Review: Allies of a Kind

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Andy H
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Review: Allies of a Kind

Post by Andy H » 10 Jan 2013 14:49

Allies of a Kind: The United States, Britain, and the War Against Japan, 1941-1945 by Christopher Thorne.
Published by Oxford University Press, 1978. ISBN01928550857

History is and can be cruel not only to those who participated in the actual events, but also for those that tried to record and re-tell it through publications such as this. Christopher Thorne's name will not readily fall from the lips of those interested in this specific era or genre, but from this work alone, his name should be the first among the many. This book has sat upon my shelf for nigh on 20yrs, never fully read, just dipped into from time to time, past over by more 'modern' tomes from other more popular authors. Well more fool me for letting it sit there marking the passage of time with its ever yellowing pages. For inside you will not come across a more lucid, analytically fair, balanced or enjoyable read on the subject matter than this!

The research is exhaustive, even more so in a modern context given that it was written and compiled prior to the dawning of the internet and instant communications etc.

The book focus's on the specific relationship of the UK & USA in relation to the prosecution of the war against Japan, the broader strategy in SE Asia & more importantly China/India and the whole perception (often false) of each Allies reasoning and end game in theatre.

Within the 6 parts and 32 chapters Thorne skilfully guides the reader through the often shifting sands of power, duplicity and downright fear that the Allies endured both prior to WW2 itself, Pearl Harbour and beyond. The racial aspect of the war isn't shirked from, but is discussed without resorting to cheap shots at those responsible; the context is always presented in a non-biased real time manner, without resorting to hindsight opinion. We see how the balance of power between the Allies shifted to the US, the diplomatic mistakes and naivety worn brazenly by both as they tried to come to terms with the power shift. The crucial and complicated role of Australia/New Zealand within an old alliance with UK and the new with the US is eloquently announced through the authors writing. China's role, and the differing views take by the Allies as to how, what and where they could be of help is particularly insightful, especially given China's modern place in the world. Behind all of this we have the slow demise of British Empire and the rise of the American, economically, politically and obviously militarily. These seismic events and consequences live with us today, and still shape both Governmental and Public policy & attitudes not only in the region but between the various peoples.

This book isn't a book about specific battles in detail but about how and why certain campaigns, strategies and battles were fought, both on and off the field of combat.

Awarded the Bancroft Prize in 1979, the Bancroft is considered to be among the most prestigious awards in the field of American history writing. Such is the pedigree of this book.

The book is sadly and unfathomably no longer in print, but no matter where you find a copy or its condition, buy it own it and above all else read it!

5 out of 5 Stars

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