining that "I-15III" was Polikarpov I-153 and I-16III was I-16 type 10. About individual and shared air victories: "2.333" air victories would have been better written as 2 1/3 air victories. A pilot called "Mow" is confusingly called also as "Mao". Some names of cities or municipalities could have had their modern name included in parenthesis - like "Hankow" is nowadays integrated in Wuhan. Also the book format has its limitations: there are no maps and no bibliography included.

But for starters a good although slim book on airwar over China from the perspective of Chinese pilots. Recommended.

xiem
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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Post by xiem » 23 Jun 2015 06:58

The following books in Chinese are good.
黎东方《细说抗战》
吴相湘《第二次中日战争》
张宪文《中国抗日战争正面战场》
王辅《日本侵华战争》
冈村宁次《冈村宁次回忆录 》

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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Post by sjchan » 08 Feb 2016 11:14

Not a good selection.

The first two are typical old-school accounts based on the KMT point of view.
The next two represents the better CCP accounts.
The last is a translation from Japanese

For a current, 'revisionist' view, try 重探抗战史 just published and presenting a 'joint' effort by scholars from Japan, Taiwan, and mainland China.

In fact, any account which does not incorporate the insights gleaned from Chiang's diaries can be considered obsolete to a certain extent.

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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Post by sjchan » 08 Feb 2016 11:33

Nanjing 1937: Battle for a Doomed City

Peter Harmsen has followed up his excellent book on the Battle of Shanghai with a worthy sequel.

Won't repeat the accolades in Amazon and elsewhere, but I do want to point out a couple of areas that perhaps can be enhanced.

Even though the author has woven many different sources into a reasonably balanced account, a danger is that he relies heavily on a compendium of Japanese sources collected by the mainland Chinese (the 55 volume "Historical Material Related to the Nanjing Massacre"). While there is no evidence that the Chinese editor of "Historical Material Related to the Nanjing Massacre" has deliberately screened out material contrary to his viewpoints, it is nonetheless a concern.

I do look forward to the next book.

BTW although there has been a lot of excellent work on all aspects of the Sino Japanese War, top quality work (English or Chinese) on the purely military aspects of the various battles are still elusive.

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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Post by YC Chen » 14 Nov 2016 04:09

Armoured Trains: An Illustrated Encyclopaedia 1826-2016 by Paul Malmassari

This is not a book focused on Chinese things. However, I provided most of the information on the chapter on Chinese armored train in this new edition, and with the excellent pictorial collection of the author, I think this would be the best English source on Chinese armored trains available at present.

The Chinese chapter is focused on Warlord Era, Northern Expedition and the Central Plains War in 1920s. But things after that are also covered, through to the end of Chinese armored train troops in 1951.

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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Post by Firebird67 » 19 Nov 2016 19:21

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 https://www.amazon.com/Kangzhan-Chinese ... s=kangzhan

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Robert24
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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Post by Robert24 » 10 Apr 2017 03:24

Firebird67,
Saw your book and picked it up. I just started reading it - great so far. I really am enjoying the detail, like Appendix II, Troops in Early 1937.
Robert

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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Post by Eugen Pinak » 10 Apr 2017 10:36

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 https://www.amazon.com/Kangzhan-Chinese ... s=kangzhan
Excellent book. Thank you very much for your work! It's only drawback - it's too short :)
Actually, there is a real drawback - the book lacks general description of Chinese military machine. Of course, it's not mandatory for the book about Ground forces, but I really wanted to see such description from serious sources.

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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Post by Hama » 10 Apr 2017 17:46

I'd strongly recommend The Last Mongol Prince: The Life and Times of Demchugdongrub 1902-1966 by Sechin Jagchid. This is a biography of Demchugdongrub (Prince De) the leader of the autonomy movement in Inner Mongolia during the 1930s-40s. It discusses his life, the background of political and social situations in Inner Mongolia during the early 20th century, and the rise and fall of the Japanese aligned-state of Mengjiang.

I think it's a topic that is quite underrepresented in western history of China during the Republican era. Reading the book, we find that Prince De was more than just a Japanese puppet as some people try to portray him, and in fact he rejected Japanese advances on several occasions to try negotiating autonomy for his people with the ROC government first. Ultimately, it was the ROC's lack of serious support, the abuses toward Mongol people by regional Chinese warlords, and the Japanese miltiary advance in to Manchuria and Inner Mongolia that forced the hand of Prince De and his fellow Mongol nationalists and pushed them in to the Japanese camp during WW2. Through his life, Demchugdongrub seems to have genuinely held the interests of his people at heart, and was definitely not pro-Imperial Japan by first choice. As a Native-American, I sadly found many parallels in the conditions faced by the Inner Mongolians in China with how my ancestors were treated by the US authorities. It's definitely a story that needs telling.

The book's author, Sechin Jagchid, was actually present during much of the events of the formation of the Mengjiang state, and provides valuable first hand knowledge on the subject as well as referencing contemporary sources and post-war interviews he conducted with members of the autonomy movement. It comes across as very even-handed in it's coverage of the history, showing that neither the Allied Chinese or Axis Japanese governments really had the Mongol's best interests at heart, and the struggle they faced caught in the middle of the Sino-Japanese War.

10/10 on that book. Definitely a unique look at a little known area of WW2.

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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Post by Orwell1984 » 14 Apr 2017 00:51

Image

https://www.amazon.ca/Bitter-Peace-Conf ... wett+china
After years of the civil conflict in China since the fall of the Imperial system in 1911 the victory of the Nationalists in 1928 should have heralded a period of peace. Instead the next nine years were to see wars, revolts and revolutions that took the lives of millions of soldiers and civilians. Although officially at peace, the country was torn apart by foreign invasion, civil war and class conflict that often went unreported. Full-scale war with the Soviet Union and Japan cost China territory and prestige while civil conflict tore Chinese society apart. Clandestine warfare was waged by Japan during the 1920s, which led to an invasion and occupation of Manchuria in 1931. The Nationalist Government waged war on several fronts, fighting the invading Japanese while being obsessed with defeating the Chinese Communists. There were an astounding number of conflicts during this period involving China and many are little known, even to some students of Chinese military history.
Just received my copy. Looks very interesting.

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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Post by Stephen_Rynerson » 17 Apr 2017 18:46

Orwell1984 wrote:https://www.amazon.ca/Bitter-Peace-Conf ... wett+china
After years of the civil conflict in China since the fall of the Imperial system in 1911 the victory of the Nationalists in 1928 should have heralded a period of peace. Instead the next nine years were to see wars, revolts and revolutions that took the lives of millions of soldiers and civilians. Although officially at peace, the country was torn apart by foreign invasion, civil war and class conflict that often went unreported. Full-scale war with the Soviet Union and Japan cost China territory and prestige while civil conflict tore Chinese society apart. Clandestine warfare was waged by Japan during the 1920s, which led to an invasion and occupation of Manchuria in 1931. The Nationalist Government waged war on several fronts, fighting the invading Japanese while being obsessed with defeating the Chinese Communists. There were an astounding number of conflicts during this period involving China and many are little known, even to some students of Chinese military history.
Just received my copy. Looks very interesting.
Any thoughts on whether this is worth picking up if one already owns Jowett's Soldiers of the White Sun and China at War?

Orwell1984
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Re: Recommended reading on China at War 1895-1949

Post by Orwell1984 » 17 Apr 2017 22:56

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.

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