by Mark Felton
Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2007. Pp. ix, 212.
Illus., append., notes, biblio., index. $39.95. ISBN:1591142636
Atrocities committed by Japanese troops in China and elsewhere during World War II have been extensively documented and well known to even the most casual student of the war. But criminal acts by personnel of the Imperial Navy have largely been overlooked. This oversight is remedied by Slaughter at Sea, from the author of Japan's Gestapo: Murder, Mayhem and Torture in Wartime Asiaand othe rworks on the Asia-Pacific war.
Slaughter at Sea covers, often in grim detail, numerous atrocities by Japanese naval personnel, the torture and murder of prisoners of war, including American pilots during the Midway Campaign and many submariners, as well as the brutal treatment of civilians.
Felton attributes this to Japanese culture. He fails, however, to explain why prior to the onset of the ongoing "China Incident" in the 1930s, Western observers considered Japanese wartime behavior toward prisoners and civilians to be very "correct," notably during the Russo-Japanese and First World Wars.
Despite this failure, the book is useful for those with an interest in the Pacific War or the Law of War.