Studies of collaboration have changed how the history of World War II in Europe is written, but for China and Japan this aspect of wartime conduct has remained largely unacknowledged. In a bold new work, Timothy Brook breaks the silence surrounding the sensitive topic of wartime collaboration between the Chinese and their Japanese occupiers.
Japan's attack on Shanghai in August 1937 led to the occupation of the Yangtze Delta. In spite of the legendary violence of the assault, Chinese elites throughout the delta came forward to work with the conquerors. Using archives on both sides of the conflict, Brook reconstructs the process of collaboration from Shanghai to Nanking. Collaboration proved to be politically unstable and morally awkward for both sides, provoking tensions that undercut the authority of the occupation state and undermined Japan's long-term prospects for occupying China.
This groundbreaking study mirrors the more familiar stories of European collaboration with the Nazis, showing how the Chinese were deeply troubled by their unavoidable cooperation with the occupiers. The comparison provides a point of entry into the difficult but necessary discussion about this long-ignored aspect of the war in the Pacific.
A fascinating book that offers a wealth of material on issues and events that are not well known. The prose is informal and engaging, bringing the reader into the problems Brook faced in researching such a sensitive topic. The stories he explores are part both of a distinctive Chinese history and a common (and difficult) history of conquest and rule in the twentieth century.
Brook has written a very rich study, drawing on exceptional primary sources, that brings forward new facts and deals with burning issues.
Brook has with great care taken up the sensitive topic of Chinese collaboration with the Japanese conquerors during the Sino-Japanese War--a subject that the Chinese are still hesitant to address. His study concentrates on local collaboration in the Yangtze delta region in Shanghai's hinterland, avoiding the more shocking cases of puppet regimes in north and northeast China and the 'national government' in Nanjing. China, unlike France after World War II, had no chance to work out the moral and psychological issues related to collaboration, and even today outrage at Japanese atrocities obscures questions of Chinese collaboration. Brook builds his thoughtful analysis on Japanese archival documents, Chinese memoirs, and interviews. By concentrating on the local level, he makes vivid the personal relationships between Chinese and Japanese administrators as they dealt with day-to-day problems. He concludes that there was no shortage of Chinese elites ready to work for the Japanese, but that the relationship remained complicated and tense.
[A] finely researched and subtly nuanced study of collaboration in the Lower Yangtze Valley during the initial year of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-45... What is remarkable is that Professor Brook has uncovered from both the Chinese and Japanese sides archival and memoir literature of a quality that allows him to present case studies that illuminate the ambiguities and complexities of collaboration, not to mention the essential mechanics of how it was sought and arranged...This work is not only a major contribution to the history of the Sino-Japanese War and that of modern China; it also makes an invaluable addition to the comparative history of wartime collaboration through recounting the Chinese experience of survival under the occupation state.
Timothy Brook's superb book is an example of the doing and writing of history at its best...In addition to painting a compelling picture of the multileveled and multidirectional complexity and ambiguity of politics and society under the occupation, Brook's work is studded with notable insights...Brook's writing style is at the same time urbane and engaging. In sum, this is an excellent study and a great read as well.
Timothy Brook's study of wartime collaboration between Chinese local elites and Japanese army agents is a welcome and necessary part of the new historical thinking about wartime China...Brook's book is a meticulously researched, subtly argued, and courageous study of a still delicate topic. It will be of value to all readers who wish to explore the dynamics of the 1937-45 Sino-Japanese War in more detail, and adds depth and maturity to a field that has sometimes seemed the prisoner of the type of nationalist paradigms that Brook seeks to undermine.
Timothy Brook has produced a superb book about the vexed problem of collaboration...Of all the studies of collaboration—or those that touch on it—in East Asian studies, Brook’s provides us with the most interesting perspective. One of the book’s great strengths is the clear and methodical way in which it proceeds through its historical investigation. Brook hews closely to his principal sources and texts, which he both utilizes and interrogates. He cross-examines Chinese and Japanese, collaborative and denunciatory, occupier and resistor texts, often with regard to the same phenomenon, if not the same event or person. Yet Brook is sufficiently a stylist that this procedure rarely lapses into a dry, judicial mode of inquiry. At the same time, the conclusions he draws feel remarkably faithful to his methodology.
- 302 pages
- 0-11/16 x 5-13/16 x 8-7/8 inches
- Harvard University Press
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