Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
In the 1930s, the Japanese Empire became the dominant power of the Pacific. With the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan showed their treachery. The United States had no choice but to enter the World War. In The War in the Pacific: from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay, Dr. Harry A. Gailey, a historian and former professor, shows the reader what conflicts, actions, factors of the war and the roots of conflicts. Gailey analyzes the battles and events, such as Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, and Hiroshima by providing many facts with explaining and reasoning. Of the many theaters, “the Pacific held a unique place.”1
After “the Meiji Revolution, which utilized European political systems as a model in creating a government of shared powers,” Japan was introduced to western cultures and technologies.2 Also, by accepting the western military organizing, strategy, and weapon, Japan became the dominant force in Asia. By gaining more power and strength, Japan started to covet other countries’ land and their resources. Japan was short of resources from their homeland, especially oil, since Japan is an island country. They invaded or conquered other nations, like Korea and Manchuria, using their newly gained power of military. In July, 1937, Japan invaded China, triggering the Pacific War. China could not cope with the war properly because the quarrel between the Chinese Nationalist Party and the Communist Party degenerated. Japan conquered Beijing, Shanghai, and Nanking, the formal capital of China. On December 13, Japan also committed the Nanking Massacre after capturing and, killing 300,000 people. The war in China gained more attention of Western Nations as they recognized the Japanese threat. The United States and European countries were trying to discourage Japanese militarism. The United States Joint Army and Navy Board planned the Orange Plan. It was a contingency plan in the event of war with Japan, by assuming possible Japanese attack and its location. The United States were expecting the crucial conflict with Japan. The United Sates and other nations stopped selling resources and materials, such as oil, steel, and rubber. The ABCD line was placed to embargo Japan by Western Nations, including America, Britain, China, and the Dutch. With the shortage of resource, the relationship got worse with Western Nations, especially the United States. In 1939, the United States and Japan abrogated the treaty of commerce. With Nazi Germany invading France, the French did not have any power to manage their territory of Indochina. Japan invaded and controlled Indochina to materials especially oil, rubber, and iron. Japan’s ambition of conquering the entire continent of Asia started with the plan of stopping the United States’ power in the Asia. With the command of Tojo Hideki, Japan planned the attack of Pearl Harbor, to destroy the United States Navy fleet in the Pacific, making Japan possible conquer other islands in the Pacific. Japan thought that the United States was busy focusing on Europe, and if Japan destroyed the US Pacific fleet, it would give the US navy a serious damage and by that, Japan could earn time to invade and conquer other nations and territories of Asia successfully. They assumed that the United States would acknowledge Japan’s control of West Pacific, once they took over the East Asia because the United States will focus on the war in the Europe. On December 7th, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, damaging the Pacific fleet, unlike their plan to destroy the whole fleet and power. The attack killed two thousand of sailors and soldiers and sunk multiple of navy vessels. The US rose up remarkably fast, unlike Japan had expect. Japan was eager to become the major and only power of Asia, controlling West Pacific without any interference. However, their ambition did not last too long.
The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt; back by the Congress declared war on Japan, Nazi Germany, and Italy on December 8th, 1941. Without a standard army, the United States was not prepared for war. After the Pearl Harbor, Japan started to invade Southeast Asia, including Philippines. Troops in Philippines were retreating, and many were captured. Captured American soldiers were held in the harsh Japanese war prisoner camp. Japanese were accused of treating their prisoners of war harshly They made prisoners march hundreds of miles, and starve. Their inhumane actions were never forgotten. Japan also attacked other European nations’ territories, including the Great Britain’s Hong Kong, and Dutch’s Indonesia. The United States quickly prepared for the war by recruiting young men to join the military, and built military supplies. The factories producing civilian goods were changed to war supply factories. After capturing Southeast Asia, Japan conquered New Guinea, and built an airfield, in order to fly bombers to Australia, and cut off supply route of Australia from the United States. On May 4th, 1942, the Battle of the Coral Sea began, when Japanese fleet met the American fleet, which was on the way to restrain Japanese from attacking Australia and its supply route. It was the key battle, and the first battle in the history between aircraft carrier fleet. The fight was mostly between aircraft, dog fights and vessels. The United States won the battle, and Japan retreated with a large number of fatalities and damage to their fleet and naval strength. The United States was able to protect their land, and start to fight back. After the battle of the Coral Sea, Japanese admiral Yamamoto ordered his navy to head towards the Midway Island, located at the north of Hawaii. On June 4th, the United States navy aircrafts from the carriers attacked the major Japanese fleet, which were on the way to Midway Island. The United States navy broke the codes of Japan, and got the information of where the Japanese fleet was heading at. It was the battle between navy aircrafts, and Japan lost their major ships and power. “The confrontation at Midway was one of the most important naval battles of the war.”3 In fact, this battle was the turning point of the war in the Pacific. The US and allies started to advance toward mainland Japan. At the battle of Guadalcanal, the allies stopped Japan from cutting off the supply route of the allies to Australia.
