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The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945 | [John Toland]

The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945

This Pulitzer Prize-winning history of World War II chronicles the dramatic rise and fall of the Japanese empire, from the invasion of Manchuria and China to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Told from the Japanese perspective, The Rising Sun is, in the author’s words, "a factual saga of people caught up in the flood of the most overwhelming war of mankind, told as it happened - muddled, ennobling, disgraceful, frustrating, full of paradox."
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Publisher's Summary

This Pulitzer Prize-winning history of World War II chronicles the dramatic rise and fall of the Japanese empire, from the invasion of Manchuria and China to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Told from the Japanese perspective, The Rising Sun is, in the author’s words, "a factual saga of people caught up in the flood of the most overwhelming war of mankind, told as it happened - muddled, ennobling, disgraceful, frustrating, full of paradox."

In weaving together the historical facts and human drama leading up to and culminating in the war in the Pacific, Toland crafts a riveting and unbiased narrative history.

©1970 John Toland (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  •  
    Cassandra 09-07-14
    Cassandra 09-07-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Long, but never boring"
    If you could sum up The Rising Sun in three words, what would they be?

    Compelling, informative, objective


    What did you like best about this story?

    It was told from the perspective of many individuals from many sides.


    Any additional comments?

    Had I been reading this book (rather than listening to it), no doubt I would have skimmed over much of the battle passages. As I listened, I never felt the urge to skip or fast forward, for the story as told from many different perspectives was so compelling and offered so much insight into the Japanese culture.
    The narration, by John Weiner, was excellent. The book is 42 hours long and I never tired of his voice. He was so convincing that it felt as if he were the author.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Philip 09-24-14
    Philip 09-24-14 Member Since 2014
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    "First rate history"

    Wow. You come away from this book feeling like you actually understand what would posses the Japanese to launch into a war they knew that they would lose if it went on very long and why they fought so hard right to the end. If all history books were this good why would you ever read fiction?

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Walter Pearson 08-28-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Surprising History"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. This book gives a fascinating insight to the War in the Pacific from the Japanese perspective.


    What other book might you compare The Rising Sun to and why?

    Perhaps "Brothers, Rivals, Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, and the Partnership That Drove the Allied Conquest in Europe".


    Which character – as performed by Tom Weiner – was your favorite?

    None.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No this is a long detailed history and requires one to concentrate to get most out of it.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a great history because it does show just how divided Japan was over war in the Pacific. It also shows the nuances of the social changes that were driving Japan prior to 1939.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Scarborough, ON, Canada 08-10-14
    Scott Scarborough, ON, Canada 08-10-14 Member Since 2013
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    "The pacific war from inside the Japanese empire"
    Any additional comments?

    Comprehensive and compelling history of the war in the pacific from the Japanese empire point of view. This is gripping military as well as political history which seeks to shed light on the motivations of Japanese society and the military clique which led Japan into and through its disastrous policies of aggressive expansionism. It is reminiscent of Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and I would say is a must read for those with an interest in WWII. Toland intersperses the narrative with many first person accounts as well as analysis. Pulls no punches while at the same time offers a nuanced take of events. My only criticism is that the primary focus here is the pacific war against the United States with far lesser detail given to the India, Burma, and China. Nevertheless, I found this a monumental work of history. The narration is very capable and keeps things moving along.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DJM Franklin, TN USA 12-18-14
    DJM Franklin, TN USA 12-18-14 Member Since 2008
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    "A Different Perspective, Not a Justification"

    I found this historical account truly fascinating. As I listened to the history I realized that I was as ignorant about the culture of Japan as any of the players in the West at that time. I have read extensively about WWII from a western and European perspective but I really hadn't spent much time considering the Japanese. Such people as Tojo and Yamamoto were mostly one dimensional for me. Toland does an excellent job of pulling back the curtain and giving us a view of what was happening in the Pacific. He also offered some new perspectives on such things as the Bataan Death March. He does not seek to justify what happened but I feel that I have a better understanding of why it happened the way that it did.

    There are some omissions. Korea is barely mentioned and there is no discussion of the germ warfare experiments that took place in China. If History and WWII is an area if interest I'd definitely recommend this book. Much like Anthony Beevor, Toland does an excellent job moving from the macro to the micro so you have a real sense of what it was like to be in the trenches on the pacific Islands or flying a torpedo plane at Pearl Harbor.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt 09-02-14
    Matt 09-02-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Phenomenal account"
    Would you listen to The Rising Sun again? Why?

    No. It was long, and detailed. Something that I'll remember, but not want to revisit.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Surprisingly, I did. I was moved at the end of the book by the Emperor in the final days of the war.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a fantastic account of WWII Japan. Spanning the time period from, roughly, the Marco-Polo bridge incident to the occupation of Japan, the narrative is delivered from the Japanese perspective. The book gives accounts, biography and personal antidotes about the major players of Japan in this time period - the Emperor, the Prime Minister, Ambassadors, generals, etc - but is also does the same for common soldiers, civilians, seamen and pilots. The book explores the human, cultural, economic and religious cost of the war and does a good job of explaining thoughts, concepts and motivations that were and are wholly foreign to the western belligerents.

