Historiography of the Pacific War: Past Accomplishments and Future Challenges
On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the Hoover Institution Library & Archives is pleased to host a panel of leading military historians of the Pacific War. This panel takes a fresh look at research trends and accomplishments in the past eight decades and discusses new challenges and missions for the next generation of students and researchers of World War II in Asia and the Pacific.
This event also marks Hoover's recent acquisition of the Mitsuo Fuchida Papers, generously gifted by his family. Captain Fuchida, the lead bomber aviator in the first wave of the Pearl Harbor attack, also gained new prominence in the postwar period due, among other things, to the publication of Midway: The Battle that Doomed Japan, the Japanese Navy's Story (1955), a highly influential account of the Battle of Midway albeit with its strengths and flaws. Taking Fuchidaʻs controversial legacy as the point of departure, this panel reflects upon the complex process of the trans-Pacific knowledge production and transfer concerning the Pacific War in the past eight decades and considers the future directions in researching World War II in Asia and the Pacific.
Professor in the GW Department of History, Columbian College of Arts and SciencesRead more
Talk Title: “Two Events and an Iconic Image”: Remembering, Forgetting, and Reimagining the Asia-Pacific War at Eighty
This paper examines the ways in which the Asia–Pacific War has been remembered,forgotten and reimagined by historians, storytellers, and the public in the United States after eighty years of history writing, consumer art, and popular memory. It argues that, in the United States, as living memory of the conflict becomes rare, popular images and understanding of the war have become weirdly truncated. On the other hand, academic understanding of the war has significantly broadened and includes work that examines the familiar and unfamiliar aspects of the conflict from a variety of national perspectives. At the same time many other countries of the Pacific rim, where the war was for long regarded as a painful, destructive, and sometimes embarrassing experience to be best forgotten, have more recently come to view their nation’s war years as bearing an important relationship to contemporary political, social, or cultural issues.
RONALD SPECTOR (Ph.D, Yale) is Emeritus Professor of History and International Relations in the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University. During his thirty years in the Elliott School he taught undergraduate and graduate courses with emphasis on twentieth century military developments and confrontations. He previously taught at the University of Alabama and at LSU and served as Director of Naval History in the U.S. Department of Defense.
Beside his recent book, In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia, he is the author of five other works. His best known books are Eagle Against the Sun: The American War With Japan, which was a main selection of the Book of the Month Club and winner of the Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Prize in Naval History, and After Tet: The Bloodiest Year in Vietnam. His book, At War at Sea: Sailors and Naval Combat in the Twentieth Century received the 2002 Distinguished Book Award of the Society for Military History. His work has also appeared in French, Hungarian, Japanese, and Vietnamese editions.
Spector has been a Fulbright Lecturer in India, Israel and Singapore, “Class of 1957 Distinguished Visiting Professor of Naval History” at The U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Visiting Professor of Strategy at The National War College, and Harold K. Johnson Visiting Professor of Military History at the U.S. Army War College. He was also Distinguished Guest Professor at Keio University in Tokyo, visiting professor at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, and visiting professor at Princeton. In 2012, he received the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize of the Society for Military History awarded for career achievement in that field.
A Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) in the Marine Corps Reserve, Spector served on active duty in Vietnam, 1968-1969, during the 1982-1983 Lebanon-Grenada operations and during the Gulf War. He is a graduate of the Expeditionary Warfare School at Quantico and served two tours on the Adjunct Faculty of the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College.
Adjunct lecturer for the U.S. Naval War CollegeRead more
Talk Title: My Life With Fuchida: Modern Pacific War Historiography and the Quest for Source Diversity
JONATHAN PARSHALL is co-author (with Anthony Tully) of Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway. He is a lecturer for the U.S. Naval War College, and a frequent speaker for the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, National WWII Museum, the National Museum of the Pacific War, and others. He has been widely published in numerous historical journals and magazines, including the U.S. Naval War College Review, Naval History magazine, Naval Institute Proceedings, WWII magazine, Wartime (the magazine of the Australian War Memorial), The Northern Mariner, and others. Parshall has appeared on NetFlix, the BBC, the Smithsonian Channel, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, History Channel, and the BBC. He is currently working on his second book, a history of the year 1942.
Military historian, lawyer, and U.S. Army veteranRead more
Talk Title: Rags to Itches: The Historiography of the Asia Pacific War
Richard B. Frank is an internationally renowned expert on the Pacific war. After graduating from the University of Missouri, he was commissioned in the US Army, in which he served for nearly four years, including a tour of duty in the Republic of Vietnam as an aero rifle platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division. Frank completed studies at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC, and is the author of Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire (Random House, 1999), which received the Harry S. Truman Book Award. He recently published, Tower of Skulls: A History of the Asia–Pacific War, Volume I: July 1937–May 1942 (W. W. Norton, Incorporated, 2021).
Professor of Modern Japan, University of Hawaiʻi at MānoaRead more
YUMA TOTANI is a historian of modern Japan and a researcher of post-WWII Allied war crimes trials in the Asia-Pacific region. She is a co-founder of the War Crimes Documentation Initiative (WCDI) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, a digital humanities laboratory that develops innovative digital tools for promoting the teaching and research of WWII-era war crimes in the Asia-Pacific region. Her publications include The Tokyo War Crimes Trial: The Pursuit of Justice in the Wake of World War II (Harvard University Asia Center, 2008), Justice in Asia and the Pacific Region, 1945-1952: Allied War Crimes Prosecutions (Cambridge University Press, 2015), and The Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal: Law, History, and Jurisprudence (co-authored with David Cohen; Cambridge University Press, 2018). Her career mission is to undertake a series of multi-year research and book publications that help illuminate the conditions, circumstances, and consequences of Japanese war and war crimes, and assessing the implications of our historical knowledge of WWII for strengthening the principles of international justice, accountability, and the rule of law in the twenty-first century.