The Barrier and the Javelin
Japanese and Allied Pacific Strategies, February to June 1942
The second part of H. P. Willmott’s three-volume history of the war in the Pacific, this work tells how Japan arrived at a situation in which war with the United States was the only means of ensuring long-term security and resolving her immediate problems of access to raw materials and of an unwinnable war in China. Totally balanced in presentation, the book also explains the basis of Allied miscalculations and provides explanations of the defeats that overwhelmed American, British, and Dutch forces throughout Southeast Asia in a little more than three months. Willmott argues that it was Japan’s concentration and economy of force that contributed to its success in that early campaign. It was a later decision to disperse forces over a large area, he says, that resulted in Japan’s loss of the Coral Sea and Midway battles and ultimately the entire war. The book’s stunning assessment of those battles offers insights and interpretations that continue to be discussed, twenty-five years after it was first published.