Barak Kushner, "Men to Devils, Devils to Men: Japanese War Crimes and Chinese Justice" (Harvard UP, 2015)


Barak Kushner's new book considers what happened in the wake of Japan's surrender, looking closely at diplomatic and military efforts to bring "Japanese imperial behavior" to justice. Men to Devils, Devils to Men: Japanese War Crimes and Chinese Justice (Harvard University Press, 2015) focuses on the aftermath of the Japanese war crimes, asking a number of important questions: "How did the Chinese legally deal with Japanese war crimes?" and "What were the Japanese responses, and [how] did these processes shape early Cold War Sino-Japanese relations?" Two ways of reconsidering history shape the study. First, Kushner reframes Japan as a decolonizing empire, not just a defeated country. At the same time, he looks at the "shifting landscape of the concept of law in East Asia" and its impact on relations in the region during this period, especially in terms of international law and associated notions of accountability. These two broad historiographical re-orientations motivate an extraordinarily thoughtful and detailed treatment of the ways that conflict between the KMT and the CCP, and relations of both with other global powers, shaped the notion and history of war crimes trials. It's a clearly written and compellingly argued account that's also a pleasure to read! To hear our conversation about Barak's previous book Slurp!: A Social and Culinary History of Ramen - Japan's Favorite Noodle Soup, see here.

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