Homer Lea & The Decline Of The West

Early in the century a young American accurately predicted Japan’s imperialism and China’s and Russia’s rise. Then he set out to become China’s soldier leader.

In October 1941 Clare Boothe Luce, the playwright, journalist, politician, and wife of the magazine tycoon Henry Luce, had dinner with half a dozen army officers in their quarters on top of an ancient Spanish fort beside the harbor of Manila. The main topic of conversation was the threat of war with Japan. Everyone assumed that if hostilities began, the Philippines would be target No. 1 of the Japanese war machine. Read more »

The Toughest Flying In The World

These World War II airmen had one of the most dangerous missions of all, piloting unarmed cargo planes over the Hump—the high and treacherous Himalayas

Cookie Byrd is punching my card. We’ve just met in the convention center at Harrah’s, in Reno. Cookie is the official chaplain of the Hump Pilots Association, and he hands out plastic “chaplain’s cards” at all the association’s reunions, to remind the guys of World War Il days, flew the Hump. “Hump” is GI understatement: the Hump was the Himalayas, and they flew over them to supply Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese Nationalist Army by air from India after the Japanese occupied eastern China and southeast Asia early in the war.Read more »

Why We Didn’t Use Poison Gas in World War II

In a conflict that saw saturation bombing, Auschwitz, and the atom bomb, poison gas was never used in the field. What prevented it?

Forty years ago, on August 6 and 9, 1945, American B-29s dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, killing at least 110,000 and possibly 250,000 Japanese and speeding that nation’s surrender. During four years of bitter fighting, World War II had become for the United States virtually total war, in which morality had slowly been redefined to allow the intentional bombing of civilians. Read more »

Landing At Tokyo Bay

Two letters from a Navy lieutenant to his wife tell the story of the last hours of World War II

YOKOSUKA 9·4·45

My dear: Read more »

The Agony Of The Indianapolis

She was the last major American warship sunk during World War II, and her sinking was the single worst open-sea disaster in our naval history. How could it have happened?

On July 16, 1945, the heavy cruiser Indianapolis departed the California coast for the Pacific island of Tinian. On board was a heavily guarded top-secret cargo destined to end the war. Only hours before the Indianapolis began her high-speed journey, the first successful atomic detonation had ushered in the nuclear age. The cruiser itself carried vital elements of the atomic bomb that would be dropped on Hiroshima. Even Captain Charles B.Read more »

II. Bats Away!

It is early 1945. An American bomber crew is anxiously nearing the now familiar islands of the Japanese Empire. Flak begins to burst around the plane as the target comes into view. The bombardier releases the payload, and the crew watches as thousands of incendiary bats plummet toward the paper cities of Japan. Read more »

Forbidden Diary

During three harrowing years as a prisoner of the Japanese, an American woman secretly kept an extraordinary journal of suffering, hope, ingenuity, and human endurance

On December 5, 1941, Natalie Crouler, an American housewife living in the Philippines, started a chatty letter to her mother in Boston: the children ‘s cat had died, and she described the tearful funeral. But the letter was never mailed. Within three chaotic weeks, the Crouter family were prisoners of the Japanese, trying to adjust to an internment that was to last more than three years. Read more »

Ordeal At Vella Lavella

Six thousand miles southwest of San Francisco lie the Solomon Islands, scene of perhaps the bitterest fighting ever waged by Americans at war. Here, in 1942-43, the United States and its allies battled the empire of Japan for mastery of the South Pacific. Read more »