Shanghai 1937 - Stalingrad on the Yangtze, Peter Harmsen

Shanghai 1937 - Stalingrad on the Yangtze, Peter Harmsen

The battle for Shanghai in 1937 was one of the first major urban battles of the Twentieth Century, and a precursor of much that was come in the next decade. Japan and China had fought several times since Japan was forced out of her self imposed isolation, and in 1937 fighting had broken out once again, this time in the north of China. In previous conflicts the Chinese nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek had tried to avoid turning localised battles into a wider war, but by 1937 that approach was no longer sustainable. Chiang decided to expand the war by attacking the Japanese garrison at Shanghai (part of the International Settlement).

He hoped that this would force the Japanese to move troops from the north, attract the attention of the international community and give China a morale-boosting victory. Chiang's plan eventually backfired - the initial Chinese attack was repulsed. Japanese reinforcements arrived in increasing numbers, and eventually the battle was lost, the Chinese were forced to evacuate Shanghai and were unable to hold Nanjing. The sack of Nanjing was the first serious stain on the reputation of the Japanese army, and a warning of things to come. The fighting at Shanghai critically damaged Chiang's highest quality divisions, and left the Chinese army greatly weakened in the face of an increasingly aggressive Japanese invasion.

The battle for Shanghai was unusual in a number of ways, the most important of which was the international nature of the city. The International Settlement and the French Concession, where around 70,000 foreigners lived, were both relatively unaffected by the fighting, so the desperate urban battle took place within sight of a relatively peaceful city. The International press corps could visit the fighting then return to their safe hotels, and as a result every step of the fighting was reported around the world.

This is a compelling account of this major but often overlooked battle, told from both sides of the conflict and covering every level of the conflict, from the experiences of the private soldier to the problems faced by the senior commanders on both side as well as the eyewitnesses from the international community in the city. The text is supported by a series of maps that help illustrate the course of the battle, and by photographs that show the impact of urban warfare on one of Asia's most prosperous and cosmopolitan cities.

1 - Three Corpses
2 - 'Black Saturday'
3 - Flesh against Steel
4 - 'Banzai! Banzai! Banzai!'
5 - Rivers of Blood
6 - Verdun on the East
7 - The 'Lost Battalion'
8 - Collapse
9 - Aftermath

Author: Peter Harmsen
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 320
Publisher: Casemate
Year: 2013

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