Ronald H. SpectorJan 5, 2023
A Continent Erupts
Decolonization, Civil War, and Massacre in Postwar Asia, 1945-1955
W. W. Norton 2023
On September 2, 1945, Japan surrendered to the United States, ending the Second World War. Yet the Japanese invasion had upended the old geopolitical structures of European empires, leaving old imperial powers on the decline and new groups calling for independence on the rise.
That unsteady situation sparked a decade of conflict: in Indonesia, in Vietnam, in China and in Korea, as esteemed military historian Professor Ronald Spector writes about in his latest book, A Continent Erupts: Decolonization, Civil War, and Massacre in Postwar Asia, 1945–1955, published by W. W. Norton in 2023.
In this interview, Ronald and I talk about the decade of conflict following the Second World War–and whether these conflicts were inevitable in the postcolonial, Cold War world.
Ronald H. Spector, professor emeritus of history and international relations at George Washington University, is the author of seven books, including Eagle Against the Sun: The American War With Japan (Free Press: 1984) and In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia (Random House: 2008).
You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of A Continent Erupts. Follow on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia.
Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.