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Russia Against Japan A Review of JN Westwoods Book on the war When I first picked up JN Westwoods book about the Russo-Japanese War 1904-05 I had very little knowledge of the conflict I remember studying it briefly in high school but as I recall it was only mentioned for the simple fact that it was the first time an Asian country had taken on and defeated a major world power in a war Beyond that point my knowledge was no more than speculation However now that I have read Mr Westwoods book I feel that I have a much better understanding of this conflict that occurred almost a hundred years ago In his preface he states that he is trying to provide an account of the Russo-Japanese War that does not rely on books like the British Official History memoirs and worst of all contemporary newspaper accounts He explains that most of these accounts were of unreliable origin and in the case of newspaper accounts even intentionally dishonest since most writers accepted that unreliable sources make the most exciting nar ratives What he used instead was an abundance of accounts written in Russian that had previously been neglected His hope was to use these materials to display the war from new or long-forgotten angles The unique characteristic of this work then is that it provides us with a totally different perspective than that of others on the very same topic While this may make it blatantly wrong to a person already familiar with and indoctrinated with many of the anecdotal and hitherto unchallenged material from the abundance of other works I think that Westwoods portrayal should be praised and not just for his nonconformist methods Westwoods book begins by introducing the many reasons for the war The chapter aptly named The Inevitable War provides a glimpse into the respective objectives and thoughts of the Russian and Japanese governments during the latter half
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