After those turning points, Japan started to retreat. Their loss of major war ships and damages on the fleets were affecting them. With the United States’ mass production of war material and weapons, especially ships and aircrafts, Japan was short in number of weapons. Japan did not expect the massive production. The entire nation was fighting the war. While men joined military and fought in Europe and Pacific, women took men’s job and produced wear materials. The United States fleet began to island-hop using their grand fleet and powerful Marine Corps. They also attacked Guadalcanal on August 7th, an island located at Solomon Sea, Where Japanese built airfield to attack Australia. After gaining control of the island, the United States used that airfield to attack Japanese fleet and other islands that were under the control of Japan. The next stop for Americans was Marianas islands. In fact, “the ultimate goal of the Central Pacific command had always been the occupation of the major islands in the Marianas chain.”4 Islands, like Guam and Saipan were essential to both sides. The oil field and air field were located at those islands. If the US gained control of the islands, they had access to the air field, making them able to bomb mainland Japan easily. Bombing of the mainland was necessary since it could destroy war factories and commanding branches, making Japan in a worse situation. Japan started to use new tactics, called kamikaze-suicide attacking. The commanders of the allies’ next goal were taking the Philippines back. They used “plans called for a stepping-stone approach,” getting close to the Philippines, and eventually, mainland Japan.5 Americans had several landing operations to invade the islands of the Philippines. Being once a US army base, the Philippines had many significant sources and airfields. Another island was Iwo Jima. “Iwo Jima’s importance was recognized even before any of the Marianas was secured.”6 Iwo Jima, being closer to than islands previously seized, had two airfields, and it was possible to hit mainland Japan in short flight time, bombing them more efficiently. Iwo Jima is a small, volcanic island. It was both hard for Japanese and American soldiers to fight. Also, Japanese soldiers hid in caves and sudden attacking American troops. It was hard for American marines to suppress the resistance. After that, was Okinawa, the largest of the Ryukyu Islands. It was Japanese island, and was very close to the mainland, making allied commanders eager for the air field.
After taking islands and territories back from Japanese, allies prepared to attack the mainland Japan. MacArthur and other commanders planned the “Operation Downfall”, the plan which using ground force to invade and seize the mainland Japan.7 The Operation was never executed since Japan surrendered in August while the time for the plan of the operation was in November. After the victory in Europe, Russia changed their focus to Asia. Soviet Union was trying to join the Pacific theater. The President Harry S. Truman did not want Soviet Union to enter the war, fearing that Soviet might influence their ideas of communism and socialism. To end the war as soon as possible, Truman began to think about using the Manhattan project on Japan. With numerous studies and operations, the project was now able to use in the real game. The project was the atomic bomb. On August 6th, 1945, bomber B-29 named Enola Gay dropped “Little Boy” on Hiroshima. 71,379 people were dead, and it blew up entire Hiroshima. The destruction of Hiroshima made Japanese Foreign Minister, Togo, to seek Soviet support. Also, other nations, especially Soviet Union, learned how powerful the atomic bomb was, beginning their development and project after the war. Three days later, on August 9th, the second bomb, nicknamed “Fat Man” was dropped on Nagasaki. Like Little Boy, Fat Man also gave massive casualty to Nagasaki. Having dropped in the higher altitude than the Fat Man, the explosion was little different from the explosion in Hiroshima. With two drops of the atomic bombs, Japan surrendered on August 15th. General MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito signed the formal Japanese Instrument of Surrender on the USS Missouri. The World War II was finally over with numerous bloody battles.
Harry Gailey explained the entire war in the Pacific by handful knowledge and information, providing facts and riveting topics. He thoroughly went over the numerous campaigns. Gailey stated “the Second World War engaged the energies of the American people for almost four tears and was fought on a scale barely conceived of by even the most pessimistic prewar observers.”8 Gailey considered not only the military and political actions, but also the society’s view and response to the war. He showed how the home front worked, and how it affected the war and the victory.
The author, Harry A. Gailey, is a Historian, specialized at teaching World War II. He said “a lot of the study of history has to do with the military.”9 He has written many historical books, especially about World War II in the Pacific. His other titles, like the liberation of Guam: 21 July-10 August 1944, and MacArthur Strikes Back, talks about the war in the Pacific, too. Although, as an American Historical writer, he narrates the book in American perspective, Dr. Gailey showed and explained position, situation, and other factors of both the United States and Japan during the war. He is a former professor at San Jose University and taught history. He also earned many titles of emeritus professor.
