Stalin's War on Japan (Hardback)
The Red Army's 'Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation', 1945
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Did Japan surrender in 1945 because of the death and devastation caused by the atomic bombs dropped by the Americans on Hiroshima and Nagasaki or because of the crushing defeat inflicted on their armies by the Soviet Union in Manchukuo, the puppet state they set up in north-east China? Indeed, the Red Army’s rapid and total victory in Manchukuo has been relatively neglected by historians.
Charles Stephenson, in this scholarly and highly readable new study, describes the political, diplomatic and military build-up to the Soviet offensive and its decisive outcome. He also considers to what extent Japan’s capitulation is attributable to the atomic bomb or the stunningly successful entry of the Soviet Union into the conflict.
The military side of the story is explored in fascinating detail – the invasion of Manchukuo itself where the Soviet ‘Deep Battle’ concept was employed with shattering results, and secondary actions in Korea, Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands.
But equally absorbing is the account of the decision-making that gave rise to the offensive and the political and diplomatic background to it, and in particular the Yalta conference. There, Stalin allowed the Americans to persuade him to join the war in the east; a conflict he was determined on entering anyway.
Charles Stephenson’s engrossing narrative throws new light on the last act of the Second World War.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, William Harris
I have recently finished reading an ARC of Charles Stephenson's marvelous study of the Soviet attack on Japan in the closing months of World II entitled "Stalin's War On Japan", due to be published shortly by Pen and Sword. I am pleased to report that the volume is both well written and quite illuminating in its discussion of the Soviet actions which occurred in compliance with their treat obligations to the Western Allies. Among other things, the text includes a fairly detailed study of Soviet deployments and planning in the period leading up to hostilities. What is more, and perhaps most tellingly, it demonstrates how far the Soviet forces in the Far East had come since the collapse of Nazi Germany and its European satellites and allies in the West. The carefully coordinated and overwhelming forces Stalin assembled for his attack on the Kwantung Army as well as the superb leadership, training and equipment that marked the massive assault force demonstrated how far the Soviet military had come since they had first engaged Hitler's Wehrmacht. Just as important, the much vaunted Kwantung Army, once an elite and highly feared armed force instrumental in supporting and prolonging Japan's adventure in China and the war in Asia was revealed as nothing more than a paper tiger, long drained of its elite units and populated, in the end, by whatever the Japanese could throw into the line, with weak air support and practically no armored support against a Soviet force constructed on the model of the massive armored armies employed against the Nazis. It is a fascinating and little understood feature of the Pacific War, and should be read with an eye towards the US employment of nuclear weapons as well as the fear engendered among Western leaders by Japan's apparent determination to fight to the death. I urge anyone interested in the decision to deploy nuclear weapons as well as the early post war foreign machinations of the the former Allied states to examine this work, It is well worth our examination.