Category Archives: Pacific

Review of “Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness” by Craig Nelson


Fast flowing new account of the attack on Pearl Harbor

Craig Nelson provides an expansive book that tells the often told story of the Pearl Harbor attack. It’s been a while since I’ve read Prange’s standard on this subject “At Dawn We Slept” so I have little to compare, however I found this a comprehensive account with some interesting later chapters covering how some of the characters fared in later life and the modern day Japanese and American perspective.

Divided into three parts it’s a substantial read at 500 plus pages but does flow at quite a pace. Part one covers Japanese-U.S. relations, the growing tension in the Pacific, and Japanese war planning. Part two covers the attack itself including midget submarines. Part three covers the aftermath of the attacks, rescue efforts, salvage efforts, as well as a whistle stop tour of the Pacific campaign to the dropping of the atomic bomb.

I’d recommend this for anyone looking for a present day view of the attack it’s ramifications both at the time and also to the present day.

I received this book free from Netgalley and was not required to write a positive review.

Review of " Death in Shanghai" by M.J. Lee

Review of ” Death in Shanghai” by M.J. Lee

Solid police procedural set in rarely covered location.

Set in the Shanghai International Settlement, Russian Inspector Danilov is working for the Shanghai Municipal Police, a predominantly British force who policed the British and American Concessions.

It’s worth explaining the origins of the Shanghai International Settlement as it’s an interesting 19th century and early 20th century anomaly.

It originated following the Treaty of Nanking. Under the terms of the treaty, the Chinese city of Shanghai opened to foreign trade. The British, already active in Hong Kong, which had been ceded to them under the Treaty of Nanking, quickly established a settlement.

American and French involvement followed with distinct areas of settlement for the French in the south and the Americans to the north drawn out of the British settlement. The three countries created the Shanghai Municipal Council to serve all their interests, but in 1862, the French concession dropped out of the arrangement. The following year the British and American settlements formally united to create the Shanghai International Settlement.

The book is set in 1928 and the book starts with Danilov’s arrival on the scene of one of a series of brutal killings. A number of interesting characters populate the book which effectively shows the limitation of the police force at that time and the ethnic friction created by the overtly racist views of some of the British population.

Danilov’s background story is an interesting one and certainly provides further subject matter for what appears to be planned as a series of books.

Although compared to Philip Kerr and the Bernie Gunther books I’m not sure that’s fair, it’s an entertaining read and bodes well for further stories in the series.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review of ” Last to Die: A Defeated Empire, a Forgotten Mission, and the Last American Killed in World War II” by Stephen Harding

Engrossing account of the immediate days after the atomic bombing of Japan.

Utilising the story of US Army sergeant Anthony J. Marchione, Steven Harding weaves in the detail of the incendiary period where Japanese factions clashed over whether to continue hostilities or surrender.

Marchione was the last American aircrew fatality in combat in the Pacific theatre and the book covers in detail his enlistment, the aircraft he flew in and his eventual demise high above Tokyo.

In addition there is a lot of detail around the Japanese deliberations over surrender or a continuation of hostilities as well as the Allied reactions.

Whilst this is a story of politics and war, it’s also a personal story of the Marchione family and the loss of their only son in the last shots of World War 2.

Harding has effectively combined an intensely personal story with the wider details of the conflict to produce both a moving, but also informative and readable account of the last days of the World War 2 in the Pacific.