Based on numerous diaries and letters, this book depicts the story of American soldiers in Asia and the Pacific during World War II. The author explores the soldiers' attitudes to the Far East and how they imagined it as a continuation of America's Wild West frontier. The Far East proved to be less easily subjected than the American West, however, and the author explores how the GIs' frustration and fury in Asia and the Pacific presaged the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
'This terrifying, remarkable work examines the attitudes, perceptions, and behavior of U.S. fighting men in the Pacific theater during World War II. Imaginatively drawing on letters, diaries, memoirs, military reports, and contemporary psychological assessments, Schrijvers reveals the social, historical, and emotional roots of the peculiarly frenzied and merciless war that Americans fought in what they regarded as an exotic and impenetrable paradise a conflict that escalated into a campaign of extermination, and a war against the land and nature itself. Schrijvers's sober account of Americans' wartime rage, which manifested itself in wholesale rape and the indiscriminate killing of civilians, is far from a work of crude revisionism he reminds us of the abysmal conduct of the Japanese, and he refreshingly and correctly views the dropping of the atomic bomb as a continuation of the methods used by all the combatants. Nevertheless, this temperate study of murderous fury is among the most unsettling books I've read in years.
- The Atlantic Monthly
"A rich and compelling cultural and social history of American servicemen and -women serving in Asia and the Pacific during World War II."
- The Journal of American History
"Just when it appeared that little remained to be said about the Pacific War, Schrijvers produces the best social history of the conflict to date...This is an important book, not only about WWII but also about the nature of war itself...Highly recommended."
"Peter Schrijvers has pulled a double' by writing a worthy companion to The Crash of Ruin: American Combat Soldiers in Europe during World War II. His study of the soldiers' war against Japan transcends simplistic race-hate explanations and reconstructs the psycho-social context of war in which only the enemy remained the same."
- Allan R. Millett, Director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the University of New Orleans
"Schrijvers' book is a valuable addition to the literature on the war in the Pacific."
- H-Net Book Review
"Schrijvers builds upon earlier works and successfully goes beyond them to provide a scholarly account of the full range of American experiences in the Pacific and Asian theatres. He makes excellent use of diaries, letters, training manuals, and official reports. The book is an impressive scholarly achievement. Schrijvers's vivid portrayal of the American experience in the war against Japan permits us to see that experience in a broader historical context and reveals patterns of thought and action that are enduring features of the American character."
- The International History Review
"One cannot read this volume without coming away with a fresh way of thinking about the subject. Peter Schrijvers has broadened our perspective of the sociology of the American fighting man in the Second World War."
- War In History