Battle of Okinawa: The Blood And The Bomb

George Feifer

Published by Lyons Press, 2011
ISBN 10: 0762772794 / ISBN 13: 9780762772797
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More people perished during the battle of Okinawa than in the ensuing bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. The Battle of Okinawa offers a stunning account of the last major campaign of World War II and the largest land-sea-air engagement in history. Superbly researched and extraordinarily detailed, this masterpiece of military history is told at the level of the participants themselves, soldiers and civilians alike. In examining the disastrous collision of three disparate cultures―American, Japanese, and Okinawan―this book provides an unforgettable picture of men at war and also the context for understanding one of the most ominous events of this century: the decision to drop the atomic bomb.

Review: The Battle of Okinawa was "the largest land-sea-air battle in history," yet remarkably little is know about this final major engagement of World War II. Based on interviews with Americans, Japanese, and Okinawans who endured the fighting, this masterpiece of military history explores every aspect of the three-month battle and its aftermath in vivid detail.

The U.S. invasion of Okinawa involved 1,457 ships and over half a million men. For six full days artillery fire poured down on the island while the Japanese holed up in underground bunkers and tunnels like moles, darting out for supplies only at night. In examining the battle from the perspective of both generals and infantrymen, George Feifer explains the substantial differences in the training and mindset between the soldiers, particularly the Japanese's fiercely nationalistic stance and willingness to die for their emperor that both impressed and baffled the Americans. Since most Japanese refused to surrender even after American victory was assured, less than 5 percent survived the battle. And worse bloodshed was certain to come, for the next step in the war was an invasion of Japan itself. Indeed, the Japanese government encouraged all 100 million Japanese to "die proudly" in defense of their homeland. It was both this kamikaze devotion and the heavy human losses at Okinawa that led directly to the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan rather than pay the high price of a large-scale invasion.

Feifer also lends a voice to the local civilians, certainly the least considered element in the battle, focusing on how the hospitable and peaceful Okinawans were caught in a crossfire they could neither comprehend nor control. During the fighting, over a quarter of a million Okinawans were herded into U.S. detention camps in order to get them out of the way of the fighting, yet an estimated 150,000 died from artillery attacks or because locals were often indistinguishable from Japanese soldiers. In a sense, the war continues for Okinawans since one-fifth of the best land on their island is still occupied by the U.S. military as well as a Japanese force. Feifer's excellent book should ensure that this horrific battle is never forgotten, for "if a symbol is needed to help preserve the memory of the Pacific War, Okinawa is the most enduring one." --Shawn Carkonen

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Title: Battle of Okinawa: The Blood And The Bomb
Publisher: Lyons Press
Publication Date: 2011
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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