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Eagle Against the Sun

The American War with Japan

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Historian Ronald H. Spector, drawing on declassified intelligence files, an abundance of British and American archival material, Japanese scholarship and documents, and the research and memoirs of scholars, politicians, and the military men, presents a thrilling narrative of American war in the Pacific.

Spector reassesses U.S. and Japanese strategy and offers some provocative interpretations. He shows that the dual advance across the Pacific by MacArthur and Nimitz was less a product of strategic calculation and more a pragmatic solution to bureaucratic, doctrinal, and public relations problems facing the Army and Navy. He also argues that Japan made its fatal error not in the Midway campaign but in abandoning its offensive strategy after that defeat and allowing itself to be drawn into a war of attrition.

Combining impeccable research with electrifying detail, Spector vividly recreates the major battles, little-known campaigns, and unfamiliar events of this brutal 44-month struggle. He reveals that the U.S. had secret plans to wage unrestricted submarine warfare against Japan months before Pearl Harbor and demonstrates that MacArthur and his commanders ignored important intercepts of Japanese messages that would have saved thousands of lives in Papua and Leyte. He skillfully takes the reader from top-secret strategy meetings in Washington, London, and Tokyo to distant beaches and remote Asian jungles with battle-weary GIs. Throughout, Spector contends that American decisions in the Pacific War were shaped more often by the struggles between the British and the Americans, and between the Army and the Navy, than by strategic considerations. Revealing what really happened in the course of a conflict that ended with the most deadly air raid ever, this contribution to WWII history adds a new dimension to our understanding of the people and forces that determined its outcome.

Ronald H. Spector is an award-winning scholar of modern military history and has taught at the National War College and the US Army War College.  A frequent contributor to scholarly journals, his publications include In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia and After Tet: The Bloodiest Year in Vietnam. He is professor of history and international affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University.

"Spector has done the impossible and done it with dazzling brilliance. Mining a warehouse of material with absolute control, he has produced a superbly readable, insightful, gripping, unbiased one-volume history of the American-Japanese war that is at the same time a glorious celebration of the American spirit."
—Clay Blair, Washington Post Book World

"The best one-volume history of that complex conflict. . . . No future book on the Pacific war will be written without paying due tribute to Eagle Against The Sun."
—Drew Middleton, The New York Times

"Excellent. . . . Likely to be for a long time to come the standard, comprehensive history of the Pacific Ocean War."
—Russell E. Weigley, Distinguished University Professor of History, Temple University