Valley of Darkness (Magill's Literary Annual 1979)
Thomas Havens, Professor of History at Connecticut College, has written important books on the intellectual history of modern Japan: Nishi Amane and Modern Japanese Thought and Farm and Nation in Modern Japan: Agrarian Nationalism, 1870-1940. In Valley of Darkness he turns to social history, vividly describing Japanese society under the rigors of war, 1938-1945. Using many published memoirs and articles previously untapped in English studies, Havens shows how the war transformed the life of ordinary citizens.
The book opens with the government’s Spiritual Readiness campaign, begun after July, 1937, and designed to stimulate patriotic fervor for the war with China. Contrary to accounts which have stressed the ideas of the expansionists, the Japanese public was initially apathetic, not jingoistic. Solidarity and patriotism had to be assiduously cultivated by official propaganda. A good deal of attention is paid to such measures taken before Pearl Harbor, and to the economic mobilization and social regimentation imposed on society during the Pacific war. The final phase of the war on the home front opened with the persistent bombing of Japanese cities in late 1944 and reached its horrible finale with the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945. Havens relates the personal tragedies suffered, as civilians paid for the mistakes of their military leaders; he also reveals the remarkable resiliency and...
(The entire section is 1840 words.)
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