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Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan

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Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan

Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan

With startling revelations, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa rewrites the standard history of the end of World War II in the Pacific. By fully integrating the three key actors in the story―the United States, the Soviet Union, and Japan―Hasegawa, for the first time, puts the last months of the war into international perspective.

From April 1945, when Stalin broke the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact and Harry Truman assumed the presidency, to the final Soviet military actions against Japan, Hasegawa brings to light the real reasons Japan surrendered. From Washington to Moscow to Tokyo and back again, he shows us a high-stakes diplomatic game as Truman and Stalin sought to outmanoeuvre each other in forcing Japan's surrender; Stalin dangled mediation offers to Japan while secretly preparing to fight in the Pacific as Tokyo peace advocates desperately tried to stave off a war party determined to mount a last-ditch defence; and as the Americans struggled to balance their competing interests of ending the war with Japan and preventing the Soviets from expanding into the Pacific.

Authoritative and engrossing, Racing the Enemy puts the final days of World War II into a whole new light.


"Racing the Enemy is a tour de force a lucid, balanced, multi-archival, myth-shattering analysis of the turbulent end of World War II. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa sheds fascinating new light on fiercely debated issues, including the U.S.-Soviet end game in Asia, the American decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan's frantic response to the double shock of nuclear devastation and the Soviet Union's abrupt declaration of war."John W. Dower, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II

"With this book, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa will establish himself as the expert on the war's end in the Pacific. This important work will attract a wide readership."Ernest R. May, author of Strange Victory: Hitler's Conquest of France

"In the summer of 1945, Truman and his advisers set a foreign policy course that demanded American use of doomsday weapons not only against Japan but, indirectly, against humanity itself. In this groundbreaking book, Hasegawa argues that the atomic bombs were not as decisive in bringing about Japan's unconditional surrender as the Soviet entry into the Pacific War. His challenging study reveals the full significance of Truman's decision not to associate Stalin with the Potsdam Declaration. It offers fresh evidence of how Japan's leaders viewed Stalin's entrance into the war as the decisive factor. Others have shown that Truman missed opportunities to secure Japan's unconditional surrender without an invasion or the nuclear destruction of Japanese cities. But few have so thoroughly documented the complex evasions and Machiavellism of Japanese, Russian, and, especially, American leaders in the process of war termination."Herbert P. Bix, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan

"In this landmark study, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa gives us the first international history of the critical final months leading to Japan's surrender. Absorbing, authoritative, provocative, and fair-minded, Racing the Enemy is required reading for anyone interested in World War II and twentieth-century world affairs. A marvellously illuminating work."Fredrik Logevall, author of Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam

"The long debate among historians about American motives and Japanese efforts at ending World War II is finally resolved in Racing the Enemy, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa's brilliant and definitive study of American, Soviet and Japanese records of the last weeks of the war."Richard Rhodes, New York Times Book Review

"Without doubt, the best-informed book in English on Japanese and Soviet manoeuvres in the summer of 1945...[Hasegawa] provides an international context sorely missing from most previous work. He has mined Japanese and Russian literature and documentation and, despite much that is based on surmise, provides fresh insight into the extraordinary inability of Japanese leaders to surrender and into Stalin's machinations aimed at maximizing Soviet territorial gains in East Asia."Warren I. Cohen, Times Literary Supplement

"A landmark book that brilliantly examines a crucial moment in 20th-century history...[An] important, enlightening, and unsettling book."Jonathan Rosenberg, Christian Science Monitor

"The most comprehensive study yet undertaken of Japanese documentary sources. The highly praised study argues that the atomic bomb played only a secondary role in Japan's decision to surrender. By far the most important factor, Hasegawa finds, was the entry of the Soviet Union into the war against Japan on Aug. 8, 1945, two days after the Hiroshima bombing."Gar Alperovitz, Philadelphia Inquirer

"One of the first to make a detailed study of the political interplay among the Soviet Union, Japan, and the United States in 1945."Alex Kingsbury, U.S. News and World Report

"As Tsuyoshi Hasegawa has shown definitively in his new book, Racing the Enemy--and many other historians have long argued--it was the Soviet Union's entry into the Pacific war on Aug. 8, two days after the Hiroshima bombing, that provided the final 'shock' that led to Japan's capitulation."Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, Los Angeles Times

