In mid-January 1945, US Navy pilots launched a series of attacks on Japanese-held Hong Kong. In his new book Target Hong Kong, Steven K Bailey, whose previous book Bold Venture told the story of the bombing of Hong Kong by US Army Air Corps pilots based in China under the command of General Claire Chennault of “Flying Tigers” fame, shifts his focus to the American naval pilots of Admiral William “Bull” Halsey’s Task Force 38 whose mission was to seek out and destroy Japanese convoys, warships and ports in and around the South China Sea. The code name for the naval-based air attacks on Hong Kong was “Operation Gratitude”.

Canadian lawyer Patrick Brode has written an interesting and fast-moving account of the little-known Allied war crimes and treason trials of Canadian-born Kanao Inouye, known as the Kamloops Kid by the Canadian soldiers who suffered beatings and torture by Inouye and his Japanese confederates in Hong Kong during World War II. It is a tale of war, suffering, racial animosity, inhumane conduct and, Brode believes, partial injustice.

A picture, it is said, is worth a thousand words. A Danger Shared is a collection of photographs taken by Melville Jacoby, an American exchange student and later war correspondent in China, Southeast Asia, and the Philippines (for Henry Luce’s Time and Life magazines) in the mid-to-late 1930s and early 1940s. Author Bill Lascher’s text accompanying the photographs tells Jacoby’s story against the background of the gathering storm, and later when the storm breaks over the Asia-Pacific.  

Wars produce confusion and panic that often result from fears—rational and otherwise—among government officials and populations subject to war’s vicissitudes. During World War II, British officials in India and their colonial subjects feared a Japanese invasion of the sub-continent that never occurred. Krea University philosophy professor and former editor of The Hindu Mukund Padmanabhan tells this fascinating story in his debut book The Great Flap of 1942.

India’s former Foreign Secretary and Ambassador to China Vijay Gokhale in his new book Crosswinds offers a fascinating account of India’s diplomacy in four specific events during 1949 through 1959: the formal recognition of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Indochina War, and the two Taiwan Strait crises. India’s diplomatic role was encouraged by the British and Chinese, but mostly disdained by the Americans who came to view India as too partial to China and unappreciative of the US goal of containing communism in Asia. Gokhale believes that the events of that decade can shed some light on the current US-China confrontation in the South China Sea, and India’s role in today’s geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific.  

Over the course of two centuries (between 133 BCE and 89 CE), China’s Han empire fought a series of conflicts with a confederation of nomadic steppe peoples known as Xiongnu. As Scott Forbes Crawford notes in his fast-moving, readable narrative history The Han-Xiongnu War, the Han and Xiongnu were east Asian “superpowers” whose struggle for power impacted smaller city-states, such as Yiwi, Loulan, Khotan, Yarkand, and Kashgar in what is now northern and western China. The Han empire brought to the conflict greater resources and organization, while the Xiongnu’s strengths were speed, mobility, and maneuverability. In the end, the Han’s superior numbers won out.

The late S Kalyanaraman was one of India’s foremost strategic thinkers until his untimely death in 2022 due to complications from COVID-19. He worked as a research fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. His last book, India’s Military Strategy, concisely explains and assesses the evolution of India’s military strategy towards Pakistan as manifested in their repeated clashes between 1947 and the early 21st century.