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The German blitzkrieg stunned the world in 1939-1940, and so too did the Japanese "blitzkrieg" of 1941-1942 in the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Malaya, and Burma. However, the remarkable Japanese land offensive involving operations of equivalent scope and complexity has received only a fraction of the attention. This is the story of that campaign. One of the few his The German blitzkrieg stunned the world in 1939-1940, and so too did the Japanese "blitzkrieg" of 1941-1942 in the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Malaya, and Burma. However, the remarkable Japanese land offensive involving operations of equivalent scope and complexity has received only a fraction of the attention. This is the story of that campaign. One of the few histories that tells the story of the Pacific War from the Japanese side, this is the long-awaited overview of the years when the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) was conducting its seemingly unstoppable ground campaign in the Far East. It includes extensive background and biographical information on Japanese commanders, including Homma and Yamashita. In just eight weeks following December 7, 1941, the IJA pushed the Americans out of the Philippines, and defeated the British to captured Manila, Hong Kong, the Malay Peninsula, and the great bastion at Singapore--called the "Gibraltar of the East." They also forced the capitulation and occupation of Siam and the occupation of Burma. A month later, the Japanese had added the Netherlands East Indies, with an area and depth of natural resources more than twice that of Japan, to their trophy case. In "The Imperial Japanese Army," author Bill Yenne recounts how the IJA faced and surmounted technical challenges that the Wehrmacht did not have--transportation. Whereas most of the German conquests were reachable by highways or rail lines, all of the IJA operations required ship transport, and most required amphibious landings. For example, in the Malay Peninsula campaign, the IJA famously used bicycles for the drive on Singapore. Unlike most histories of the Pacific War that focus on the Allied experience, "The Imperial Japanese Army" examines the year of victory from the Japanese perspective, when the mighty Japanese naval and ground forces swept all before them both throughout the Pacific and on mainland Asia.


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The German blitzkrieg stunned the world in 1939-1940, and so too did the Japanese "blitzkrieg" of 1941-1942 in the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Malaya, and Burma. However, the remarkable Japanese land offensive involving operations of equivalent scope and complexity has received only a fraction of the attention. This is the story of that campaign. One of the few his The German blitzkrieg stunned the world in 1939-1940, and so too did the Japanese "blitzkrieg" of 1941-1942 in the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Malaya, and Burma. However, the remarkable Japanese land offensive involving operations of equivalent scope and complexity has received only a fraction of the attention. This is the story of that campaign. One of the few histories that tells the story of the Pacific War from the Japanese side, this is the long-awaited overview of the years when the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) was conducting its seemingly unstoppable ground campaign in the Far East. It includes extensive background and biographical information on Japanese commanders, including Homma and Yamashita. In just eight weeks following December 7, 1941, the IJA pushed the Americans out of the Philippines, and defeated the British to captured Manila, Hong Kong, the Malay Peninsula, and the great bastion at Singapore--called the "Gibraltar of the East." They also forced the capitulation and occupation of Siam and the occupation of Burma. A month later, the Japanese had added the Netherlands East Indies, with an area and depth of natural resources more than twice that of Japan, to their trophy case. In "The Imperial Japanese Army," author Bill Yenne recounts how the IJA faced and surmounted technical challenges that the Wehrmacht did not have--transportation. Whereas most of the German conquests were reachable by highways or rail lines, all of the IJA operations required ship transport, and most required amphibious landings. For example, in the Malay Peninsula campaign, the IJA famously used bicycles for the drive on Singapore. Unlike most histories of the Pacific War that focus on the Allied experience, "The Imperial Japanese Army" examines the year of victory from the Japanese perspective, when the mighty Japanese naval and ground forces swept all before them both throughout the Pacific and on mainland Asia.

