tv Richard Frank Tower of Skulls CSPAN April 17, 2020 8:00am-9:02am EDT
>> good evening, everyone. i'm robert citino, executive director of the institute for the study of war and democracy here at the national world war ii museum. thank you. thank you to the museum for hiring me. i appreciate that. every two weeks i appreciate it. i'm also the samuel senior historian at the museum which is perhaps my proudest boast. welcome to another installment of our meet the authors here's here at the museum where we bring you the best new world war ii literature and the men and women who write and create it. for i have just two nights, a man who needs no introduction, let me carry out the tradition of the national world war ii museum at all all of public programming. are there by any chance any world war ii veterans or homefront workers in the
audience tonight? there we go. all right. i knew there were two right up front. [applause] and to say we thank you for your service is an understatement of the century. in the veterans of any other service or any other era please stand and be recognized if you would. that's always wonderful. [applause] thanks to all of you for your support and service. we have an incredible group of friends with us tonight here in the museum and i would like to mention it and it does each of them. c-span, the good folks from c-span are here filling the nights events of its always one of the. i want you to be under best behavior because c-span is forever. i would like to knowledge of those watching at home on our live stream and again is always the trustees in the audience. we have the chairman of the board, paul hilliard, i'll ask you to stand one more time if you would.
[applause] ted waggling its year with some friends from california. robert pretty is in the audience. i know this because i've just seen him, and there he is. [applause] and, of course, my dear friend and we don't have an anybody without them, dr. mike. [applause] good to see you as always. finally, friends professors alan and bobby dupont from the university of new orleans. welcome to the two of you, dear friends and colleagues, proud to call you colleagues. [applause] i'd also like to thank the publisher ww norton for making this event the official launch for the book under discussion tonight and for covering the travel expenses associated with it. tonight were going to be hearing a book about a book that deals with the pacific war. when you analyze a huge library of world war ii books and what it do for living, the first
thing you notice is the pacific war is not receiving method of attention that the work in your past and, in fact, i think it has received far less than it deserves. fortunately, here at the museum we've always had the services and the friendship of one of the leading scholars of the pacific theater, and that is our dear friend richard frank. he isn't employed by the museum but you would know it. he works on all our public programs and advises us on any number of areas of expertise in areas of interest especially related to the pacific war turkey is the author of guadalcanal, downfall, the end of the imperial japanese empire amongst other works. richard has asked me to keep this short and going to try but the list of accomplishments i think is worth noting. rich is a founding member one-time convener of the president to counselors advisory board that guides our museum and all we do related to content. he's an annual presenter at our
international conference on one or two. a fan favorite for sure when rich stands up to talk people listen like ef hutton. he was a keynoter at a recent guadalcanal symposium and still it's been over museum education travel programs, overseas key historical advisor for our wonderful road to tokyo permanent exhibit to keep involved at institutes and because i called and guide on the site for all things pacific. just a quick bio, which graduated from university of missouri back in 1969 at which he served four for years and ys army during the vietnam war come served a tour of duty with the 101st airborne. in 1976 in 1976 graduated from the georgetown university law center. i met rich in the way historians meet, on a history channel shoot. which was pretty famous, pretty well-established and i wasn't. i thought which was about 200% nicer then had to be doing that shoot at that's what i learned
about it that that is an expern his field, he burns with a desire to make sure you become an expert in his field. he's a compelling speaker but he's also one of the nicest people anyone is ever met and i think maybe that's the best thing of all. tonight which will be speaking about the first volume of his intended trilogy on the asia pacific theater. "tower of skulls" is called. did that keep it short? it's my pleasure to call my friend to the podium, ladies and gentlemen, richard frank. [applause] >> thank you. thank you very much. i want to thank the museum for having here for this event for this kickoff event. this museum is just a fabulous institution. it's the perfect harmony of mission, vision and execution, and it's a great institution in
this entire country i think in terms of history. one of our traditions here is that we like to tell stories. let me start with one. leon graduate from the united states naval academy in 1941. he was a survivor of the uss arizona and was awarded the navy cross, just below the medal of honor for his heroism in 1945. the interviewer, was going through various things and finally, tell us about your days at the academy. leon says actually i i did very well at the academy. i was very strong in math and science, but my downfall was english. you see, my parents were jewish and i was born in france come first three years i spoke i spoke french. then we moved to the u.s. and the next two years i spoke yiddish. and then we moved to new jersey, but they don't speak english in there.
