With an introduction read by Max Hastings. A companion volume to his best-selling Armageddon, Max Hastings' account of the battle for Japan is a masterful military history.
Featuring the most remarkable cast of commanders the world has ever seen, the dramatic battle for Japan of 1944-45 was acted out across the vast stage of Asia: Imphal and Kohima, Leyte Gulf and Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the Soviet assault on Manchuria.
In this gripping narrative, Max Hastings weaves together the complex strands of an epic war, exploring the military tactics behind some of the most triumphant and most horrific scenes of the 20th century. The result is a masterpiece that balances the story of command decisions, rivalries, and follies with the experiences of soldiers, sailors, and airmen of all sides as only Max Hastings can.
©2007 Max Hastings (P)2014 Audible Studios
Nemesis follows Hastings' usual approach of bringing together first-hand accounts by combatants with highly informed analysis of why the politicians and generals chose the strategic options they did. Having listened to this I felt a little ashamed of quite how little I knew about the Pacific campaign despite having relatives who fought in it but of course all of those surprising details only serve to make this a more interesting listen.
In brief, Nemesis offers a large canvas picture which begins by showing how the Japanese military became dominant in domestic policy and the extent to which it fostered a culture of pitiless brutality to those it conquered. We then move on to a slightly revisionist take on the military significance of Pearl Harbour and the Allied response which went from shambolic to under-powered on the part of the British while the Americans did the majority of the heavy lifting through the mobilisation of awesome naval forces and the bravery of infantry who had to battle insanely committed Japanese soldiers across a sequence of inhospitable pacific islands. Finally of course the USAF settled things by dropping the atomic bomb.
Hastings manages to cram in first hand details of ground fighting; thoughtful analyses of the planning and execution of the dropping of the atomic bomb; a fascinating picture of the way Chinese resistance fighters under leaders like Mao played off allied and Japanese forces as they sought the best position for post-war dominance in China and an interesting summary of the way in which victory distorted the US military's view of how it should fight wars in the future. That's a lot of ground to cover but Hastings is such a talented writer that Nemesis rattles along.
Nemesis: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45 is my first book I've read by Max Hastings. I was immediately attracted to this work because it seemed much rarer to find books written about the Pacific war in contrast to the numerous volumes available on the European theatre of the second world war.
This is a truly tremendous piece of detailed and painstakingly researched work and the scope and sheer levels of detail are amazing. The narrative is often viscerally illustrated with many personal accounts of those that fought, won and lost this epic conflict and paints a vivid picture of what life was like for those embroiled in the events that shaped the Pacific war. There is just so much in this book that it merits reading a second time and probably even a third.
The harsh and extremely brutal and cruel nature of war is often described in the words of those that were there with Hastings providing the connective narrative that weaves all this together in a giant tapestry. What appealed to me was that this book gave much needed attention to the Japanese perspective that is so often lacking in many books covering war and so it is fascinating to read so much from the enemy as it was back then. Such balance is rare when most works like this focus heavily on the plight and stories of the victors and tend to forget or give very little over to the vanquished.
A word on the narration; This book was also my first experience of Cameron Stewart and I must say that his delivery and competence is second to none. He also has just the right voice to narrate such a work and really makes an excellent job of this epic work.
Further, "Nemesis" describes in detail the almost forgotten Russian campaign against the Japanese toward the end of the war and really adds a lot of detail that many readers like myself may have known very little about.
A superb work with massive scope and detail that anyone interested in the war in the Pacific must read.
Love the author and the narrator was good apart from a few of the accents. Just don't think that stereotypes should be used in a non fiction setting. The subject matter is hard time in the history of this generation and while a lot of the content is known, several points in particular bring reality of the terrible situation. We must read these stories and remember that in the future we must adhere to the warnings that are presented to us today. Megalomania today maybe not on the scale of 1930' but how far are we away from another word war? Some say it's already started electronically let alone military. But that depends on location and peace for many in 2015 whilst in a refugee camp must surely be feeling what this book covers. As it says we must not forget, indeed we must Remember the past to contain the future. That is not happening currently!
Great listen well done, next please.
A little understood aspect of the war made much clearer. The real beginning of the war with Japan's attack on China and its failure to acknowledge its guilt are well covered
"Great Book. Even for anti-British Americans."
This is at the top of WWII histories.
"Nemesis" is an example of why Max Hastings is the foremost WWII historian. In a CSPAN Book TV interview he said that "World War II was the greatest event in human history." Considering its far-reaching effects--continuing through our era-- he has a strong case for this statement.A strength of the book is its many stories of ordinary people. One gets details and a sense of realism that is better than histories just talking about generals and politicians. Hastings humanizes the story. These realities resonate with me, a combat veteran of Vietnam.
