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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.

What Members Say

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4.3 (193 )
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  •  
    Matt 09-02-14
    Matt 09-02-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Scarborough, ON, Canada 08-10-14
    Scott Scarborough, ON, Canada 08-10-14 Member Since 2006
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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.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cassandra 09-07-14
    Cassandra 09-07-14 Member Since 2013
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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.

    7 of 7 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?

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Walter Pearson 08-28-14 Member Since 2006
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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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teresa NEWTON, NJ, United States 10-10-14
    Teresa NEWTON, NJ, United States 10-10-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Shinto vrs. Buddhism"
    What did you love best about The Rising Sun?

    Toland credits Buddism for the Japanese instigation of war. Never a mention of shinto. Odd.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 08-08-14
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 08-08-14 Member Since 2007

    Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton.  In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!! 

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "AN AMAZING & COMPLETE ACCOUNT!"

    Great book for World War II fans. It is very complete and unbiased with lots of little known facts. Much of the book is from the points of view of the Japanese - military, civilians, even the Emperor. Hirohito comes off as less of a blundering idiot here than a royalist burdened with the weight of hundreds of years of history, honor, and "face". I see now how impotent he was at the hands of his Shogun military advisors who wanted to fight until death, to the detriment of innocent civilians. I better understand the concept of seppuku or hara-kiri - an act that made absolutely no sense to me before, but my people were robbed of the Asians intense sense of country and honor to one's family and heritage.

    As a black American, I was a bit disappointed that the only mention of our military men was when some inconsequential Japanese woman who had never seen a black person before was horrified by the sight of the "monsters", fainted, and was told later that her life had been saved by those black G.I.'s. But since most of our heroic battles were fought in the German theater against the Nazis, I will give John Toland a pass this time and still rate this amazing account a full 5-stars. Narrator Tom Weiner does a masterful job with a book that gets a bit dry at some points with its blow-by-blow reading of boring documents and military communiqueés. Well worth 40 hours of your life!

    10 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DJM Franklin, TN USA 12-18-14
    DJM Franklin, TN USA 12-18-14 Member Since 2006
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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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nathan Parsons 12-08-14
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    "A true suprise."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Most definitely yes, in fact I just did, and sending him a link to the sight made me want to review it.


    What did you like best about this story?

    John Toland and the narrator Tom Weiner did an excellent job painting a picture and telling a story to the listener.


    Have you listened to any of Tom Weiner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No but I will.


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

    Nothing extreme, though I was excited, moved, cheered, and felt down trodden through the course of the recording.


    Any additional comments?

    I will say, that you may get lost in some of the Japanse names, but don't worry, the names are not as important as what is happening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zephyr 08-11-14
    Zephyr 08-11-14 Member Since 2014
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    "A fanatastic account of the war in the Pacific"
    What made the experience of listening to The Rising Sun the most enjoyable?

    The style of the writing and the emphasis put on the mindset of the Japanese people as a whole.


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

    This book most reminds me of "The rise and fall of the Third Reich" I thought William Shirer had no equal when it came to writing a captivating historical account but John Toland gives him a run for his money with this work


    Have you listened to any of Tom Weiner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Ive never listened to any other performance of Weiner. However he delivered a great reading here and while his imitation of the voices of various people sounds almost mocking it does help a poor American differentiate between many Japanese leaders with very similar names.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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