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Level 5

5AAH2034: War in the Pacific, 1898 to 1975 and Beyond: Strategy and Diplomacy

Credit value: 30
Module convenor/tutorProfessor Carl Bridge
Teaching pattern: 20 x 2 hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%), 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each) & 1 x oral presentation (10%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment by the following methods: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%); 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each); 1 x 1500 word essay (10%)

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

This module examines the emergence of the Pacific Ocean and rim as a strategic system in the twentieth century, from the Spanish-American War, through the two world wars and up to the Korean and Vietnam wars and beyond. It proceeds by means of a detailed analysis of the strategic imperatives of all the national participants in these conflicts and an assessment of each war's causes and outcomes. The main focus is on the making and execution of grand strategy at the level of high command and the political-military interface, on how each nation's leaders planned for and fought each war, and on the peace-making which followed. Particular attention is paid to alliance management, to the characteristics and vicissitudes of the relationships between the great powers and with the regional powers. Key issues are the successive claims to hegemony by Japan, the United States and China, and the decline of older empires; the British, French, German, Russian and Spanish. Geopolitical, international and global perspectives are emphasised throughout.

Provisional teaching plan

  • Introduction: the Pacific as an emerging strategic system, 1744-1898;The Spanish-American War, 1898
  • The Russo-Japanese War & the Battle of Tsushima, 1904-5
  • Germany in the Pacific to 1915
  • The Pacific at Versailles, 1919
  • United States Pacific Strategies, 1905-41
  • Japanese Pacific Strategies, 1905-41
  • Britain & the Fleet to Singapore Strategy, 1919-41
  • Pearl Harbor & the Fall of Singapore & the Philippines, 1941-2
  • Overview Lecture 1
  • Island-hopping, 1942-44: Midway, Kokoda & Guadalcanal
  • The Atomic Solution, 1945
  • Japan & the Cold War
  • The Communist Victory in China, 1945-9
  • The Korean War, 1950-3
  • The First Vietnam War & Dien Bien Phu, 1946-54
  • The United States’ road to Vietnam, 1954-65
  • The Tet Offensive & the Guam Doctrine, 1965-75
  • Contesting the ‘American Lake’
  • The Pacific since 1975
  • Overview Lecture 2
  • Exam Revision

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and the purchase of these texts is not mandatory.

Brian Bond & Kioichi Tachikawa (ed.), British and Japanese Military Leadership in the Far Eastern War

Peter Brune, A Bastard of a Place: the Australians in Papua

Saki Dockrill (ed.), From Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima

P.G. Edwards, Crises and Commitments

D. Evans and M. Peattie, Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics and Technology in the Imperial Navy, 1887-1941

Max Hastings, The Korean War

George C. Herring, America’s Longest War

David Horner, High Command

D. Clayton James, The Years of MacArthur

V. C. Jones, Manhattan

Gabriel Kolko, Vietnam: The Anatomy of a War

W. Roger Louis, Britain and Germany’s Pacific Colonies

Arthur Marder, Old Friends, New Enemies

William Manchester, Goodbye Darkness

Daniel Marston (ed.), The Pacific War Companion: Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima

Anthony Short, The Origins of the Vietnam War

Margaret Macmillan, Peacemakers

Ian McNeill, To Long Tan

Neville Meaney, The Search for Security in the Pacific

Edward S. Miller, War Plan Orange: the US Strategy to defeat Japan, 1897-1945

Robert O’Neill, Australia in the Korean War

Ian Nish, Alliance in Decline

Ian Nish (ed.), The Russo-Japanese War, vol. 8 The Battle of Tsushima

G. Pemberton, All the Way

Douglas Pike, Viet Cong

Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb

William Schaller, Douglas MacArthur

T.D. Schoonover, Uncle Sam’s War of 1898

Ronald Spector, Eagle Against the Sun

Nicholas Tarling, Britain, South-East Asia and the Origins of the Pacific War

Christopher Thorne, Allies of a Kind

Christopher Thorne, The Far Eastern War

Masonobu Tsuji, Singapore, 1941-42

Alan Warren, Singapore, 1942

Gerhard Weinberg, A World at Arms 

Hugh White, Why China?

Osmar White, Green Armour

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