NOMONHAN, 1939

The Red Army's Victory That Shaped World War II
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Binding:Hardback
Published:April 15, 2012
by Stuart D. Goldman (Author)

Stuart Goldman convincingly argues that a little-known, but intense Soviet-Japanese conflict along the Manchurian-Mongolian frontier at Nomonhan influenced the outbreak of World War II and shaped the course of the war. The author draws on Japanese, Soviet, and western sources to put the seemingly obscure conflict—actually a small undeclared war— into its proper global geo-strategic perspective.

The book describes how the Soviets, in response to a border conflict provoked by Japan, launched an offensive in August 1939 that wiped out the Japanese forces at Nomonhan. At the same time, Stalin signed the German- Soviet Nonaggression Pact, allowing Hitler to invade Poland. The timing of these military and diplomatic strikes was not coincidental, according to the author. In forming an alliance with Hitler that left Tokyo diplomatically isolated, Stalin succeeded in avoiding a two-front war. He saw the pact with the Nazis as a way to pit Germany against Britain and France, leaving the Soviet Union on the sidelines to eventually pick up the spoils from the European conflict, while at the same time giving him a free hand to smash the Japanese at Nomonhan.

Goldman not only demonstrates the linkage between the Nomonhan conflict, the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, and the outbreak of World War II , but also shows how Nomonhan influenced Japan’s decision to go to war with the United States and thus change the course of history. The book details Gen. Georgy Zhukov’s brilliant victory at Nomonhan that led to his command of the Red Army in 1941 and his success in stopping the Germans at Moscow with reinforcements from the Soviet Far East. Such a strategy was possible, the author contends, only because of Japan’s decision not to attack the Soviet Far East but to seize the oil-rich Dutch East Indies and attack Pearl Harbor instead. Goldman credits Tsuji Masanobu, an influential Japanese officer who instigated the Nomonhan conflict and survived the debacle, with urging his superiors not to take on the Soviets again in 1941, but instead to go to war with the United States.

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Product Details
  • Subject: World War II
  • Hardback : 240 pages
  • Illustrations: 17
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (April 15, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1591143292
  • ISBN-13: 9781591143291
  • Product Dimensions: 6 X 9 in
  • Shipping Weight: 0

Stuart D. Goldman is a scholar in residence at the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research in Washington, D.C. From 1979-2009, he was the senior specialist in Russian and Eurasian political and military affairs at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress. A resident of Rockville, MD, he holds a PhD from Georgetown University.

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Customer Reviews

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Average Customer Reviews
5.00 Stars
Intriguing Book
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
By: thepastinreview
Among the events leading up to the beginning of the Second World War is the off again, on again fighting in Asia. The Japanese were in the process of trying to conquer China (a quagmire if there ever was one), and subsequently were in an offensive, aggressive frame of mind. Near the border of Manchuria and Mongolia (a Soviet puppet state), they engaged in an intense, undeclared war with the Soviet Union. And, as these things are wont to do, it escalated into a decisive offensive launched by the Soviets with the intention of none other than the destruction of the Japanese forces. Of course, all of this was occurring in relative obscurity, as most people’s attention was focused on Europe and Hitler’s Nazis. The events that occurred near the village of Nomonhan in late August, 1939, were overshadowed by the “main event” of World War II. Due to the efforts of Stuart Goldman, the curtain is drawn back from this part of the world’s stage and we see Nomonhan as one of those “small” actions whose repercussions have a major effect on the rest of the story. This book is well researched, using both Japanese and Russian sources. Goldman does an excellent job tying together the various events such as the Nomonhan battle, the Soviet Nonaggression Pact with Germany and the start of World War II. Stalin signed the Pact in order to (among other reasons), avoid having to fight a two-front war and General Zhukov (the victor at Nomonhan), was placed in overall command of Soviet forces in 1941. Perhaps the most intriguing result of this battle was the Japanese decision to attack the United States and attempt to seize the oil-rich Dutch East Indies instead of striking westward. This is a must read for all those with an interest in World War II and subsequent events.
 
If you don't know the story of Nomonhan, you should!
Thursday, August 9, 2012
By: John Daly
The book tells the story of a limited war between Japan and the USSR in the Summer of 1939. The first clashes were over a border dispute caused by the shift of a river channel which might have allowed Japanese troops in Manchuria to block Soviet shipping from the USSR Maritime Provence to the Pacific. The larger, later clash was over disputed territory that the Japanese military feared might serve as staging ground for a Soviet invasion to seize valuable territory in Manchuria. Recall that Japan had obtained domination of Manchuria in the 1930s and was dependent on its coal and steal. Why is a border war in east asia important? First, it saw tens of thousands of casualties on both sides. Then, it directly influenced Soviet and Japanese foreign policy, and indirectly German, English and French policies. It is also an example of conflict between major powers that was successfully limited, not escalating into a full fledged USSR-Japan war (recall that a Russo-Japanese war did occur earlier in the century). This book makes these little known events and their importance available to a wide readership.
 

 
 

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