[laughing] so in a way that tie-in is that this is also not something we don't speak or speak about, and that's this trilogy that i have been preparing on what i call the asia pacific war. we have in world war ii the greatest story in human history here it literally went over the globe. touch almost all of the estimated 2.3 million human beings who lived at that time and, in fact, has cascaded through generations right to today. we have in this developed what i call the standard narrative. and that standard narrative we use in u.s. and that used for decades we safe world war ii began in september 1939 when adolf hitler invaded poland.
then we have the other half, the other part of world war ii which we conventionally referred to as the pacific war and that beginning december 1941 with japan's attack on the u.s. at pearl harbor. what i'm doing with his trilogy basically is to rewrite what we call that second part of world war ii, to call it an asia-pacific war that simply the pacific war. and that is specifically intended to write in to the history what i call the ark of asia. in 1937 that arc which basically ran in the west from what was then india which is also pakistan and bangladesh, ran east across china to japan and it also ran southeast to what estelle called indonesia. in that region there were over a billion people, very close to half the population of the globe, if not half. yet among that whole population, that whole region, most of those
people live in the colonialism and the only four nationstates with any claim of sovereignty, two, siam which are shortly bee thailand, japan actually had sovereignty, and mongolia which was a soviet satellite and had no real sovereignty, and china which had highly compromised sovereignty. everywhere else it was a colonial institution. the one notable special case, the philippines work effectively in american government but they've been promised independence and their acting as a commonwealth managing their own domestic affairs. today in that exact same region we have at least 19 major nations, of course including india and china, and they all have sovereignty. and the story of how they got to where they are today is
fundamentally connected to what happened between 1937-1945, and that is the long-term arc of this trilogy. it's not just about what happens from 37-45. it is how those events formulated what happened with all these other nations and this enormous area of asia which now is so instrumental in the world we live in today. the other thing about talking about this arc of age is this. we don't know exactly how many human beings perished in world war ii. we usually use about 60 million as a suitable figure. i attempted to put together a number from academic sources and various scholars. i think the total death toll in the asia-pacific phase of the war is about 25 million. of that 25 million only about 6 million were combatants, soldiers, sailors, airmen. of that number in fact, the number of americans, combatants
who perish in the asia-pacific theater was about 110,000. that tells you that there are 19 million noncombatant deaths. the number of japanese noncombatants who died in the war i think probably is approximately 813,000 but just for purposes of this discussion i just call the japanese total and million or 1.2 million. what that tells your event is for every japanese noncombatants who died, and a -- asia-pacific war between 17 and 18 of the noncombatants died, about 12 or chinese. if you take the total number of chinese deaths and do a projection along the eight years of war, 1000 chinese noncombatants are dying every single day of the war for eight years. if you take the other part of asia that japan occupies most after december 1941, it's not half as many, about half the time. it also works out to about 4000
deaths per day. by december 1945 there are approximately 8000 non-japanese noncombatants dying every day, and who knows, 16 million have already died when we get to that point in the war. what i'm doing with his trilogy is attempting to write back into our standard narrative a billion people, about 85% of the deaths or more in asia-pacific war which is 29 people which is about a third the total number of deaths and also tying those events into where we are in the 21st century. i like to think i'm very gracious in answering questions, queries, even challenges to my work at the one thing to which i will not respond quietly is a charge that i lack ambition. there are four features of the trilogy that are also present in this book. the first of which is that is
most essentially a work of synthesis putting together the very best scholarship i could gather from all over the world being guided by the wonderful group of colleagues i met over the years who frequently are the top leaders in their particular field and their guidance to other sources. they are also vetted the manuscript. i've also drilled down wherever i can in certain areas of particular interest to me like radio intelligence, u.s.-japan diplomacy and 9041 and other areas to present my own work in this but fundamentally i would describe this as synthesis. the second feature is that as indicated this is an attempt to patch together in a single narrative with fair balance to all parties and all situations both what we used to call the pacific war between the u.s. and japan and this war across the ark of asia. but the third thing that characterizes this war, there's wonderful quote from president
franklin roosevelt used as a epigraph and he was asked by his ambassador to japan in december 1940 for guidance and how relationships between the u.s. and japan should be conducted. president roosevelt said the fundamental thing to remember is that events in europe, in africa and asia are all part of one global war. and what i have tried to do throughout this narrative is to be looking back and forth to what's going on in europe and what's going on in the asia-pacific region to show where they do or do not affect one another. the final thing about this is although colonel jim miller treatment provide the basic skeleton of this whole thing, this narrative branches while out from that into political, economic and social effects of the war because those are so critical as to how we're going to get to the story of how we ended up in in the 21st century in this region.