    This book is a great read for anyone interested in the eastern pacific as the events relayed in this book cast a long shadow over the future of pacific Asia.

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Placentia CA, United States 02-09-15
    Robert Placentia CA, United States 02-09-15 Member Since 2013

    Iranians keep their nukes, Americans lose their insurance.

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    "A proven winner"

    John Toland tells the history of the Japanese rise and fall in amazing detail. I learned a lot. This is my 5th book about Pacific War. Best was Pacific Crucible. This was 2d best. The moment Hirohito met with MacArthur was hauntingly good. Rising Sun takes the time to also be funny! Very welcome.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nate Eagle Mountain, UT, United States 03-19-15
    Nate Eagle Mountain, UT, United States 03-19-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Good read for those interested in the pacific war"

    Similar to Rise and Fall of the Third Reich but not quite there. Still a great read. I recommend it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike From Mesa 07-30-15 Member Since 2014

    MikeFromMesa

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    "A political as well as military history"

    I have read a great many books concerning World War II involving both the European as well as Pacific theaters of war and was not very interested in reading another book centered on the Pacific theater. What drew me to the decision to buy this book is that it offered what was rare in the other books I read, the political background of the Japanese involvement in the war.

    The Pacific Theater of the war is a sort of neglected step-child of the history books. While there are many very fine books concerning the war in the Pacific, the number is much smaller than those books on the European Theater and those books that do exist mostly concentrate on the battles and the difficulty in fighting a war on such a broad front. What has almost always been missing is the political background explaining how Japan found itself being inexorably drawn into a war with the US when many of its political and military leaders believed Japan could not win such a war, Yamamoto perhaps foremost among them.

    I have always believed that the reason for the lack of extensive material covering the Japanese decisions leading to the war was the general lack of familiarity among most readers, myself included, concerning how the Japanese political system worked and the daunting task facing a writer in explaining the intricate and unfamiliar process to the general reader. However Mr Toland, who has written much about World War II, has successfully provided the political background very well in this book. This was not a new task as this book is quite old (first published in 1970) but nonetheless feels fresh and new. While some of the material may have been superseded by more recent scholarship this book is still very worthwhile for anyone interested not only in how the war progressed, but in why the Japanese government took the decisions it did.

    The only problem I found with this book is that some of the Japanese names are very similar and it is easy in the Audible version of this book to mistake one for another. One example is mistaking Tojo for Togo and thus failing to grasp the competing war and peace factions in the government.

    Tom Weiner does an excellent job in narrating this book and I found it to be both easy to listen to and well worth the time. I recommend this book for those interested in knowing the background of the war, but for those interested only in the tactical and strategic decisions and the battles, there are probably better books about the war in the Pacific.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    robert 01-15-15
    robert 01-15-15 Member Since 2010
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    "Exceptional historic account"

    One of the best historical audio books I have ever listened to. Both factual and emotional recounting of Japan's militarism

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • R
    Wokingham, United Kingdom
    6/26/15
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    Story
    "The stupidity of war"
    Where does The Rising Sun rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    As a historic piece of work it has plenty of detail. It opens up the political system that shows there was no democracy and the military were the real power and not the Emperor. It shows a different perspective than what we were led to believe.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The poor quality of leadership. It exposes the fundamental failures of the willingness to waste life for no gain other than that of saving face. The pre Pearl Harbour events especially that took place in the parliament were a real eye opener. It appears no one wanted war with the USA and the European powers but didn't know how to stop it happening.


    Which character – as performed by Tom Weiner – was your favourite?

    Admirable Yamamoto is an obvious choice as he was the man who took them to war but did warn that he could not give them victory - Tom put Yamamoto into the character of not just the tactician but also the political military man


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    The Sun that rises, also sets


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • paul
    WORTHING, United Kingdom
    5/12/15
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    "Long but worthy bit of military history"

    Slightly hard to follow the characters with a lot of similar but different names but I enjoyed catching a chunk of history I never studied . Well narrated book and a gripping story with more humanity than i had expected. After some time it moves from the character of the Japanese to be a catalogue of the various military engements and that was its only disappointment , I dint really get to know more about what was hapeining or being said by the average man in japan in this period . Not sure ill ever understand the Japanese culture for the glorification of death at the time and I hope the people of modern Japan don't understand it either . General Macarther doesn't come out to favourably either . Good book though and would recommend if you want a broad sweep of this period of Japanese military history

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mikis
    Feldkirch, Vorarlberg Austria
    4/28/15
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    "Essential reading"

    Exceptional quality and depth. Good as a thorough recap of a near-forgotten story. Almost forgotten in today's world that is so preoccupied with China's rise.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • MR A M INNES
    3/18/15
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    Story
    "Excellent Miltary history reference."

    Very detailed and accurate. particularly liked the eye witness accounts of Iwo Jima and the atomic bombs. Well narated and an in depth insight from both sides.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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