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Review: Japan's Longest Day

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Japan's Longest Day, from August 14th to August 15th 1945, is described with an hour-by hour account, with background, telling the reader of the struggle over the surrender of the Empire of Japan to the Allies in the aftermath of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Compiled from both memoirs and documents, and a number of interviews with individuals involved, it gives tremendous detail, and insight into the thoughts and emotions of those involved.

Much of the suspense of the history, of course, arises from the refusal of many military officers to accept the surrender as a valid decision of the Emperor. Those officers rose up against advisors and Cabinet members and even superior officers, seeking to reverse the surrender order before it became known. Japan's Longest Day tells not only of the coup, but of the struggle within the Cabinet, over the wording of the acceptance and surrender proclamations.

In spite of the inherently fascinating topic, the book itself fails to really grip the reader. The style is choppy, perhaps due to its strictly chronological arrangment by hours, and due to its switching unevenly among its cast of characters. Still, it is a wealth of information, and has a terrific set of glossy black-and-white plates; although history buffs, especially those with interests in Japan or the Second World War, will probably want to obtain it, I don't recommend Japan's Longest Day for the general reader.

Japan's Longest Day. Compiled by The Pacific War Research Society. Kodansha International Ltd., 1968.

ISBN 0-87011-422-0

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