what i would like to do tonight is something take two instances or examples out of "tower of skulls" to show all these features linked together. the first am going to talk about is china in 1937 and 1938, 193d you'll see the chronology, the military affairs and how this branches out. the first thing is to bear in mind that china in 1937, i call it the fractured state. at that time japan had occupied in 1931 and dominated provinces leading down toward the great wall in the northeast of china. beyond that it was not simply as commonly given the notion that china has been divided between the nationalists under shanghai check and the communists under mao zedong. it's a very much more complex picture. the rest of china is basically one gigantic mosaic of regional and local powerbrokers. the most dominant of those,
however, is the nationalist party under shanghai check. they occupy seven promises in the lower valley. these are julie the most prosperous in china. they contain about 170 million people which is somewhat over a third of the total of which is about 450 million chinese at that time. once you get behind with the nationals hold, it's just this incredible crazy quilt of various other powerbrokers both regional and local. at that time in july 1937 the chinese communist party is very nearly at its nadir. they have come up with call the long march winner driven out of their original base area. they set up around -- and at that point the area controlled by mao and the chinese communist party has about 1.45 million people which is not 3% of china's population. it's three-tenths of 1% of
china's population. the chinese armed forces at the time are likewise fractured. the nationalists have about 300,000 men under arms. they're generally the best trained and best equipped in china. that's about one out of seven of the total of the 2.1 million chinese under arms. the chinese communists at that point a 50,000 men on the roles of the red army only 31,000 have weapons, or about 1.5% of all the chinese under arms. you're looking at a china not only fragmented and all of these different leaders of regional and local level but the armed forces also were fragmented. and chiang kai-shek should be viewed not as sort of the commander-in-chief of one great chinese army come here sort of the preside over this loose confederation which is going to take on japan. that brings us to chiang himself. his reputation has gone through
a roller coaster in the opinion of the public and also among historians. what was particularly bilevel or invaluable to me was that in the last 15, 20 years this been a great outpouring of fresh new archival-based history about china in this period and one of the most important aspects about that is that they were published in 2007 and it's difficult to understand how dramatic the war was affecting peoples attitudes and understanding what chiang was all about. quite basically one part of the alternative was that chiang was never interested in fighting the japanese, old interested in having a showdown battle with the chinese communists. in fact, what you get from the diaries and other documents is after japan seized manchuria in 1931, chiang do in order for china to ultimately gain its
sovereignty, there would have to be showdown battle with japan. he understood as soldiers just what a a formidable task woulde to take on imperial japan. and he believed china must seek unity before resistance which is part of the policy pursued and secondly launched a great number of initiatives, planning initiatives to prepare china for the moment when they would take on japan. we have documentary trail on that that shows that's exactly what he was doing. he gave a talk to senior nationalist leaders in march 1934 in which he said there were only 1000 days left until war with japan and he was off i only 43 days with that statement. he also projected that basically when this war broke out between china and japan ultimately they would be a world war and china would gain allies in this world war would be able to subdue japan which was beyond china's
basic capability at that time. that's a very different story slant on chiang. what happens in july 1937 is known outside of china as a marco polo incident which is a skirmish between chinese and japanese forces which through a chain of events i talk about is eventually going to lead to sustained combat with the next eight years. when this initially breaks out, chiang decides the hour has come where he must now strike. he could no longer ask for forbearance in this policy are preparing for war. now we must make war. as he looks around he looks at where the fighting first world war broke out and that's up in northern china which has terrain which he believes greatly favors the japanese and greatly disfavors the chinese. so he believes the correct place for the chinese to make their first stint is, in fact, in shanghai where it's crowded urban areas will maximize the strength of chinese numbers and
small arms and minimize the japanese strakes in firepower mobility, air support and other things like that. so there is going to be this tremendous battle in shanghai which goes on from august to november 1937. before it's over three-quarters of 1 million chinese troops are going to fight in iraq shanghai. a quarter of the main japanese troops are going to fight in shanghai. this is by far by far the biggest battle in the city. what you have to understand when this battle breaks out is that chinese central government has for literally almost exactly a century been unable to sustain a war against a westernized power for more than it does to you, usually a lot less and most of these clashes that ended any humiliating chinese defeat. so the fact that society goes on in shanghai for days, then weeks
and then months, even as a chinese began to slip away, it still is astonishing something about effective sustained resistance that it had been wanting for china for almost a century. this is a delicious moment in this black humor. a "new york times" reporter was talking to a japanese imperial army spokesperson we call now a spin doctor. the "new york times" reported basic design you know, this battle has been going on for an awful long time. i have two routed the chinese by now? the japanese spokesman said well, the chinese know so little of tactics, they don't know when to retreat. the chinese eventually you have to retreat. they are defeated and they are pretty much shredded by the end of the battle. but notwithstanding the fact that they lose, from the chinese
perspective, the fact they've held out the sustained resistance is in hopes, food like the american battle of bunker hill. we eventually lose the hill but we are sustained in the notion that we demonstrated that we really to stand and fight toe to toe with the british, so it is with the chinese and the japanese. and so it is also that china is going to continue to go through one enormous period of pain and suffering the next eight years and that begins when the japanese armies leave from shanghai and march to what was the nationalist capital where they commit what is now referred to as the rate of nanjing. i'm not going to touch on that except to say that the japanese get there and the chinese of course still have not given in. so they continue on the river heading towards the wuhan cities. you've heard about the wuhan cities recently.
