Thursday, December 8, 2016

One of the best books on the War in the Pacific. John Toland was an author whose love of dirigibles as a child led to his first history book, Ships in the Sky: The Story of the Great Dirigibles (1957). As many historians did, Toland wrote extensively about World War II in the 1950s and 1960s, producing three major works in four years.

Toland enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, and was stationed in Japan after the war. He met Toshiko Matsumura, an English-speaking native japanese who was a correspondent for McGraw-Hill World News. They married in 1960.

Toland used his wife's connections and her translating ability to conduct hundreds of interviews with Japanese diplomats, generals, admirals, common sailors and soldiers, industrialists, and members of the Imperial Family.

His 1970 book, The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945 won him the Pulitzer Prize. The book chronicles the Empire of Japan from the near-successful military coup of February 1936 to the end of World War II.

Never before had the Japanese view of World War II been told. Critics called Toland's work "a compelling portrait of Japan at the brink of national suicide."

Although some aspects of Toland's work have now been superceded by new scholarship, it still remains the masterwork about the War in the Pacific 45 years after its publication.

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