Race War!

White Supremacy and the Japanese Attack on the British Empire

409 pages

November, 2005

ISBN: 9780814736418

$27

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Author

Gerald Horne is Moores Professor of History and African-American Studies at the University of Houston. His books include Race Woman: The Lives of Shirley Graham Du Bois and Race War!: White Supremacy and the Japanese Attack on the British Empire (both available from NYU Press).

All books by Gerald Horne

Japan’s lightning march across Asia during World War II was swift and brutal. Nation after nation fell to Japanese soldiers. How were the Japanese able to justify their occupation of so many Asian nations? And how did they find supporters in countries they subdued and exploited? Race War! delves into submerged and forgotten history to reveal how European racism and colonialism were deftly exploited by the Japanese to create allies among formerly colonized people of color. Through interviews and original archival research on five continents, Gerald Horne shows how race played a key—and hitherto ignored—;role in each phase of the war.

During the conflict, the Japanese turned white racism on its head portraying the war as a defense against white domination in the Pacific. We learn about the reverse racial hierarchy practiced by the Japanese internment camps, in which whites were placed at the bottom of the totem pole, under the supervision of Chinese, Korean, and Indian guards—an embarrassing example of racial payback that was downplayed by the defeated Japanese and the humiliated Europeans and Euro-Americans.

Focusing on the microcosmic example of Hong Kong but ranging from colonial India to New Zealand and the shores of the U.S., Gerald Horne radically retells the story of the war. From racist U.S. propaganda to Black Nationalist open support of Imperial Japan, information about the effect of race on U.S. and British policy is revealed for the first time. This revisionist account of the war draws connections between General Tojo, Malaysian freedom fighters, and Elijah Muhammed of the Nation of Islam and shows how white racism encouraged and enabled Japanese imperialism. In sum, Horne demonstrates that the retreat of white supremacy was not only driven by the impact of the Cold War and the energized militancy of Africans and African-Americans but by the impact of the Pacific War as well, as a chastened U.S. and U.K. moved vigorously after this conflict to remove the conditions that made Japan's success possible.

Reviews

  • “This fabulous study shows where global history can go. It adventurously moves to practically every continent, producing especially sharp insights into world views of race in the U.S. Horne arrestingly shows how Anglo-U.S.racism enabled Japan to pursue empire while claiming a place as the champion of struggles against white supremacy.”

    —David Roediger, University of Illinois, author of Colored White: Transcending the Racial Past

  • “Through multi-archival research that spans five continents, Gerald Horne demonstrates how and why the Pacific War should be understood as a Race War, not as an exculpation of Japan's Pan Asianism, but because of the poisonous triumph of the 'color line.' Horne powerfully argues that we should not forget that white supremacy retains salience in spite of, or because of, the Anglo-American victory in the Pacific War half a century ago.”

    —Yukiko Koshiro, Colgate University

  • “Gerald Horne is one of the most gifted and insightful historians on racial matters of his generation. In Race War! Horne presents a provocative yet convincing argument that unearths the racial dimensions of U.S. policies pursued in the Far East during the Second World War. Horne's thesis provides a strikingly new and powerful interpretation of the international politics of race in the twentieth century.”

    —Manning Marable, Center for Contemporary Black History, Columbia University

  • “An expansive and unflinching survey of race and empire, Race War! shows the complexities of white supremacy and resistances to it.”

    —Gary Y. Okihiro, Columbia University and author of Common Ground: Reimagining American History

  • “Besides writing an important history, Horne adds to our understanding of the evolution of white supremacy.”

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