The Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945 was one of the longest and most brutal wars of the Twentieth Century, but apart from the Japanese sacks of Shanghai and Nanking most of it isn’t terribly well known in the west. This book combines a brief history of the war with a very good selection of photographs from both sides, giving a vivid impression of the impact of the war.
The chapter introductions serve as a good introduction to the course of the war, from its outbreak in northern China in 1937, through the brutal campaigns that saw the Japanese conquer large parts of China and destroy the better parts of the Nationalist Army and on to the long years where the Chinese were able to hold on while the Japanese were distracted by the Pacific War and were thus unable to commit enough resources to finish the war, ending with the final Allied victory. The book also covers the Burma theatre, where Chinese troops also fought against the Japanese, this time alongside the British and Americans.
One reason for the Japanese victories were the divisions on the Chinese side, and this is reflected in the photos, where we have images showing the Nationalists and Communists. The wide range of weaponry in use on the Chinese side was also a weakness, so we get to see quite a variety of 1930s military hardware. One of the interesting aspects of the later stages of the conflict is how this changes, with the Chinese becoming increasingly well equipped and the Japanese suffering from shortages as most of their better weapons went to the Pacific and Burma.
The pictures are well chosen, and show all three of the major armies in some detail (Nationalist, Communist, Japanese), as well has having some pictures of the various puppet armies that fought for the Japanese. The captions are informative (not always the case in photo books!), with good details on what we are seeing, and what it says about the course of the war at that time. The result is a valuable introduction to this brutal conflict.
1 - The Outbreak of War, July-October 1937
2 - The Destruction of Chiang Kai-shek's Armies, August-December 1937
3 - 'The Decisive Year', January-June 1938
4 - 'Delayed Defeat', July-December 1938
5 - Japan Triumphant, 1939-42
6 - China's Guerrilla War, 1937-45
7 - The Chinese Army in Burma, 1942-45
8- China's Final Victory, 1943-5
Author: Philip Jowett
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military