I feel the criticisms of the narrator are wrong. Most Americans are intolerant of non-American English. This American thinks Stewart Cameron's British accent is quite easy to follow and clearly carries the story once you tune-in to the British cadence. It's really not that hard. Americans make a big deal out it. We should get used to the kind of English spoken by the majority of the English-speaking world. The author is, after all, British : -)Hastings has a British viewpoint, of course. But this is good for Americans. We tend to think we won the war single handedly.
Hastings is judgmental about key figures all around. This is one of his strengths, what takes "Nemesis" beyond ordinary histories. He says that some British generals were glad when they heard that their Orde Wingate was killed--that he wouldn't be around to get more soldiers killed by goofy heroics. His criticisms of MacArthur seem to sting some American readers. But even American soldiers at the time didn't think highly of MacArthur. A friend of mine who fought his way onto several Pacific islands told me that GI's called him "Dugout Doug," for his propensity to be at photo-ops only after areas were secured.
Hastings strong opinions on Japanese barbarity are another area that may offend current sensibilities. But all the old Pacific War vets I have known would agree that they were dealing with an enemy quite different than even the Nazis. One called the Japanese regime a death cult.
"Great Book; Very Poor Presentation!!"
I do not understand how any audible book producer, can allow the reader to mispronounce so many names and locations. I found the subject matter and the manner presented by the books author interesting and I think, if I had read, rather than listened to the book, I would found the experience more enlightening. In listening to the book, I found my self cringing every time a name was butchered. For example, the narrators referring to the last Japanese Battle Ship "Yamato" as "Yama-Toes" and then listening to the narrator mispronounce the ships name many-many time during the discussion of April 1945 action, almost caused me to send this book to the cyber trash can.
As with Inferno, Max Hastings has written a different kind of history of World War II, this one of the war in the Pacific theater. Like Inferno, this history provides an overview of the strategy and battles with details gleaned from personal letters, diary entries and recollections of those involved. All sides are represented with many such entries involving the Japanese, Chinese and Burmese as well as the western allies, and subjects not generally covered in histories of World War II are covered in some detail. Thus, in this book, we find details on what life was like for allied soldiers held as POWs by the Japanese, for western civilians held in internment camps, for the few Japanese held as POWs by the allies, random acts of compassion and violence committed by both sides, the thoughts of those involved in the fighting on places like Iwo Jima, Okinawa and other islands, the only detailed discussion of the Russian invasion of Manchuria right before the surrender of Japan that I have found in books like these, an extraordinary chapter on the decision to drop the atomic bomb as well as almost unknown incidents like those involving the Australian soldiers who mutinied and refused to be sent out on patrols and the Australian civilians who refused to load and unload war supplies on holidays and weekends during the last 2 years of the war when Australia was no longer under the threat of Japanese invasion.
The writing is engrossing and hard to put down, the stories of individuals both fascinating and horrifying and the truth of what life was like for those caught up in the war both clear and enlightening. While most histories of World War II have centered on the war in Europe this book makes clear that the war in the Pacific was just as difficult and painful for those involved, on both sides, as the one in Europe and Mr Hastings clearly shows how public opinion slowly turned from anger against the Japanese for their undeclared attack against Pearl Harbor into revulsion as stories of the treatment of allied POWs came out. Interestingly enough he also tells of the efforts by the allied governments to suppress the stories of Japanese brutality regarding the allied POWs.
As wonderful as this book is I only gave it 4 stars because Mr Hastings sometimes seems to let his personal opinions overwhelm the narrative. There are parts of the book where those opinions prevent him from presenting different, but valid, views on the subject. While there are many such examples I will mention only one.
Mr Hastings does not Douglas McArthur and that dislike seems lot color all of his writings concerning the general. Almost nothing McArthur did or planned (excepting his stewardship of Japan after the war) seems acceptable to Mr Hastings. He judges McArthur’s invasion of the Philippines as unnecessary for the defeat of Japan and spends considerable time saying so. Even if one accepts his premise that the invasion was militarily unnecessary Mr Hastings does not even consider that there might be other valid reasons for the invasion. The Philippines was a US dependency and the people were largely supportive of the US governance and the planned granting of independence. Almost alone among the peoples of Japanese occupied Asia the Philippine people looked forward to a US invasion and would probably have considered the US bypassing them as a slap on the face. In addition there was the cause of the American and Philippine POWs held by the Japanese and the attempt to save their lives. As Mr Hastings makes very clear, Japanese surrender did not mean the safety of US POWs and many were killed by their captors after Japan surrendered. In addition Mr Hastings blames the terrible loss of life of the Philippine civilians, killed by the Japanese during the invasion, as being as much due to the invasion as to the Japanese - an assumption I found both unreasonable and prejudicial.
