Monday, May 27, 2019

Review of "The Battle of Okinawa: The Typhoon of Steel and Bombs," by Masahide Ota

Review of

The Battle of Okinawa: The Typhoon of Steel and Bombs, by Masahide Ota ISBN 4906034012

Five out of five stars

Of the battles in the Pacific between the Empire of Japan and the Allies, Iwo Jima seems to grab the headlines and attention while the battle of Okinawa dwarfed it. On Iwo Jima approximately 110,000 Allied service members faced off against 21,000 Japanese. The battle raged for about a month and there were very few civilian casualties.

 The Allied operation on Okinawa was the largest amphibian operation in the Pacific Theater of the war, with over a half-million Allied personnel taking part against approximately 96,000 Japanese and conscripted Okinawans. Roughly one-third of the civilian population died in the three months of intense and brutal combat.

 The Battle of Okinawa was really the last possible chance the Japanese military had to deal a blow to the Allies strong enough to lead to a negotiated settlement. It was where the kamikaze and other suicide attacks were the fiercest, as the Japanese High Command was reaching a level of desperation.

 This account of the battle covers both sides, including the significant arguments that took place between the Japanese commanders. Some wanted to stay on the defense, arguing that every day the battle continued was one more day the homeland stayed relatively safe from invasion. A significant question is also raised, “Could a blockade and siege have led to a surrender over time?”

 The action on Okinawa was decisive in removing all ambiguity regarding the ultimate result of the war. It also demonstrated to the American commanders that an invasion of the Japanese main islands would have led to hundreds of thousands of deaths. Some estimated the number of American combat dead as a half-million. Predictions of Japanese deaths of military and civilians were in the millions. In fact, some American commanders used phrases like “Okinawa from end to end.”

 This is an excellent book that should be read by all people interested in the last months of the war in the Pacific. The horrific fighting in Okinawa was a clear prelude of what was to come and had a great deal of influence in the decision to use nuclear weapons.

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