30 review for The Imperial Japanese Army: The Invincible Years 1941-42

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chin Joo

    I had originally thought that this book was a study of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) but it tunred out to be a book on the different campaigns that the IJA fought from 8 Dec 1941. The subtitle: The Invincible Years 1941-1942 is an accurate one, for the IJA seemed unstoppable throughout 1942 as they beat the allied forces in every South-East Asian territory including Malaya, the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, and even Burma. But in trying to show the invincibility of the IJA, the author c I had originally thought that this book was a study of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) but it tunred out to be a book on the different campaigns that the IJA fought from 8 Dec 1941. The subtitle: The Invincible Years 1941-1942 is an accurate one, for the IJA seemed unstoppable throughout 1942 as they beat the allied forces in every South-East Asian territory including Malaya, the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, and even Burma. But in trying to show the invincibility of the IJA, the author covered too much and was thus only able to say very little about every campaign. It is good if the reader is just trying to get an overall sense of the IJA's exploits in South-East Asia, but it comes across rather unsatisfying. Adding to the problem is the author's apparent indecision about what he should give attention to in this spread. Take for example Bali, which was but a bit player in the Japanese's drive towards South-East Asia, but the author dedicated a chapter talking about the history of Bali and how the IJA landed on it, without really having to fight, because it was almost undefended. That doesn't really accentuate the invincibility of the IJA. I also found the author quoting too much from other books giving one the impression that his sources are mainly other books and there was nothing original in this work, except that it is a summary of what others have said. On a matter that has more to do with personal taste, I find the author's style annoying sometimes. A few examples may help to illustrate: "...you might say that it was almost a rival army to the IJA itself, or you might even omit the use of the word "almost"." (pg 42) "His transfer from China felt to Tsuji like an exile, and it was." (pg 20) "The troops discovered that malaria was almost routine and maladies such as dysentery were actually routine." (pg 304) Not knowing anything about what happened beyond the Malayan Campaign, I learned much about the campaigns in Borneo, Java and Sumatra fromt his book. But the parts where I have already known about, this book has added nothing. To be fair to the author he did not set out to write a detailed account about all the campaigns, he just wanted to show that the IJA was invincible in those years (at least that is my interpretation of his intentions from the title of the book). To that end, his results were mixed. A more useful reflection for the reader would be to ask - why did the Japanese embark on the Southern expansion? The obvious answer would be for the resources, especially the oil in the Dutch East Indies. But why? Did they do all these to sustain their war in China? If we keep probing along this path, we might trace the roots of their military adventures. And it might just turn out to be an enlightening exercise.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Heinz Reinhardt