that's where chiang if i quit his cup and his military headquarters at that time, about eight and a miles. it's now 800 miles inland. there begins a huge battle for wuhan that takes most of 1938. when this battle begins the chinese achieve a notable operation victory which is like recharging the battery to continue the war. certainly their senior leaders begin to believe if we just hang on and tough it out we will prevail. the japanese, one of their friends breaks through in june 1938, and for a moment it looks like the japanese might be able to deliver a knockout blow and get the wuhan and capture the city and also knockout the government and military headquarters. in one of the most difficult most devastating decisions to chiang kai-shek is going to make in his lifetime, he is convinced by his subordinates at the only thing left to stop this japanese
advance is to breach the yellow river dikes. he gives the order, and in june june 1938 east dikes are breached and unleashes an incredible torrent that coats three provinces of china until summer between a half-million, and almost 900,000 chinese by various counts. it is the greatest environmental disaster of world war ii by a very large margin. and the other thing about this, can you imagine an event of this magnitude of this nature occurring in europe and you have never heard of it in all the years you have seen history as a world war ii? it's one of the most striking examples to me of how little we have come to know or report enter history about the asia-pacific war. the fighting continues through the whole summer.
the japanese who are superior in firepower and military craft have air support, naval support but they also use poison gas. they are the only major combatant who uses poison gas on the battlefield in world war ii, as far as we know. they use that as the trump card, whenever they're in a difficult situation. the chinese recipient of the poison gas in addition to everything else. in october 1938 the japanese close in and capture wuhan. strangely enough rather than regarded as a disaster for the chinese, it is in the chinese side a reinforcement of the notion that if we just tough it out and hang on, eventually we can prevail. strangely enough, we found out many, many years later that in tokyo at imperial german headquarters and most senior operations officer, in their war
diary, a record at that point back the basically it now looks as though it is impossible for japan to prevail against china by military means alone. they have purchased a quagmire, not a victory or success. so now i have talked about 37-38 in china and highlighted the military effects. what i want to get into is what's happening internally and domestically, lyrically, economically as a result of these campaigns. the first thing we notice is in the summer of 1938 there's this event in the wuhan cities which is identified by historians as the most open three, the freest expression period on mainland china that is going to occur in the 20th century. there is a united front that is more than just a slogan at that
time that free expression of holocaust the political spectrum, there are publications across the political spectrum. no editor of any publication is killed in wuhan, i'd like you would fight in chinese history prior to that, or after that. also as a result of the japanese advances there's been this tremendous mingling of the chinese intellectuals from all over china. this is a seminal moment in chinese history, although it's a wistful one as to what might've been. the second thing that significant that comes into play at this point is there's this stupendous generation of refugees as as a result of japs war in china. there are a wide range of estimates. i use 45 million which is 10% of the total chinese population has been entered into a refugee
taken one time or another in the worker that our estimates what about this. no one really knows for sure. the reason for this they are not hard to do soon. first of all the japanese are living off land as they advance taking food and whatever else they want wherever they go. that will stimulate refugees. the japanese also in the habit of not executing military prisoners and they take, at the end of the entire war, the japanese are asked to hand over all the chinese prisoners of war they held, in the present 56 individuals as their pow take over eight years of war. and they also make it a practice of looking around at any mail from t nugent on up that they think could event or was a soldier or might be a soldier and severely executing them as well than the actual pow. pilots are such level of sexual violence that the japanese release as a march across china. all this generates this incredible tidal wave of
refugees flowing inland and away from the japanese. this title wave of refugees do something that's a very important moment in chinese history. up to this point in time the central government of china in terms of what we call social welfare had only two responsibilities that it carried out. one was the maintenance of the dikes, the second was in some instances maintaining green reserves against famine, otherwise everything that we would now regard as social welfare or safety net is all done by local benefactors or local associations. there was no responsibility to the central government. in response to this refugee crisis the nationalist launch an enormous effort from the top like housing, clothing, medical care, education for all the massive refugees. they give them a title, people of righteousness. identifying them as much
