Now in paperback, War Without Mercy has been hailed by the New York Times as "one of the most original and important books to be written about the war between Japan and the United States." In this monumental history, Professor John Dower reveals a hidden, explosive dimension of the Pacific War -- race -- while writing what John Toland has called "a landmark book...a powerful, moving, and even-handed history that is sorely needed in both America and Japan."
Drawing on American and Japanese songs, slogans, cartoons, propaganda films, secret reports, and a wealth of other documents of the time, Dower opens up a whole new way of looking at that bitter struggle of four and a half decades ago and its ramifications in our lives today. As Edwin O. Reischauer, former ambassador to Japan, has pointed out, this book offers "a lesson that the postwar generations need most...with eloquence, crushing detail, and power."
One of the most disturbing examples of racism in the Pacific War was the execution of Allied POWs by the Japanese while American planes were dropping bombs on Tokyothis on the final day of the war, a year after Japan's defeat was assured. Dower, professor of Japanese history at UC San Diego, traces in rich detail the development of racism on both sides of the Pacific, including an analysis of wartime propaganda comparing Frank Capra's ``Why We Fight'' films with their Japanese counterparts. The book leaves no room for doubt about the intensity of racial loathing among all, and shows that its effects were virtually identical. This startling work of scholarship has a larger theme, however, than racially inspired atrocities in the Pacific theater. Dower examines the abrupt transition from what he describes as ``a bloody racist war'' to an amicable postwar relationship between the two countries, and notes that the stereotypes that fed superpatriotism and racial hatred were surprisingly adaptable to cooperation in peacetime. This phase of the relationship was followedin an instance of considerable historical ironyby an ``economic Pearl Harbor,'' as Japan won victory after victory in the global trade wars and an entrepreneurial superpower was perceived as looming on the Pacific horizon. Japan's postwar accomplishments having shattered the teacher-pupil model that defined the countries' postwar relationship, pejorative stereotypes have been resurrected and applied to the battlefields of commerce. To cite one of the mildest of Dower's examples: 89% of Australian executives polled in 1984 considered the Japanese untrustworthy and devious. Those concerned with the seductive power and universal influence of racism in the 20th century will find this landmark study absorbing and essential. Photos. (May 19)