Ian Buruma is the Luce Professor of Democracy, Human Rights, and Journalism at Bard College. His previous books include The China Lover, Murder in Amsterdam, Occidentalism, God's Dust, Behind the Mask, The Wages of Guilt, Bad Elements, and Taming the … see full wiki
Most of us think that V-E day and V-J day were the end of the Second World War, and that is true as far as it goes. In this thoughtful, well-written book, the author takes us through the many events which occurred after those famous dates.
We read of the problems encountered by the Western Allies in Germany, trying to pick up the pieces of a shattered economy, only to have problems understanding the mind set of the people, and also contending with the Soviets established in the Eastern part of the country.
What I found most fascinating about this book was the American occupation of Japan, and what happened there. MacArthur was the man in charge, and he had little liking for the average Japanese. His assistants, many of them liberal followers of the New Deal, couldn't make sense of the system in place there, and tried to import American ideas of democracy to a country that had only known elite and structured government for centuries. That everything eventually seemed to succeed is amazing!
The Allies in both sectors began to rely on many of the same people against whom they had fought, out of pure realization that those folks were basically essential to help keep their countries afloat economically, and also in other spheres. It seems that there was serious punishment for underlings, but the "big guys", such as Krupp, got away, for the most part, because they were needed.
The last part of the book discusses the establishment of the United Nations, and that is also an eye opener. The fraternal feeling among the Allies and the Soviets began to show cracks in the attempt to construct an organization that would be responsible to bring peace to the entire world. We all know how that failed miserably, but give those people credit for trying.
All in all, this is an excellent book that contains (at least for me) a lot of new information, and I highly recommend it.
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