End of Empire
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 19 Jul 2019
Full Title: End of Empire: 100 Days in 1945 that Changed Asia and the World
Japan surrendered in 1945, and as far as the English-speaking world was concerned, there would be peace. What would happen in the subsequent years would shape Asia for decades to come, with consequences clearly visible even today, but so little of this collection of theaters would be written about. The North-South Korean split had not actually been the goal of the Americans nor the Soviets, while the Indonesian independence movement which grew from the power vacuum left behind by the Japanese was far bloodier than most Americans realized. The Nationalist Chinese military hired former Japanese officers in preparation for a continued civil war against Communist rebels, while the Communists gathered captured Japanese weapons and garnered Soviet protection. The British returned to Burma and Malaya to puzzle over peaceful solutions to nationalistic fervor, while the French attempted to gain support from conservative factions within its various Indochinese colonies in order to regain control. If this sounded to you like an impossibly complex situation, you would not be far off. However, against all odds, End of Empire was able to do a most excellent job providing something more than a basic primer for even readers who had little prior knowledge in this subject. Editors David Chandler, Robert Cribb, and Li Narangoa, plus a team of contributors, presented each date as a chapter; one chapter for 6 Aug 1945, the next for 7 Aug 1945, and lasting all the way to 12 Nov 1945, ie. 100 days after the detonation of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. Each chapter chronicled the events that took place during that particulate date, with occasional essays to neatly weave the daily happenings into a coherent narrative. As a whole, the book described the big picture on how the fall of Japan affected each Asian nation, and thus how each of their national experiences formed the world we live in today. As you could probably guess, End of Empire would be a book I would most fervently recommend to anyone interested in WW2 history. Because of the war's profound consequences in the geopolitical arena, I would also recommend this book to those interested in modern events across the Asia-Pacific region.
As a side note, I played a tiny role to the End of Empire project, providing some raw data to the contribution team in the form of unprocessed dates/events and some photographs. Even though my name is listed in the "Editor's Note" section as well as in the "Contributors" section, I cannot claim more than a tiny sliver of credit in this wonderful job that the "real" contributor team accomplished. I am, of course, most honored to be able to provide some research material to the project.
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945