Book Review: The Wars for Asia, 1911-1949


by S. C. M. Paine

New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. xvi, 488. Maps, chron., notes, biblio., index. $39.99. ISBN: 1107020697

China at War, 1911-1949

The primary subject of The Wars for Asia is the continuous series of wars, rebellions, coups, insurrections, and “incidents” affecting China, from the republican revolution of 1911 until the victory of the Communist Party in 1949.  Prof. Paine (Naval War College) reminds us strongly how these conflicts were important not only to China, but globally as well, as they merged into the Second World War.  That war, for China, began at least as early as 1937, and during it the Chinese tied down, and killed, more Japanese troops than all the other Allied powers together.  The “Second Sino-Japanese War” (1937-1945), also helped spark the Cold War and still exercises a powerful influence on international politics in East Asia. 

Paine has some surprises for those not familiar with recent trends in the study of modern China.  The most notable of these is a reappraisal of Chiang Kai-shek’s reputation as a national and war leader, both in “Communist China” and in the West as well. There are some other surprises too, such as Stalin’s role in bolstering Chiang by calling off Mao Tsetung, in order to strengthen Chinese resistance to Japan, and thus secure Russia’s rear during the struggle with Hitler, the German role in helping China against Japan, and so forth. 

An excellent one-volume survey of Chinese military history in the first half of the Twentieth Century, The Wars for Asia will be of value to anyone interested in World War II and particularly the causes of the Pacific War.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

Buy it at



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close