For two centuries, the Xiongnu people—a vast nomadic empire that covered modern-day Siberia, Inner Mongolia, Gansu and Xinjiang—were one of the Han Dynasty’s fiercest rivals. They raided the wealthy and prosperous Chinese, and even forced the Han to treat them as equals—much to the chagrin of those in the imperial court.

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”.

The Army of the Manchu Empire: The Conquest Army and the Imperial Army of Qing China, 1600-1727, Michael Fredholm von Essen (Helion, April 2024)
The Army of the Manchu Empire: The Conquest Army and the Imperial Army of Qing China, 1600-1727, Michael Fredholm von Essen (Helion, April 2024)

New research on an army that details the military system of Qing China, which fought a variety of enemies ranging from Ming Chinese, Mongols, and Tibetans to Russians and Western Colonial armies.

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.

It is a battle that has been called “the Stalingrad of the East”, but a more accurate description might be“India’s forgotten battle of World War II”. The Battle of Kohima, which was fought between British/Imperial and Japanese troops during 4 April through 6 June of 1944, according to author Mmhonlümo Kikon, “shaped world history”. It marked the end of Japan’s effort to invade India and join forces with the Indian independence forces against the British Raj. Kohima, Kikon writes, “saved the British empire and the Allied forces from defeat and brought them out from the jaws of death into an uncertain glory carved into their history books.”

It is easy to forget, in the linear narrative of the British Raj leading to an independent India, that there were other, albeit much smaller, bits that hung on as colonies of other European countries (let’s not call them “powers”) for some time longer. One of these, the most venerable, dating back almost five centuries to 1510, was Goa. The succinctly titled Goa, 1961 tells the story of India’s forceful expulsion of the Portuguese, focusing in considerable detail on the year it happened.