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The Currents of War

A New History of American-Japanese Relations, 1899-1941

From 1899 until the American entry into World War II, U.S. presidents sought to preserve China's territorial integrity in order to guarantee American businesses access to Chinese markets—a policy famously known as the "open door." Before the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, Americans saw Japan as the open door's champion; but by the end of 1905, Tokyo had replaced St. Petersburg as its greatest threat. For the next thirty-six years, successive U.S. administrations worked to safeguard China and contain Japanese expansion on the mainland.

The Currents of War reexamines the relationship between the United States and Japan and the casus belli in the Pacific through a fresh analysis of America's central foreign policy strategy in Asia. In this ambitious and compelling work, Sidney Pash offers a cautionary tale of oft-repeated mistakes and miscalculations. He demonstrates how continuous economic competition in the Asia-Pacific region heightened tensions between Japan and the United States for decades, eventually leading to the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Pash's study is the first full reassessment of pre–World War II American-Japanese diplomatic relations in nearly three decades. It examines not only the ways in which U.S. policies led to war in the Pacific but also how this conflict gave rise to later confrontations, particularly in Korea and Vietnam. Wide-ranging and meticulously researched, this book offers a new perspective on a significant international relationship and its enduring consequences.

About the Author

Sidney Pash is associate professor of history at Fayetteville State University. A former Fulbright Fellow in Tokyo, he is coeditor of The United States and the Second World War: New Perspectives on Diplomacy, War, and the Home Front.

Reviews

"Pash's work represents a new wave of scholarship examining Japanese-U.S. relations, as well as World War II in Asia."—G. Kurt Piehler, Florida State University

"Pash is not content to write traditional narrative diplomatic history in his ambitious and compelling study of U.S-Japanese relations from the late 19th Century to the outbreak of the Pacific War in 1941. Instead, he writes 'revisionist' history in the best sense of the word—as a cautionary tale of mistakes and lessons that should not be repeated but often are."—J. Garry Clifford, University of Connecticut

"This fascinating book gives insight into the competitive relationship between the United States and Japan from 1899–1941."—The Lone Star Book Review

"This is a well-written book that examines the decades-long U.S. effort at containing Japanese continental expansion."—Journal of Military History

"This sharply argued and well-researched book is quite timely. [. . .] Sidney Pash's detailed analysis of US-Japanese relations from 1899-1941 explores the conflicts and, more importantly, the principles that created those memories. This important contribution wraps an imaginative, detailed study of US-Japanese relations during an epoch within a broader analysis of both the global context and the series of broad US policy principles, or pillars. It is a major reformulation of a historic relationship that Asians and Americans now remember as ending in devastation."—Historian

"This sharply argued and well-researched book is quite timely. This important contribution wraps an imaginative, detailed study of US-Japanese relations during an epoch within a broader analysis of both the global context and the series of broad US policy principles, or pillars. It is a major reformulation of a historic relationship that Asians and Americans now remember as ending in devastation."—The Historian

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