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The Pacific War Companion: From Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima Review by Patty Rebne

EditedDaniel Marston
Osprey Publishing
Midland House
West Way Botley
Oxford, OX2 0Ph
United Kingdom

This collection of thirteen chapters from multiple historians highlights the major events of World War 2 in the Pacific arena. The book begins with a three-page timeline of the War in the Pacific, and then each chapter tells part of the story; the chapters are arranged chronologically.

There is no "wrap-up" or writing that attempts to unify the chapter, but the endnotes, bibliography, and index are complete. There are 272 pages; the type is quite small, but the pages are not "dense". Osprey includes good pictures, illustrations, and military maps that relative novices can understand even though they are not over-simplified.

The first thing to note about this book is that it is a "companion". This is not intended to be the primary source of information about the War in the Pacific. Instead, the editor has provided a timeline of events, and then a chapter covering in detail each of thirteen different topics.

Osprey Publishing focuses on the military aspects of history, and this book is no exception. Most of the chapters focus not so much on the "why" but on the "what" and "how" of specific battles and attacks. The first chapter provides a lead off to the war in general, but after that, most of the chapters are about specific campaigns or battles.

Each chapter is written by a different author(s); some are professors of history, others of military history, and others retired military officers. Therefore, it is no surprise that this companion is not a narrative. It is episodic. This makes it good for those interested in the specific episodes. This is not a book for someone looking for a narrative story. This book does a good job updating previous histories and taking on propaganda propagated-as-history. For example, two of the most famous incidents of the War in the Pacific, Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima, have been written about endlessly since their occurrence, largely based by necessity on speculation or by choice Japanese propaganda.

From these writings, we have acquired an "accepted history" of these events that gets told and re-told, regardless of its truth or basis in fact. Over the past decade, governments around the world have released previously secret records-military, intelligence and political. The information in these records gives the proof or not to what could only be guessed at before. It gives weight to the arguments toward truth and away from "accepted history" that is no more than accepted propaganda.

This book does a good job of updating the history of this War, and if we know what really happened, we will add to our understanding not only of this war but of how the stories get told and how we need to interpret them.

-- Product Review by: Patty Rebne, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September, 2005