adjustments in the war against japan as the armed forces. this leads to something else. when the war breaks out the national i can vacation of most chinese particularly in the hinterland is very weak. the identification is primarily to the family, ideally four generation under one roof and local community or clan. the war begins to percolate through the chinese, in chinese populations. this sustained ocean of a national identity. that's going to have an enormous impact as china goes forward from this war. the other thing that takes place in this 37-38 timeframe is a japanese template a blockade of china. i have described this as the most important naval effort of world war ii you have never heard about. what happens is the japanese imperial navy begins to produce
a blockade around the chinese pacific coast. eventually the imperial army will capture some of the ports and inland waterways, and what this leads to our four tremendously dramatic effects on china which are going to have an extremely important effect on the outcome of the war. the first of these is that they effectively cut off the outside flow of munitions and after the chinese go through the stockpiles that you put together, and in view of the low productivity and lack of resources in the interior, they eventually after some years of intense fighting are in desperate need of resupply. that's a whole separate issue but the basic point is the chinese get extremely little outside support picks him from the soviets come later some from us. i'll get into how little i really amounts to what this is going to constrain the chinese armed forces for the entire rest of the war. the second thing is that as the
professor of cambridge points out, the chinese were not self-sufficient in food at this time. they imported ten-20% of the total food supply by imports, and the japanese with his blockade cut off it's important also the japanese army is feeding off the chinese population, taking food out of the population to the japanese army. i'm sorry, chinese -- i meant japanese army. this will have an effect in china after 1941 1941 when thed situation which initially was quite satisfactory begins to plummet that into crisis level. the third thing that the blockade serves to do is together with the land operations is it boots the nationalist out of the base area. instead of holding seven provinces where they can appoint local officials, collect taxes or recruit, raise food supplies
for the army, the nationalists are pushed into the hinterland. the army has been severely damaged by its fighting and it's intimidation effect on the other region and local leaders is eroded. consequently the nationalists are forced to this position would have to get along with all these local powerbrokers in terms of survival. although they carry the imprint as though they are the government and get one for everything that goes on, the basic problem is there's this diffuse problem including a great deal of corruption which is not necessarily the nationalists but throughout china. most dramatically what the blockade does is this. the chinese central government had for more than century depended upon custom duties as its primary source of revenue. about 48% in 1937, half the revenue of the chinese government came from customs
duties. what happens when you lose all your ports, are your waterline? you lose your custom duties. there goes your revenue. in addition, the japanese operations with naval support. they also occupy some of the richest lands in china heading further into the tax base. it's estimated after 1938 the revenues at the center, a china has collapsed by about 2/3 to 3/4. how do you make war without money? what you do is what the nationalist did. they print money and they started inflation. of all the things that are going to undermine the nationalist cause in china over the course of the war, it's probably inflation is the most corrosive of all. it that only directly affects everyone's livelihood if you're a government employee you are purchasing power has plummeted by two-thirds and three-quarters. how are you going to make into me to get the family or whatever? it's an incentive towards corruption.
and i try to show how we go from the military operations into how it merges into what happens politically, socially and economic in china and at this will have tremendous the fact is outcome of china in the asia-pacific war. let me take a much shorter time to talk about one of the feature of the trilogy, and that's the place where think the asia-pacific and the european face of the war merge together. that is december 1941 with pearl harbor and the success declarations for but my view what really becomes a really used, fusion between asia-pacific and the european war it's in july 1941. this comes this comes about first of all because hitler's attack on the soviet union in june 1941, the initial assessment and london and in washington is that the soviets will collapse the official u.s. estimates, one to three months.
so it seems for the next several weeks as the best information incidentally i found out was the "new york times" published the communiqués of bald combines every day of the war with maps. and the only thing that the outsiders could tell about what's going on in the soviet union are from these communiqués. they make no resemblance of what's going on about the what you do coincide is where the fighting is taking place. use this enormous penetration of the soviet union and in the last ten days of july 1941 it stops. for the first time it looks like the soviets might survive. the strategic implications of that for the war, particularly the war against hitler are almost impossible to overstate. so what happens among the western allies? the question is what can they do to help the soviet union?
