Book Review: The Path of Infinite Sorrow: The Japanese on the Kokoda Track


by Craig Collie & Hajime Marutani

Crow's Nest, NCW: Allen & Unwin/Chicago: Independent Publishers Group-Trafalgar Square, 2012. Pp. viii, 324. Illus., map, append., notes, biblio., index. $24.95 paper. ISBN: 174237591X

The Path of Infinite Sorrow is the first account in English of the remarkable Kokoda Track Campaign in eastern Papua-New Guinea during 1942 written from Japanese sources. 

Authors Collie, a television producer and most recetly the author of Nagasaki , and Marutani, a researcher and translator for the Australian War Memorial, previously worked on an award winning Australian History Channel documentary on the campaign, and then decided to produce this book.  Drawing upon Japanese documents, letters and diaries of participants, and interviews with Japanese veterans of the campaign, the two have written an excellent soldier’s view of the operation, certainly among the most harrowing, for both sides, of the Second World War. While the book has a tendency to take a Japanese perspective on political issues, and tends to play down, though no entirely ignore, atrocities, the account is generally even-handed. 

Although hardly a definitive treatment, and marred by some unnecessary errors (e.g., only two Japanese carriers at Pearl Harbor!), The Path of Infinite Sorrow is certainly a major contribution to the literature of the war in the Southwest Pacific.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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