The War in the Pacific: From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay

By Harry A. Gailey | Go to book overview

Preface

The Second World War engaged the energies of the American people for almost four years and was fought on a scale barely conceived of by even the most pessimistic prewar observers. Of the many theaters of operations, the Pacific held a unique place in the public mind, for the Japanese personified what most Americans considered to be evil. Japan, by attacking Pearl Harbor, forced the United States reluctantly to become a partner in a global conflict that was already two years old. Thus, despite the U.S. government's Eurocentric military policy, many Americans viewed the Japanese as the primary enemy. Although racism may have played a role in this, remembrances of the atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers in China, the Pearl Harbor attack, and the brutal treatment of American prisoners at the hands of their Japanese captors as exemplified by the Bataan Death March probably did more to shape U.S. public opinion.

Military historiography since the war reflects the prewar bias of U.S. policy by focusing on events in Europe. This is not to imply that the Pacific war has been completely overlooked. There is a series of excellent official and unofficial histories of specific campaigns, and biographies of the most important military commanders and reminiscences by participants abound. However, many deadly campaigns once thought to have been critical have been all but ignored. The most important of these neglected areas are the central and northern Solomons actions,

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