Warriors of the Rising Sun
A History of the Japanese Military(amazon)
Robert B. Edgerton (View Bio)
Hardcover: W. W. Norton & Co., 1997; Paperback: Westview Press, 1999.
Until the 1920s the Japanese army and navy were known as the most gentlemanly of soldiers, especially in their treatment of civilians and prisoners of war. Edgerton's book shows how traditional Japanese militaristic culture evolved, absorbing Western and Russian cultural elements to become the most barbaric army in modern history.
"The book is well documented and has an excellent bibliography. It is well worth reading for it gives both Japanese and Americans an insight into Japanese military history and thinking and raises the question: if Japan was a responsible military power once, why can't it be now?" — The New York Times Book Review
"In contrast to their notoriety in World War II, Japanese soldiers in prior wars conducted themselves with what European observers regarded as admirable humanity (except against Chinese). Explaining how atrocity eclipsed civility between Japan's first industrial-age war in 1894 and its 1945 defeat is Edgerton's primary aim, which he pursues in a straightforward account of Japan's wars in that period.... Edgerton raises those explanations to help readers make sense of the catalog of horrors exemplified by the rape of Nanking. Solid military narrative, with interesting psychological speculation." — Booklist
"An anthropologist's clear-eyed appreciation of how Japan's military — justly famed as a chivalrous ally and adversary in the Asiatic conflicts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries — became a bestial rabble-in-arms that committed unspeakable atrocities during WWII.... An incisive account of a consequential state's use and abuse of military power." — Kirkus Reviews