the british are overextended. the americans are not pretty. the logistics, munitions to the soviets are difficult. washington london think and believe that if the japanese were to come into the war and join the soviets in the attack or join the germans, that might be a knockout blow against the soviet union. they decide what's most important thing to do is to keep china in the war to keep japan tied down. so they've been receivable information from harry hopkins who had been on a mission for president roosevelt. hopkins was the principal advisor, a a combination of national security adviser and chief of staff. he had gone to moscow and at interview with stalin himself and in the india stalin had said when hopkins said what are the
most immediate things you need? stalin said i did at the aircraft guns and aluminum. hopkins comes back with a message that obviously you can't use aluminum on the battlefield right away. stalin is think were going to survive over here. also the soviet foreign ministry tells how can still of the us to make a declaration that if japan would enter the war against the soviet union, that u.s. would enter the war against japan. hopkins can't make a pledge but it reinforces the notion that in moscow they see it the same way, they keep in the chinese, keeping the japanese from attacking the soviet union is critical. so what is going to happen is that the u.s. will negotiate with japan and what of the japanese looking for? they want out of the china quagmire and the two basic proposals. they want the u.s. either to agree to oppose a settlement on the chinese which effectively
acknowledges japan has one, the chinese are defeated, or the use would agree to force the chinese into negotiations and then abandoned the chinese on the assumption the chinese would then have to submit. when you look at the two approaches, diplomacy at this point, you see on the one hand, japanese one china defeated. on our side we want china to survive. obviously there's not much room or any room for compromise between those proposals. what roosevelt is going to do is partly in response to the japanese advance into southern indochina but also after he's gone through these collaborations with churchill and heard from harry hopkins, he realizes that one of the most important things he can do is to cut off the supply of oil to japan where providing japan with 75-80% of petroleum. there's a petroleum. there's a moral dilemma. we have been providing the japanese war machine with this petroleum to wage war against
china. can you imagine what they would say if we been providing 75 or 80% of which will to hitler? the problem the roosevelt faces is the strategic dilemma because he knows if we were to cut off japanese oil they would simply advance down to the dutch east indies and sees oil reserves there. there would not only have oil and continue to kill the chinese but there be in a stronger position. he decides a flexible restriction of oil production to japan is now going to become a total embargo because ultimately are you going to provide the japanese with oil to attack the soviet union? that's a decision he makes at the time and that is the mode again what we see the unification of the asia-pacific war and the european war. let me go on rapidly here in
view of the time. i found two of the piece of evidence that are critical to show what they are thinking at this time. canadian prime minister mackenzie king has a very close relationship with fdr and after meeting with fdr in november 1941 mackenzie king comes back and writes in his diary that they believe a a brk in chinese resistance will lead to a break in russian resistance showing the close connection between the survival of china and the survival of the soviet union. the same thing happens later when churchill advises roosevelt that things i'd is about china and if the chinese collapse obviously are hazards we can also increase. if you go back to the state papers related to generate at the time you will see very much issue of keeping china in order to hold consisting the soviets is very much in mind. that's the moment as indicated when i think the two regional wars he come truly fuse together
even before the attack on pearl harbor. the end of the trilogy was the japanese empire and the run after december 1941. this enormous empire covering seven time zones. within the empire they never have about 516 million human beings, or just over about a fifth of the total population of the world, and they are dug in and preparing to defend it. the narrative of the first of all human inns with the surrender of american forces on the island on six may 9042. the second the second volume picks up literally the next day the seventh of may when the battle of the coral seas occur at the japanese empire in hollywood had at zenith another great slide begins. volume two will come through continue through to august 1944 with the end of the marianas campaign. volume three will pick up
probably in september 1944. 1944. volume three will go in considerable into a discussion about what happens in the postwar as i get back to the theme of how what happens in 37-45 influences where we are today. we have been very patient and i appreciate your attention, and i think we are now want to throw it open to some questions. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, rich. ladies and gentlemen, in the crowd if you have questions please raise your hand and i will bring the microphone to the rich, we're going to start towards the back in the center aisle as soon as i get there. >> what does strategic changes could've been made in hindsight what of shorten the war or