    This book is an excellent overview of a forgotten aspect of the Second World War: the Japanese conquests, ala Blitzkrieg, of Southeast Asia. Bill Yenne takes us from the formation of the Imperial Japanese Army following the Meiji Restoration in the 1860's all the way through the invasion of China in 1937, and the quest for expansion to seize precious resources for the war economy. Several of the Japanese officers are closely monitored in this fine work: Yamashita (conqueror of Malaya and Singapo This book is an excellent overview of a forgotten aspect of the Second World War: the Japanese conquests, ala Blitzkrieg, of Southeast Asia. Bill Yenne takes us from the formation of the Imperial Japanese Army following the Meiji Restoration in the 1860's all the way through the invasion of China in 1937, and the quest for expansion to seize precious resources for the war economy. Several of the Japanese officers are closely monitored in this fine work: Yamashita (conqueror of Malaya and Singapore), Homma (doomed to have a difficult go on the Philippines and largely forgotten afterwards), Tsuji (a brilliant General Staff Officer who thought so much of the 'Southern Road' strategy that stunned the world), Tojo (ambition personified, the man who dreamed of running the Empire his way, and did, to its ruin). All of these men, and more, shine or fade in the light rays, and shadow cast by, the Rising Sun. And all of them are the main characters in this truly excellent book. The IJA was truly one of the great formations in all of Military History. Outnumbered, sometimes outgunned, but only rarely truly outfought the IJA cut a swathe of destruction and conquest throughout Asia in a shockingly brief time span. From December 8, 1941 till the end of May 1942 the Japanese blitzed into Hong Kong, Malaya, the Philippines, the Marshall's, the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), Burma and into New Guinea where the Blitzkrieg of the Rising Sun finally began to sputter out. So much of this success, however, and the IJA's true greatness, was its ability to closely cooperate with the Imperial Navy, and the air elements of both the IJA and the IJN. The Japanese Navy, and its devastatingly easy victory over the combined Dutch, American, British and Australian Fleets in the Battle of the Java Sea, ensured the fall of the Indies. The IJA fought brilliantly against the Americans, British, Australians, Dutch and Chinese. All of them suffered catastrophic defeats at the hands of the Japanese. Singapore's fall, in a single week no less, and by a severely outnumbered Japanese force, would go down in history as the greatest British defeat in history. This was a phenomenal book, at times reading like a military thriller rather than an academically studied work of military history, and best of all it highlights a little discussed chapter of the Second World War. Highly recommended.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    History is written by the victors, and in accounts of wars and military campaigns invariably the story of how the ultimate winners won dominates. This is very much the case for the Asia-Pacific theater of WW2, where details of Allied victories over forces of the Empire of Japan are more forthcoming and widespread compared to the initial years when the latter successfully invaded and conquered vast swathes of territories formerly held for centuries by Western colonial powers at the time. This exce History is written by the victors, and in accounts of wars and military campaigns invariably the story of how the ultimate winners won dominates. This is very much the case for the Asia-Pacific theater of WW2, where details of Allied victories over forces of the Empire of Japan are more forthcoming and widespread compared to the initial years when the latter successfully invaded and conquered vast swathes of territories formerly held for centuries by Western colonial powers at the time. This excellent book is a rare example of scholarship detailing the seemingly unstoppable advance of Japanese forces over Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific, describing in detail the order of battle, sequence of events and thought processes of the commanders as they blitzkrieged their armies and navy over this vast theater of operation. In a matter of months the Japs were able to expand their empire by millions of square miles and subjugate more than a hundred million civilians under the aegis of the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere". The audacious aggressors caught the paltry defenses of Britain, Dutch, American and Australian forces completely off guard and ruled over Malaya, Burma, Indonesia and the Philippines for almost three long years before being ordered to lay down their arms by their Emperor. While the invasion of Malaya and downfall of Fortress Singapore have been retold countless times and studied in depth, lessor known are the campaigns of conquest over Burma and even less so that of the Dutch East Indies. So it was enlightening to learn how the latter territories were overcome by Japanese military manoeuvres. The author even covers the sporadic attacks on Australia and the West coast of America that many thought heralded their imminent invasion at the time. The turning point eventually came in New Guinea and the Pacific, where the Japs were unable to maintain their initial momentum and quite literally were stopped in their tracks by American forces. Similarly, having overstretched their supply lines in Burma, the IJA failed to press on with the attack into Eastern India and suffered heavy losses inflicted by much stronger Allied forces latter in the war. Bill Yenne manages to cover these ground and sea battles with sufficient detail and excitement yet without boring the reader with too much minutiae, at least most of the time. The exceptions being when he listed the names of every warship that took part in a certain sea battle or land invasion! He also maintains an element of human interest in detailing the biographies of key Japanese commanders like Tojo and Yamashita, to name the two most well known. Their careers are covered from beginning to ignominious end at the courts of the Allies after Japan's defeat. It was interesting that the political conflict between these two had led to the latter's 'exile' to the Northern front in Manchuria after his brilliant success in Malaya. Had Yamashita been instead utilized in Burma or the Pacific perhaps the Japs could have further forestalled their inevitable strategic defeat.. Finally, it was also interesting to see how varied the reactions of the local populations were to the overthrow of a set of rulers for another over the course of WW2. This ranged from indifference in Malaya to covert and overt support for the invaders in the East Indies and Burma, where the fires of Independence were fanned and resentment for former imperialist overlords caused many to take up arms on the side of the Japs. The end of WW2 shaped the geopolitics of the region to this day. Never before and likely never again will one country so successfully conquer so many others through sheer force.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Phil Geusz