"[Racing the Enemy] might be called the definitive analysis of the U.S. decision to use atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Professor Tsuyoshi Hasegawa of the University of California, Santa Barbara, has mined both Japanese and Soviet sources to produce the first truly international study of the Hiroshima decision."Errol MacGregor Clauss, Winston-Salem Journal

"Managing to convey the Imperial elite's thought processes, assumptions and biases is Hasegawa's greatest achievement...Hasegawa's story is a weird, compelling one, and his case for revising our view of the leadup to VJ Day is overwhelming."John Dolan, The Exile

"Hasegawa's study provides the most comprehensive examination yet published on the international factors that shaped the decision-making processes and policies adopted in Washington, Moscow, Potsdam and Tokyo, and which ultimately contributed to Japan's surrender in 1945. Racing the Enemy provides a fresh and multi-faceted perspective on a well-studied topic primarily because the author draws on information from Russian, Japanese and American archives and sources. While this study both complements and challenges the well-informed findings of Asada Sadao, Robert Butow, Richard Frank and Leon Sigal, the international framework in which Hasegawa places the surrender of Japan makes this book a compelling read for students and scholars alike."J. Charles Schencking, Pacific Affairs

"Will we ever really know why Japan surrendered in World War II? In this judicious and meticulously researched study of the endgame of the conflict, [Hasegawa] internationalizes (by a thorough look at American, Japanese, and Soviet literature and archives) the diplomatic and political manoeuvring that led to Japanese capitulation...No study has yet to bundle together the myriad works on the war's end in such a complete manner...This work should become standard reading for scholars of World War II and American diplomacy."Thomas Zeiler, American Historical Review

"Tsuyoshi Hasegawa's Racing the Enemy is a splendid book--the first to examine the end of the Second World War in the Asia Pacific from a comprehensive, international perspective. Based on archival and published materials in Russian, English, and Japanese, it provides a gripping account of the complex diplomatic manoeuvres and political battles that culminated in the tumultuous events of August 1945...Hasegawa has written the first truly international history of the end of the Pacific War. He has recast the contours of the whole debate by bringing hitherto separate literature into a much-needed dialogue. Racing the Enemy will remain essential reading for students of foreign policy and international history for many years to come."Anno Tadashi, Monumenta Nipponica

"This book is a well-researched and provocative analysis of a fascinating yet neglected aspect of World War II: the American public's conventional assumption is that Japan surrendered to the Allies because of American atomic bombs...Hasegawa's conclusion raises tempting hypothetical questions for further research of this topic, and he provides intriguing answers to them."Sean Savage, Historian

"What ended World War II?... Tsuyoshi Hasegawa--a highly respected historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara--has marshalled compelling evidence that it was the Soviet entry into the Pacific conflict, not Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that forced Japan's surrender. His interpretation could force a new accounting of the moral meaning of the atomic attack. It also raises provocative questions about nuclear deterrence, a foundation stone of military strategy in the postwar period. And it suggests that we could be headed towards an utterly different understanding of how, and why, the Second World War came to its conclusion."Gareth Cook, Boston Globe

About the Author:

Tsuyoshi Hasegawa (長谷川毅)

Tsuyoshi Hasegawa (長谷川毅, born 23 February 1941) is an American historian specializing in modern Russian and Soviet history and the relations between Russia, Japan, and the United States. He taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was director of the Cold War Studies program until his retirement in 2016.

Hasegawa was born in Tokyo and received his undergraduate education at Tokyo University. He studied international relations and Soviet history at the University of Washington, where he earned his doctoral degree in 1969. He became a naturalized American citizen in 1976. Among his awards and fellowships are a Fulbright-Hays Research Abroad (1976–77), an NEH grant (2002–03), an SSRC grant (2002–03), a Rockefeller Bellagio Center Fellowship (2011), and a Fulbright Fellowship (2012).[1] He is known for Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan (2005), a study of diplomacy and the end of the Allied war against Japan. The book won the 2005 Robert Ferrell Award from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR). Hasegawa's research also includes the political and social history of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and Japanese–Soviet relations.

Read more:

Can the Atomic Bombings on Japan Be Justified? A Conversation with Dr. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa
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Hasegawa Tsuyoshi
Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press
Year of publication
30 September 2006
Number of pages
JPY 5,011

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