Harry A. Gailey was born in 1926, in Los Gatos, California. From a very young age, he had a lot of interest in history, which made him a successful historian. When he was eighteen, he joined the “U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944.”10 He served for the nation toward the end of World War II. This furthered his interest in WWII topics, especially, the war in the Pacific. Through what he experienced in the military, and what he learned, he was able to write his books. He began to study the history, especially about the World War II after the war at the college.
Gilbert Taylor said Dr. Gailey was “an informative historian of the whole war.”11 Taylor reviewed the book, saying that Dr. Gailey positioned his work to redress campaigns he believes the field overlooks. Gailey capably and laconically narrated the course and consequences of its battles in the Pacific. Another reviewer said “Gailey thoroughly examines the roots of the conflict.”12 The book showed and explained information about the era and events before the war. It explained how the conflict started and what triggered the war. Also, there are strong comparisons of Japanese and American societies, military, and economies. This book covers significant actions and events in the Pacific theater. The author has written a more conventional study of the Pacific War.
This single book holds a lot of valuable facts and information, even the very little or information of each battle and campaigns, including exact time, number of troops, etc. Although the book is lengthy by putting information of 4 years of war into one single volume, it is well summarized, by using historical information to explain battles in the Pacific, and facts on the war, conflict, prewar era, government, politics and society. He points out what the United States did wrong, by saying “the war reflects the prewar bias of U.S. policy by focusing on events in Europe.”13 Also, the book is well organized, separating parts and chapters by battles and era in order. By showing aspects of the war in a semi-neutral manner, the author explains the both sides of the war, learning more, and better about the conflict, war, and facts. He does not have biased point of view at the war, being true, and correct in all the information.
The victory of the war led the nation in the new direction. After the victory in the Pacific, another enemy of the nation arose, with their powerful, fast spreading idea, called communism and socialism. The Soviet Union tried to join the Pacific theater, to spread their idea on the Asian land after the war. Although they entered the war in August 8th, 1945, a week before the United States’ victory, they were able to spread their idea and alliance to some countries in Southeast Asia, especially in China, Vietnam, and half of Korea. It led to the Cold War, with horrible war in Korean and Vietnam. Also, in the 1940s, the United States, with eager to end the war as soon as possible with massive power, invented the new weapon with competent scientists that kills 80,000 and destroys the whole city with one drop, in few seconds. The atomic bomb has changed the “entire of nature of war.”14 It made other nations recognize the necessary and the power of the atomic bomb. Other nations started to develop their bombs, especially Soviet Union. Atomic bomb later affected other new powerful weapons to develop, including nuclear bomb. These kinds of weapons are a danger to the peace of the world.
Whether the war was necessary or not to the United States, the nation could not avoid it with several conflicts and actions happening in the Pacific and events in Europe. “After 1,364 days of bloody conflict,”15the nation learned and earned many ideas, power, territory and recognition from the world of the national strength. The War in the Pacific changed and affected the nation’s growth and society.
1. Gailey, Harry. The War in the Pacific: from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay. Novato, Presidio Press, 1995. 1.
2. Gailey, Harry. 53.
3. Gailey, Harry. 170
4. Gailey, Harry. 301
5. Gailey, Harry. 337
6. Gailey, Harry. 408
7. Gailey, Harry. 447
8. Gailey, Harry. ix
9. Kaplan, Sharti. "Los Gatos Weekly-Times | WWII Historian Dr. Harry Gailey." Los Gatos Weekly-Times | WWII Historian Dr. Harry Gailey. Los Gatos Weekly-Times, 24 Jan. 2001. Web. 03 June 2013.
10. Kaplan, Sharti. "Los Gatos Weekly-Times | WWII Historian Dr. Harry Gailey." Los Gatos Weekly-Times | WWII Historian Dr. Harry Gailey. Los Gatos Weekly-Times, 24 Jan. 2001. Web. 03 June 2013.
11. Taylor, Gilbert. “The War in the Pacific: From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay.” Booklist 15 Apr. 1995: 1476. Literature Resource Center. Web. 29 May 2013. Document URL http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA16875082&v=2.1&u=ucirvine&it=r&p=LitRC&sw=w
12. “The War in the Pacific: From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay.” Publishers Weekly 20 Mar. 1995: 52. Literature Resource Center. Web.29 2013 Document URL http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA16682531&v=2.1&u=ucirvine&it=r&p=LitRC&sw=w
13. Gailey, Harry. ix
14. Gailey, Harry. 488
15. Gailey, Harry. 492