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Publisher's Summary

The epic, untold story of China's devastating eight-year war of resistance against Japan.

For decades, a major piece of World War II history has gone virtually unwritten. The war began in China two full years before Hitler invaded Poland, and China eventually became the fourth great ally, partner to the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain. Yet its drama of invasion, resistance, slaughter, and political intrigue remains little known in the West.

Rana Mitter focuses his gripping narrative on three towering leaders: Chiang Kai-shek, the politically gifted but tragically flawed head of China's Nationalist government; Mao Zedong, the Communists' fiery ideological stalwart, seen here at the beginning of his epochal career; and the lesser-known Wang Jingwei, who collaborated with the Japanese to form a puppet state in occupied China. Drawing on Chinese archives that have only been unsealed in the past 10 years, he brings to vivid new life such characters as Chiang's American chief of staff, the unforgettable "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, and such horrific events as the Rape of Nanking and the bombing of China's wartime capital, Chongqing. Throughout, Forgotten Ally shows how the Chinese people played an essential role in the wider war effort, at great political and personal sacrifice.

Forgotten Ally rewrites the entire history of World War II, yet it also offers surprising insights into contemporary China. No 20th-century event was as crucial in shaping China's worldview, and no one can understand China, and its relationship with America today, without this definitive work.

©2013 Rana Mitter (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Rhea
  • Fort Worth, TX, United States
  • 10-11-13

The ill fated chang kai-shek

As I believe that I am the first person to write a review on this fast moving account of the china's war of resistance I feel that it is necessary to proclaim how valuable this book is for the WWII buff. Most people are aware of the fact that China was involved in the war but they are not aware to what extent. China in fact was the first theater of WWII and experienced some of the first and most brutal communal war crimes of the war. This book is some what biased towards the Nationalist point of view and that of Chang Kai-Shek in particular. However it explains the communist point of view as well. After reading-listening to this book I came away with a feeling that the communists let the Nationalist camp bare the brunt of all the fighting while waiting for the war to end. Having saved its forces for the upcoming civil war the Communists were better poised to fight then the badly beat National forces. Thus leading to the current communist government in Bejing. As you might be able to tell I was left with a bad taste with the actions of the communist forces durring the battle for Chinas fight for survival. I would suggest this book to any one who was either interested sino-american relations or just WWII it's self.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A big missing piece

What made the experience of listening to Forgotten Ally the most enjoyable?

Discovering things that put much into perspective: China's situation in the 20th century and its evolution, Japan's invasion of China and China's war of resistance, the relationship between the Kuomingtang and the communists (Russian and Chinese), the relationship between western countries and Asia a few decades ago, the character of the much maligned Chiang Kai-shek and the enormous difficulties he faced, how American views of China were formed.

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

Yes, he is generally quite good. His pronunciation of Chinese words is mostly OK (recognizable, which is already better than what I've heard from certain professors specializing in Asia or even China).

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

Yes....not much of the former though I'm afraid.

Any additional comments?

A must for anyone who wants to understand 20th century history.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Questionable historical perspective

Good enough book, however the author apparently chooses to embrace his/her biases, rather than try to avoid them (or at least address and apologize for them). The book focuses on - and gives all benefits of doubt and the author's sympathy to - Shang of the Nationalists. Mao is largely ignored or glossed over while General Stilwell is essentially blamed for the failures of Shang's regime, as well as his well known character flaws.

It's not clear why the author chooses to give Shang ample context and paint scenes of his humanity to cover up or lessen the fact that he was the leader of a notoriously ineffective and corrupt government that ultimately failed, while attacking Stilwell for his (mostly) accurate criticism of the failures of the Nationalists and ignoring Stilwell's precarious position as soldier and diplomat, as well as Stilwell's genuine and well-documented regard for the Chinese.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic Historical Account

For history buffs or even those who just want an interesting true story I would highly recommend this book. It is intriguing as well as aptly performed. Well worth the credit.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • DLKFC
  • Columbus, OH
  • 12-28-14

Simon Vance is the best

Any additional comments?

Simon Vance is my favorite narrator, fiction or nonfiction. Terrific job with the pronunciation of innumerable Chinese names and places. A wonderful book on an all-too-often forgotten part of the Second World War.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Enlightening and Interesting

All I've ever really focused on in the past regarding WW2 is America vs the Nazi's in Europe and against the Japanese in Asia. This book deals with the events leading up to our involvement in China and establishes the underpinnings for what has evolved into current day China and Taiwan. Other than trying to understand all of the players involved in this story it was a great historical saga!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Glaudrung
  • Among the Eldrich Horrors
  • 12-12-18

Biased, incomplete, does not comprehend the army.

Let's start by saying that this is decisively not a military history, it's a political one. The author could only have had less coverage of tactics, weapons, and logistics if he was trying to avoid. This is a great shortcoming as it becomes apparent that the author does not know the first thing about the military.
To list a few faults, the author criticizes how the US did not make China the focus of efforts. That begs the question of how the author thinks the requisite millions of tons of men and equipment could have been brought across jungles and over mountains where transportation was nil.
Author spends a lot of time on just how inept and corrupt the Chinese war effort was, then criticizes the US for criticizing the Chinese ability to actually fight.
Author blames all the friction all the friction in the US-China alliance on the US commander Stillwell's inexperience. If anything, Stillwell died understand the Chinese internal war. Chinese commanders burned their cities and fled befire the Japanese arrived, leaving the rivals to take the fall. Stillwell would have none of that, and didn't realize he was the only one pushing a forward strategy in an army to busy stealing things to actually fight (author even tries to pull the segregation and colonialism cards while doing so).
Author places heavy value on technology and economics in assessing a nation's fighting capacity, ignoring things like camaraderie, discipline, and tactics. When the author does turn to military methods, it is all about the creative use of guerrilla warfare. For some reason, this book has a page on the role of women in the military in WWII China. Author uses the word "militarist" over "warlord." I as a military professional will say these cliches are the product of a modern man who doesn't have any interest in warfighting.
The book grossly oversimplified the Spanish Civil War when it wasn't even necessary to bring it up in the first place.
I could go on, but to get to a worse indictment the author's modern political views are plainly visable. Abuse of the words liberal, progressive, imperial, and pluralist are ubiquitous. Worse, the book goes out of its way to try and equate European colonialism, American hegemony, and Japanese imperialism. Which is something I would ordinarily ascribe to gross ignorance if it weren't in a book pretending to be a comprehensive history.
It should be revealing that a meeting between Chinese generalissimo Chang Ki-Chek and Ghandi was told in full even though it went exactly as the reader would expect and nothing happened. While the decisions sea/air campaigns of WWII are told out of order.
At one point, the author deliberately implied China's corruption woes were western power's fault.
Finally, this book has a lot of opinions when it's stated purpose is only to plug a gap in the historiography.

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  • Yeh
  • US
  • 06-24-18

Chiang cash my check

great book about the second sino-japanese war with a focus on the political and strategical side of the conflict.
however it gets a bit thin at the end while the beginning is a detailed account of China leading up to the war the account of the later years is a bit sparce.
maybe a sequel in the making?
still worth a listen though.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • TL
  • Blue Ridge GA
  • 02-26-18

China Japan War

An exceptional account of how China became a world leader. And the contributions of the three major powers The United States, Great Britain and Russia.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A Different Reality

I never knew or understood the Chinese involvement in WWII or that they were even involved. China was at war well before WWII and had a large impact on our success against the Japanese. I have gains much insight and respect for the Chinese people from this book.