Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945 (Hardcover)

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The epic, untold story of China’s devastating eight-year war of resistance against Japan

For decades, a major piece of World War II history has gone virtually unwritten. The war began in China, two years before Hitler invaded Poland, and China eventually became the fourth great ally, partner to the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain. Yet its drama of invasion, resistance, slaughter, and political intrigue remains little known in the West.

Rana Mitter focuses his gripping narrative on three towering leaders: Chiang Kai-shek, the politically gifted but tragically flawed head of China’s Nationalist government; Mao Zedong, the Communists’ fiery ideological stalwart, seen here at the beginning of his epochal career; and the lesser-known Wang Jingwei, who collaborated with the Japanese to form a puppet state in occupied China. Drawing on Chinese archives that have only been unsealed in the past ten years, he brings to vivid new life such characters as Chiang’s American chief of staff, the unforgettable “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell, and such horrific events as the Rape of Nanking and the bombing of China’s wartime capital, Chongqing. Throughout, Forgotten Ally shows how the Chinese people played an essential role in the wider war effort, at great political and personal sacrifice.
Forgotten Ally rewrites the entire history of World War II. Yet it also offers surprising insights into contemporary China. No twentieth-century event was as crucial in shaping China’s worldview, and no one can understand China, and its relationship with America today, without this definitive work.

About the Author

RANA MITTER is a professor of modern Chinese history at the University of Oxford and the author of several books including A Bitter Revolution. He is a regular contributor to British television and radio. His writing has appeared in the Financial Times, the Guardian, and elsewhere.

Praise For…

"Rana Mitter’s brilliant new book, Forgotten Ally: China’s War with Japan, 1937-1945, makes an important and moving contribution to the historical record by illuminating the largely forgotten war that took the lives of millions of Chinese, yet ultimately facilitated the rise of modern China." -- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger


"Superb." — New York Times Book Review


"Important and compelling . . . Closely examin[es] Beijing's role in the Allied war effort, the heavy and often thankless price paid by the Chinese in their fight against Japan, and the impact of China's wartime traumas on the country's postwar development. . . . Fascinating." — Wall Street Journal


"Powerful . . . Mitter excels . . . in placing China's wartime experience in a robustly international framework. . . . General readers curious to learn more about Chinese history should welcome any new book by Mitter." — Daily Beast


"Rana Mitter's history of the Sino-Japanese War . . . is a major contribution to the one aspect of the Second World War of which we know far too little, and should know much more if we are to understand the new superpower today. It is a model of clarity and good writing." — Antony Beevor, Times (UK)


"Restor[es] a vital part of the wartime narrative to its rightful place. . . . A remarkable story, told with humanity and intelligence; all historians of the second world war will be in Mitter’s debt. . . . No one could ask for a better guide." - Richard Overy, Guardian  (London)


"The best narrative of that long-ago war, whose effects still linger in China today." - Jonathan Mirsky, The Spectator  (London)


"Illuminating and meticulously researched. . . . It is the voice of the Chinese [. . .] that gives the distinctive tone to Mitter’s narrative. From the diaries of Chiang Kai-shek to those of national journalists and middle-class Chinese fleeing the conflict, these first-person observations are woven skillfully into his chronicle of the battles and struggles."  -The Economist


"Forgotten Ally is a breathtaking chronicle of China’s war with Japan from 1937 to 1945, a major theater of World War II whose story most Western readers have never heard in full -- certainly not as Mitter interprets it here. Authoritative and epic, pulsing with life, this is a grand vision of China’s transformation through the cataclysm of war in the twentieth century." -- Stephen R. Platt, author of Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom


"Gripping...He shows that...the east Asian conflict shaped both the outcomes of the second world war and the development of the postwar world." - The Observer


"An important, timely contribution to shedding light where there is currently much darkness... Mitter ’s book demonstrates why to this day the Chinese view Japan with such animosity." -- The Financial Times


"Mitter has done an important service both in pulling together the complex narrative threads of this period and in reminding readers of China’s vital and largely neglected contribution to the Allied war effort... Mitter’s excellent history tells us why we need to remember it." -- The New Statesman


"Rana Mitter has written a masterly account of the war, which blends wide deep scholarship with an accessible narrative...Mitter's great achievement is to have encompassed a multi-faceted story in a readable, coherent and gripping manner" - Jonathan Fenby, The Times


"This monumental new work by Oxford University professor Rana Mitter magisterially surveys this conflict, the broader repercussions of which still resonate across East Asia." -- South China Morning Post


"For decades, argues Rana Mitter in his superb new book, western readers have known too little about China's suffering....Mitter offers a lucid and moving account of the conflict's staggering military tragedies. But it is also a first-rate political and social history if China's wartime years....Mitter's elegant, rigorous and balanced account is an ideal guide to traumas that continue to cast a long shadow over the region." -- TheTelegraph


"This gripping political history not only provides a detailed scholarly account of the Sino-Japanese War but also, in a prologue, offers an admirably succinct introduction to the political history of China in the first half of the twentieth century . . . A story of heroic and determined resistance . . . enlivened by extracts from the writing of Chinese people who endured the war." -- Delia Davin, Observer (UK)


"A masterly account . . . Blends wide, deep scholarship with an accessible narrative that includes an admirable focus on [the war’s] effects on ordinary people . . . Mitter’s great achievement is to have encompassed a multi-faceted story in a readable, coherent, and gripping manner that should rescue this horrific conflict from the neglect it has suffered in the West and explain why history lives on in East Asia." -- Jonathan Fenby, Times (UK)

"Mitter’s narrative élan, in the manner of David McCullough, creates a complex history that is urgently alive. An important, well-told tale of China at war." -- Kirkus

"An important and compelling history of China's World War II experience...Mr. Mitter's book gives China its historical due." -- The Wall Street Journal

"Mitter gathers a generation of research and debate to weave new insights into a sweeping panorama...This is cutting-edge history, and there’s scarcely a dull page. Highly recommended." -- Library Journal, starred

“This is the best study of China's war with Japan (1937-1945) written in any language. It is comprehensive, thoroughly researched, and objective. For anyone interested in how China helped shape today's world, this is a must-read.” — Akira Iriye, Charles Warren Professor of History (emeritus), Harvard University

"Forgotten Ally...deserves to be read by anyone interested in China, World War II and the future of China’s relations with the rest of the world...Mitter masterfully constructs these interlocking stories of battles, famines, massacres, diplomacy and intrigue...Excellent book."— Washington Post


"[Mitter] writes with rare objectivity on subjects that remain controversial today, and his illustrations are both poignant and pertinent...Forgotten Ally is must reading for anyone seeking a full perspective on the Pacific war."-- The Washington Times

"Mitter applies historical empathy to yield fresh insights into the situations of all the actors in the horrific conflict that the Chinese call the War of Resistance Against Japan." -- Foreign Affairs

Product Details
ISBN: 9780618894253
ISBN-10: 061889425X
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: September 10th, 2013
Pages: 464
Language: English