improve u.s. position of the war? >> the question is what decisions could fdr have made that might of shorten the war. and my short answer would be i'm not sure the were many i could of shorten the worker there are whole lot they could've lengthened the war without any trouble. i gave a talk about guadalcanal back earlier at one of the things i emphasized in that is it's very difficult now to recapture just how grim things looked in december 1942. the. the axis have been triumphant from october 1935 to that moment, and we were in a very, very deep hole. and at that point in time as -- sorry, having a senior moment here. said if you ask someone in the spring of '19 42 how the war would come out, they would not have been able to say. it's not like there's an easy quick way to end the war much
faster, in my view. >> we have a question in the back. >> i wanted to ask you about soviet aid to chiang kai-shek in the late 30s, early '40s and how important do you see that? >> a couple of comments. first of all, stalin i think played his cards in the far east better than anyone else did through most of the first couple of years of the war. he clearly recognize the value of china in keeping japan tied down much the way i talked about what happened in 1941. the soviet union became a principal supplier such as it was of chinese arms and equipment, aircraft. they also sent pilots, and i have the numbers. trust me, you can find it in the book. the problem was that the supply
line for the soviet union was overlain. they use camels to deliver some of the supplies, and after june 1941 when the soviets were in their own supreme peril they cut off the supplies to the chinese. this is a theme that starts in this fine and continues on. and you really crunch the number of what the chinese were getting versus what they needed, it's really appalling throughout the war. but the soviets with a great supplier there for a while, particularly and 38, 39, 40. >> rich, we had a question here. the battle of shanghai, one book is called the stalingrad of the -- what where the similarities? >> i think it's clear that it's of this enormous urban fight, very nasty urban environment. some pretty vivid descriptions of what it was like to fight in shanghai, shanghai is not like a european city. the roads, the alleys are very
narrow. there are no clear fields of fire. buildings are very close together. once again this was part of what chiang identified as making shanghai desirable as a battlefield. if you just had a lot of guys and had small arms, this was a good place for them to fight as opposed to out in the open plains with the japanese could outmaneuver them and smothered in in firepower. from that standpoint the sort of house to house very nasty fighting warehouses, locations exchange hands five, six times is very similar to what happens in stalingrad. the difference is like i said, ultimately the soviets have the power to win at stalingrad. the chinese don't have the power to total defeat the japanese at any point here, and the battle in shanghai serves to stoke up chinese resistance for the duration of the war.
>> rich, in the front to your right. >> thank you for a wonderful talk. can you comment on the steel will and burma road, , how effective it was in supplying the chinese, or was it more of a symbolic effort? >> that sort of leaps ahead, and the touch on that. the chinese had opened what was called the burma road because it was a road that ran from the port of rangoon in burma up to place in burma and then i rode over to china. it was a very crude road. it was not very effective. you consumed an awful lot of gasoline just to navigate it. at one point they were estimating you would have to put 15,000 tons into a vehicle at the beginning of the month to get summer between five, 7000 times total into china. eventually stillwell will wage a
campaign in burma in 1944 early 1945. they will reopen the burma road. for the first couple of months it passes significant tonnage. then the monsoon hits and there's a tremendous book and air force transportation pilot called the hump. it's the best single account i've seen that gives you all the stats and data and basically what he says is about after this burst in early 1945, the road basically collapses as a major supply line. they send assessors washington to look at the road versus the airlift, and in those days they call them the green eye shade guys. they come back and say basically the airlift is more effective than the road is, which is quite a revelation to me. but once again, and i'll get into this in the later finds as a system that tonnage points out
when the next countries beginning to hit china in the latter part of 44, early 45, most of the tonnage goes to support aviation activities by the 14th air force with the american presence and stairwells presence in china and by the count the actual amount of supplies go directly to chiang kai-shek and his forces, about three pounds of every 100. >> rich, the next question comes on line from rusty did the japanese waste their submarine force by not attacking allied merchants? >> that's an interesting -- the japanese viewed their submarine forces primarily part of of thr fighting force to attack enemies main fleet through the main fleet units here they did not engage in the commerce war that we eventually shifted to in high gear and a devastating effects on the japanese merchant marine,
hence the whole japanese economy. clearly they could've done more in that area but one of the problems with retrospective switch of notion of us which of the japanese to attacking calms with the submarines, we had tremendous advantage of code breaking which told us where the ships were going to be. the pacific is a very, very big ocean. you can concentrate your sufferings around the obvious terminus is, the port at one end or the other but that's also where the answer submarines will be concentrating. it's not so obvious the japanese were going to have even if they had switched enormous success against our commerce, they would probably have protected the war. we had to provide escorts more so than we ended up doing. >> next question in the audience to your right. >> first of all thank you very much. this was an excellent, very interesting presentation. what i think it's a pretty simple question, hopefully easy to answer. do you have a tentative date for
