Book Review: British and Japanese Military Leadership in the Far Eastern War, 1941-1945


by Brian Bond and Kyoichi Tachikawa, editors

London & New York: Routledge, 2012. Pp. xiv, 176. Maps, notes, biblio., index. $44.95 paper. ISBN: 0415646227

Military Leadership in the Anglo-Japanes War

Noted British military historian Brian Bond has teamed up with Kyoichi Tachikawa of the Japanese Institute for Defense Studies to edit an anthology of articles on Japanese and British leadership during the protracted Anglo-Japanese war in Southeast Asia. The rapid collapse of the British position the Far East and Southeast Asia when confronted by numerically inferior Japanese forces in the opening weeks of World War II initiated years of unsuccessful attempts to drive back the invaders from the borders of India, until victory was attained in the last months of the war. 

For the Allies, Southeast Asia, and especially Burma, were sideshows in the farthest corner of a global war, which was one reason for the frequent poor showing of British arms. But leadership was also a factor, both in British reverses, and also in their ultimate success. This anthology consists of essays by both British and Japanese scholars on various aspects of leadership during the protracted campaign, from the shaping of strategy at the highest levels to particular commanders. Individual essays cover Japanese Prime Minister Tojo Hideki, the very overlooked William Slim, the largely forgotten Gordon Bennett, and the better known Yamashita Tomoyuki.  Although army and air leadership receive attention, there are no essays on the naval leadership of either side

This excellent work, a volume in the Routledge series “Military History and Policy” originally published in pricey hardback edition, throws new light on one of the most neglected campaigns of the Second World War, and is an important work for anyone interested in war in Asia or in strategy and leadership.

Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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