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Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze Hardcover – Illustrated, 1 July 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 171 ratings

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Casemate; Illustrated edition (1 July 2013)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 342 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 161200167X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1612001678
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 15.49 x 2.79 x 23.11 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 171 ratings

Product description


" a compelling account of this major but often overlooked battle, told from both sides of the conflict and covering every level of the conflict, from the experiences of the private soldier to the problems faced by the senior commanders on both side as well as the eyewitnesses from the international community in the city. The text is supported by a series of maps that help illustrate the course of the battle, and by photographs that show the impact of urban warfare on one of Asia's most prosperous and cosmopolitan cities."-- "History of War"

"... rattles along like a modern techno-thriller and moves gracefully between descriptions of the tactical battlefield and the impact on the company, platoon or individual to the strategic machinations of the "top brass" and the movement of armies and divisions. Whilst the book piqued my interest in the pre Second World War Sino-Japanese conflict it stands very successfully as an excellent piece of military writing in its own right. One only has to be interested in warfare to appreciate this book.It is supported as is usual by a centre of black and white pictures showing Shanghai in the thirties and scenes from the conflict. ... Also there are a number of maps to allow you to follow the general course of the action.Overall this book is highly recommended. For wargamers it has got all the makings of an excellent campaign or demonstration game - naval gunnery support, tanks, direct tactical air support, two evenly matched forces, Marines, the what if scenario of conflict spreading into the International Settlement (other colonial powers had troops and naval forces in Shanghai), German military advisors and of course a cavalry charge! For military historians it is an interesting insight into the development of the tactical use of military technology in the lead up to the Second World War. And, finally, it is damn good read!"-- "Wargamer"

"... succeeds in describing the experiences and perceptions of officers and soldiers on both the Chinese and Japanese side, the suffering of the common people, the war in the eyes of the westerners, and the German advisors' role, presenting a complete, multi-faceted and objective vista of the war... Shanghai 1937 excels at describing the events from the point of view of the common people, using their diaries and letters to describe the war as seen from the ground level, how it began and evolved, and how it affected their lives and spirits... In this respect, it is more original than many works in Chinese, while also being much more readable... A moving and fluent narrative which describes a desperate and bitter battle in vivid prose."-- "Journal of Studies of China's Resistance War Against Japan"

" arrow straight account of the pyrrhic battle for much of the city....challenges the notion that the Second World War began in 1939 and he has a point. I am pleased to have read it....If you are looking to expand your world knowledge to the Middle Kingdom, have a look at this book. If the advance of the Japanese interests you it might make a nice change not to read about endless embarrassing retreats of colonial armies for a while."-- "War in History"

"...enhances the bare facts with material gleaned from multiple diaries, reports, newspaper and magazine articles, books, and other accounts from combatants and civilians of all nationalities. In addition to on-the-spot impressions from a surprising number of Chinese and Japanese foot soldiers, the book also features eyewitness reports from and about foreigners living and working in the cosmopolitan city at the time. As the author notes, the battle of Shanghai was front page news throughout much of the world, and numbers of journalists from around the globe covered the fighting from both sides of the line while crossing in and out of the safety and comfort of the international concessions. Besides using many contemporary documents as sources, Harmsen has chosen to illustrate the book with an especially noteworthy selection of very striking wartime photographs. ...engaging account of a little-known battle. ...practically nothing else in English tackles this topic at this level. ..-- "Stone & Stone Second World War Books"

"...has all the elements of a fabulous historical novel. ...Yet from another angle it is a historical minefield...he seamless way in which Harmsen weaves Chiang's international political maneuvering into battlefield strategy, combining the perspectives of regular privates and commanding generals, along with civilians and combatants, suggests his narrative was of long of the really remarkable features of "Shanghai 1937" is the huge collection of high-quality photographs, all of them in-period and directly relevant to the action, in three 16-page inserts. Also, one cannot help noticing that many of them are credited to the "author's collection.".. few who have read the book have failed to be gripped by the narrative."-- "Taiwan Today"

"...presents a gripping chronology of two sides locked in a horrific death dance.....genuinely shines by interlacing the chronology with plenty of personal anecdotes and quotidian details... an important reminder between Champagne brunches, art openings and fashion shows--rivers of blood once flowed beneath our feet."-- "City Weekend Shanghai"

"All through the 1930s an extremely bloody war was fought in China. It was a war that involved great power interests, clashing ideologies and local interests. This entire complex and bloody jigsaw is the topic of China expert Peter Harmsen's book on the battle of Shanghai in 1937. There are not very many books on this topic and this period, which has been a neglected chapter in western history writing. Therefore, Peter Harmsen has written an important book. It's about events that happened more than 70 years ago, but it's relevant for the present age because the same great power interests are at work today... The book is extremely readable and deserves praise for telling the story of a forgotten aspect of the global showdown of the 1930s"-- "Politiken"

"Harmsen, a two-decade veteran of east Asia, demonstrates a breathtaking command of the battle itself--from the 10,000 meter, panoramic view of the terrain and history, down to the platoon level--Japanese and Chinese grunts fighting, bleeding, starving and dying, and the types of knots that the Japanese used to tie their helmets on."-- "Asian Review of Books"

"In the voluminous literature on World War II, few books treat the Sino-Japanese War, and few of those are accessible to non-specialists. Thankfully, seasoned East Asian correspondent Peter Harmsen has written an engrossing study that goes far to fill the gap in the historiography of a neglected theater of operations and the first large-scale urban battle of the war. Historians of this battle do have certain advantages. Since Shanghai was a cosmopolitan city with a large contingent of foreign residents that stayed for the duration, scholars possess an additional source of primary documents and valuable eyewitness accounts. Harmsen takes full advantage of these. ... a compelling, quite detailed...narrative history of an understudied war. ... gives easy entry into the secondary literature on the Sino-Japanese War.-- "Michigan War Studies Review"

About the Author

Peter Harmsen, a foreign correspondent in East Asia for two decades, has worked for Bloomberg, the Economist Intelligence Unit, and the Financial Times. A fluent speaker of Mandarin Chinese, Harmsen is also the former bureau chief in Taiwan for French news agency AFP. His book Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze inspired a US Public Television documentary by three-time Emmy Award winner Bill Einreinhofer, which started airing in the fall of 2018, reaching 80 percent of the American television audience. Harmsen's work has been translated into Chinese, Danish, and Romanian.

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catholic reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome addition, and a very good introduction
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 22 March 2017
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 January 2016
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ian lowry
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 10 July 2015
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Edwin Poon
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Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 May 2017
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4.0 out of 5 stars Inaspettatamente solido
Reviewed in Italy on 17 August 2018
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