volume two two and volume threo be published? >> you are not cleared for that information. [laughing] i hope to turn out the next one expeditiously. what i will say, mindful of who might be listening to this, what i will say is that his first volume took a lot longer because i had not that a lot of work in the 37 to mid-41 period. now when we get to may 42 we are in my wheelhouse. this is the thing i've done for decades. i've already done a lot of 1942 and some 1943, and it goes a heck of a lot faster than this earlier period did. i'm hoping to have this out in a reasonably quick time. i'm reluctant to give an exact date, and if i did i would have to kill you. >> we're going to go with walter here to your right. >> i will try to ask a slightly
easier question. if memory serves didn't the german government of the german army provide an arms and ten to the nationalists in the 20s and 30s? the day, assume sometime they probably abandon the chinese. >> right. you're basically correct. the comment is about the german support for the chinese -- actually chiang kai-shek sought german advisors, brought in high-ranking retired german officers in 1937 when chiang is wondering about what to do. the german advises him to attack to the east. the germans always kelly to attack to the east. [laughing] he also acquired a lot of german arms and equipment. they had trade. they gave the germans tungsten and the germans sent supplies. of course the whole issue of hitler's allied with the ban been kicked in and at that point then hitler ordered the german
advisors to be pulled out and they were pulled up. many of them reluctantly. chiang turn to soviet advisers including some very distinguished officers of the red army are going to become a prominent during world war ii. but yes, there is a time when the german advisors i very prominent in china and very important in china. >> the next question is online and might be the last question that it comes from a text from my buddy, dave walker. i would like to let the crowd know and the crowd watching online, dave has been a charge of our social media here at the museum for over four years, and this week is his final week here at tonight is is i know week texting me in the middle of these talks, and and i like everybody to get around of applause or dave walker for his great service and great work you at the museum. [applause] >> the question is, the battle of no mom hung.
you cover in your book but could you explain the overall strategic significance of that? >> briefly a goes like this. for the japanese imperial army, the supreme and me was always russia or later the soviet union. they worked overtime on how the going to do with the situation because they knew they were outgunned and outnumbered to develop strategic operational and tactical doctrine also about how to fight and prevent against the soviets from our perspective, everyone else's perspective they followed that doctrine throughout the asia-pacific war and one of his most important tenets was the solution to any problem is to attack. in 1939 the japanese become entangled in a border dispute with the soviets around this nondescript place in manchuria. to make a long story short the
japanese attempt to attack to establish what you think is a border. the soviets will were mounted e counter attack and pulverize the japanese division that was engaged in this. it's a tremendous shock to the japanese imperial army. it cited i think properly as instilling tremendous caution into the japanese army, imperial army by attacking the soviet union thereafter. although it's quite clear that in 1941, there is a significant opinion within the in peru army they should join the germans and attacking the soviet union. they just can't get their act together, and also because american action particularly oil embargo, they don't have the means to sustain a war against the soviet union while they don't have any oil. so it's very important, but it's very little outside of us few
specials or whatever but is just one part. i have a whole long chapter about that. also tyson to not only the soviet -- japanese doctrine also whole battle ethics that the imperial army follows. they say a private was captured at nomohan, japanese prime his unit was being overrun. they had no bullets left and his officer had them line up together and they run the bayonet through their throats. he survives and goes back and because he's been captured, he's interrogated and even though history is clearly indicated by his wounds, he's mr. guilt of having been captured. so there is a penalty for that. that's the imperial japanese army. i want to thank you all very much. [applause] >> we want to thank you, rich, for a wonderful presentation. before you leave the stage you have one more obligation. those members who are here with
us tonight who signed in, you are about to possibly have your name drawn. >> i have the name john wilson. >> there we go. he is one of our regulars so that's what you get for being here regularly. john, you get a copy of the book and he will personalize it for you and they will ask which to draw one morning for a membership goodie bag, as it's been described to me. >> i have ted pritzker. >> there we go. we want to thank you all for being here. want to invite you to go over to kill roy's for the bar or café normandy for dinner tonight, please be sure to come back thursday night for our brand-new special exhibition on the ghost army which is opening thursday march 5, and also march 25 as
our next meet the author featuring mary lane on "hitler's last hostages," which is on the artwork that hitler had stolen during the war. but most important let's thank richard frank for a wonderful presentation on a wonderful book. book. have a great evening, good night. [applause] .. >> former deputy national security advisor kt mcfarland details her time in the trump administration. and later new york times reporters jennifer steinhaur the largest class