Mr’s Cameron’s narration is very good and helps keep the narrative foremost in view. However he has the very annoying habit of mispronouncing the word “corpsman”. In American English this is pronounced KOR-MAN but Mr Cameron constantly pronounces it KORS-MAN. It is extraordinarily annoying and ruined parts of the narration for me. I have to assume that he does not know the proper pronunciation since the word is American and refers to the medical enlisted men in the US Marines. Regardless, it is annoying.
This is a monumental work covering the last year and a half of the WWII pacific theater. I found this wide ranging and expansive, offering insights at the geopolitical level, through military strategy, to the on the ground/sea fighting. I found it gripping from beginning to end. The narrative is effectively punctuated by frequent first-person accounts which is not often found in this genre. As well, Hastings takes pains to present the perspectives of all sides of the conflict and also weighs in on such ongoing moral controversies such as Japanese and allied war crimes, the morality of total war, the competence of the leading strategists and military commanders (in particular MacArthur) and the use of the atomic bombs. This is thoroughly enjoyable and informative reading and I will definitely be looking to read more of Hasting's works.
The narration is competent and Cameron punctuates the first person accounts by invoking various accents. Still, given that the war in the pacific was fought mostly by Americans, I found Cameron's English accent oddly out of place and had a hard time getting past it.
"Interesting history for the generalist."
I would likely listen to the portions detailing the schism between the British and American commands in the Pacific theatre as this often gets downplayed or ignored while the divisions between the IJA and IJN are given too much weight.
It's a typical Max Hastings book. Lots of interesting content marred by the usual gratuitous "horrors of war" porn salaciously described while hiding under a veneer of smug "tut-tutting". Just describe what happened and leave the judgment to the reader, please.
He did a fine job generally but there really should have been an editor involved to coach him on the correct pronunciation of certain Japanese names. The 'u' in the 'tsu' sound is nearly silent when it occurs in the middle of a word so names like Etsuko should be read as "Etsko" not "Et-TSU-ko" as Mr. Cameron has done. Further, while it is a feature of the Japanese language to add a "yu" sound to a word with a "mu" in it, this is not done with the word "samurai". Mr. Cameron insists on pronouncing it as "sa-MYU-rai" when the correct pronunciation is "sa-mu-rai".
The ratings system should not force one to enter a grade for "story" in works of non-fiction.
The book was great, but the narration was a little disappointing. Stewart Cameron does a good job overall, but whenever a non-British person is quoted in the text (which is often), he reads the passage in their accent. His accents are bad, especially his American accent. All the Americans sound like adenoidal newscasters or mentally challenged farm boys. It broke the flow of Hastings' narration, and over 27 hours it got pretty annoying. Really, no one reads Hastings better than Hastings. I wish they could persuade him to record one of his books.
The author's candid evaluation of leadership. He did not merely "rubber stamp" received evaluations (e.g., his sobering assessment of MacArthur).
Can't think of only one. It is a very long "listen."
Clear enunciation. However, also somewhat monotone.
An informative "listen."
"A great history book"
Worth every minute I listen to this book. This book was a pleasure to listen to (thank you Stewart Cameron) and beautifully written (thank you Max Hastings). You learn so much from this book and understand the war from so many perspectives that it makes sense why things unfolded the way they did. Worth listening to.
"Nemesis - Challenging to the Standard Narrative"
Story: The book is recommend read due to Mr. Hastings challenges to the standards held beliefs about the Pacific War: use of the atomic weapons, the use of firebombing, the effects of airpower and submarine warfare, the mindset of the Japanese leaders, etc, as well as the current revisit to the Pacific theater of operations. The effects of submarine warfare have particular application in today's environment in managing the re-rise of China.
Reader: Mr. Cameron is excellent as usual.
Production: Very good.
"a superb book, must read "
max Hastings must be acknowledged as as a superb historical writer if not imminent master historian. His works combine both the macro and micro universe of the various theatres which come under his microscope . I have never granted a perfect score before but given the immensity of scope and depth of emmotional intensity which this book must contend with, I feel justified in giving it five stars . the narrator was just right, very dignified and concise, there were a few puzzling pauses that had me glancing at my phone to make sure the app was on but that likely had more to do with the editing, I will definitely purchase more from Hastings.
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