    A mostly very readable history of the sudden and violent growth of the East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. While I was saddened by a rather severe gaffe involving the USS Arizona's location at a given time, which was off by an ocean and many thousands of miles, for the most part I really liked this work. The best aspect was that it covered the politics and national goals that drove what in turn became the strategic imperatives behind the whole thing. Military history without politics, when covering A mostly very readable history of the sudden and violent growth of the East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. While I was saddened by a rather severe gaffe involving the USS Arizona's location at a given time, which was off by an ocean and many thousands of miles, for the most part I really liked this work. The best aspect was that it covered the politics and national goals that drove what in turn became the strategic imperatives behind the whole thing. Military history without politics, when covering subjects as widely-ranging as this one, is a cold, empty and ultimately futile study. For example, this is the first book I've ever read on the Far East operations of the era that intelligently dealt with the aspirations of the Siamese and explained why they behaved as they did, rather than merely reporting troop movements in that part of the world. Not a five star book, for there are better. But not all that many.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Simon Binning

    This is a straightforward telling of Japan's expansion through South East Asia in 1941 & 1942. But I struggled throughout the book to find it's purpose. The author hangs the story from the life and careers of two generals - Yamashita and Tojo - but it obviously covers many others, and they come and go throughout the work. As a blow by blow account, it is a worthy work, giving a lot of detail about the various units used in invading the various countries and islands. I think in the end, it is the This is a straightforward telling of Japan's expansion through South East Asia in 1941 & 1942. But I struggled throughout the book to find it's purpose. The author hangs the story from the life and careers of two generals - Yamashita and Tojo - but it obviously covers many others, and they come and go throughout the work. As a blow by blow account, it is a worthy work, giving a lot of detail about the various units used in invading the various countries and islands. I think in the end, it is the title that misleads. Although China is mentioned, this is far better seen as a work about how the European Empires lost their possessions in the Far East. Most of the territories conquered had belonged to either Britain, France or the Netherlands (and America in the case of the Philipines). These bits of empire fell like a pack of cards - they were mostly impossible to hold, militarily - and Japan gained a false overconfidence from their capture. In the end, the book is unsatisfying. It contains much detailed information, some interesting passages about the culture within the Japanese Army (and the mutual hostility between it and the Navy), and is useful as a chronology of the Japanese expansion. But there is very little analysis or interpretation, which would have taken it to another level.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sito Escayola ankli

    Good review of the dazzling operations of the Dai-nippon teikoku rikugun from Dec ’41 to June ’42 with japanese perspective. Insightful view of Yamashitas great victory in Singapour in which barely 30k japanese defeated 100k british troops commanded by the lethargic Percival. Also nice analysis of the less known campaings in Borneo and the Deucht East Indies. Well researched and documented. Well written and concise. Worth it

  7. 5 out of 5

    William B.

    The True Story of Japan During WWII Mr Yenne did a fantastic job of documenting the history of the Japanese military during WWII. He writes the facts. It is indeed ironic that the Japanese lost the war but obtained their main objective--ultimately riding Asia of its Western colonial rulers.

  8. 4 out of 5

    John

    The author covers a lot of material but not too deeply. The background of commanders; historical development of the IJA (to include naval and air commands), history of conflicts, decision to strike south, operations, order of battle, tactics, political implications, etc. Probably as well organized as possible considering the scope of the work.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Roger

    An immense subject, some parts of which have been done better and much more thoroughly elsewhere. However if you want an overview of the build up to the war, some of the lesser known aspects of the initial campaigns, this is good. I liked the way it was rounded off.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lim Song Yi

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nick Capo

  12. 4 out of 5

    Barry Sierer

  13. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  14. 5 out of 5

    valerie joy leadbitter

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rob

  16. 5 out of 5

    david walker

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jack

  18. 4 out of 5

    lbert buro

  19. 5 out of 5

    john p fields

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Sosa

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Aciares

  22. 4 out of 5

    Raymond

  23. 5 out of 5

    Robert Knapton

  24. 5 out of 5

    Norman

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Channell

  26. 5 out of 5

    Eric Matson

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeremiah

  28. 4 out of 5

    A

  29. 5 out of 5

    Robby Boucher

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael Hanson

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