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The definitive history of the Russo-Japanese war The Russians were wrong-footed from the start, fighting in Manchuria at the end of a 5,000 mile single track railway; the Japanese were a week or so from their bases. The Russian command structure was hopelessly confused, their generals old and incompetent, the Tsar cautious and uncertain. The Russian naval defeat at Tsushima The definitive history of the Russo-Japanese war The Russians were wrong-footed from the start, fighting in Manchuria at the end of a 5,000 mile single track railway; the Japanese were a week or so from their bases. The Russian command structure was hopelessly confused, their generals old and incompetent, the Tsar cautious and uncertain. The Russian naval defeat at Tsushima was as farcical as it was complete. The Japanese had defeated a big European power, and the lessons for the West were there for all to see, had they cared to do so. From this curious war, so unsafely ignored for the most part by the military minds of the day, Richard Connaughton has woven a fascinating narrative to appeal to readers at all levels.


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The definitive history of the Russo-Japanese war The Russians were wrong-footed from the start, fighting in Manchuria at the end of a 5,000 mile single track railway; the Japanese were a week or so from their bases. The Russian command structure was hopelessly confused, their generals old and incompetent, the Tsar cautious and uncertain. The Russian naval defeat at Tsushima The definitive history of the Russo-Japanese war The Russians were wrong-footed from the start, fighting in Manchuria at the end of a 5,000 mile single track railway; the Japanese were a week or so from their bases. The Russian command structure was hopelessly confused, their generals old and incompetent, the Tsar cautious and uncertain. The Russian naval defeat at Tsushima was as farcical as it was complete. The Japanese had defeated a big European power, and the lessons for the West were there for all to see, had they cared to do so. From this curious war, so unsafely ignored for the most part by the military minds of the day, Richard Connaughton has woven a fascinating narrative to appeal to readers at all levels.

30 review for Rising Sun And Tumbling Bear: Russia's War with Japan

  1. 5 out of 5

    Riley Feldmann

    It is the dead of winter and you find yourself lying in a trench that rounds the base of the only significant hilltop for miles around. As you look around you, you notice vestiges of what you now consider the "old-world": officers in gaudy uniforms, men marching towards opposing lines in neat tight columns and even cavalry. Maybe you'd have found something comforting from these images a few months prior when you were shipped out with your unit from St. Petersburg, the imperial capital of the Rus It is the dead of winter and you find yourself lying in a trench that rounds the base of the only significant hilltop for miles around. As you look around you, you notice vestiges of what you now consider the "old-world": officers in gaudy uniforms, men marching towards opposing lines in neat tight columns and even cavalry. Maybe you'd have found something comforting from these images a few months prior when you were shipped out with your unit from St. Petersburg, the imperial capital of the Russian Empire. Today, though, they are but anachronisms. It is Winter 1904/1905, and you find yourself under siege in Port Arthur 5,000 miles from home under a deluge of the horrors of modern war. Machine guns chatter incessantly, the frightfully brave Japanese foe continues to throw himself at your entrenched position, dying by the thousands while mounds of their dead grow, and artillery never stops falling. Death feels close at all times. There are good odds your comrades are draped dead around you. Your commander is either incompetent to the extreme or has already psychologically snapped rendering himself useless to the surviving troops. Welcome to the Russo-Japanese War. You're on the cutting edge of a type of warfare that will eventually cost millions their lives. As you read Richard Connaughton's Rising Sun and Tumbling Bear you'll run into all manner of scenes like the one described above. Connaughton is, at heart, a military historian and he throws himself fully at the task of leaving no conflicting stone unturned in this lesser-known war. For someone with very little background knowledge regarding this clash between collapsing and rising empires, you couldn't ask for a better guide to spell the fighting out in full-detail. At the heart of this review is a warning all potential readers must know: If you're coming into this book expecting a generalized survey of the political, military, economic and social trends contextualizing this lesser-known conflict, you're going to be disappointed. The introductory and closing chapters lend a few moments of thoughts to these aspects, but the bulk of the book is dedicated to the exact tracking of movements and clashes of military units of any and all size on both sides of the line. If reading page after page of divisional displacements, discussion on the latest military technology, and analysis of the characteristics of those in command, then you've found your book. Welcome it with open arms and be ready to get a supremely detailed atlas out for reference. Luckily I'm the type of reader who can love both types of books equally. It has been awhile since I had to familiarize myself with military unit sizes and the technology in play, but that's part of the fun for me with a straight military-history: It opens up so many doors for personal research while you're reading. Specialized 11-inch howitzers that turn the tide of battle in Japan's favor? Have to look that up. International coaling station dynamics and the constraints it imposed on navies of the day? Well, of course that's important enough to read some extra stuff about. Connaughton gives you tidbits to work with and the pacing is comfortable enough for you to hop in and out at your pleasure. When he isn't listing off unit position after unit position (you WILL get a hang of which armies and divisions and battalions are which, trust me), he is busy setting up the scene for the reader visually. While not descriptive to an obsessive level, you can appreciate his research and the fact that he has visited the relevant battlefields to get a better sense of what the soldiers there saw and probably felt. This goes a long way to making the book a worthwhile read. The Russo-Japanese War was a horror: It left 300,000 casualties in its wake, would bring violent convulsions to both powers involved, featured horrific meaningless loss as combatants adjusted to the realities new technologies brought to the battlefield, and perhaps the worst feature of modern war took center stage in that it was a drawn out war. Richard Connaughton pays respect to these aspects, and he brings these facets to life. For that, I give this well-researched and meticulously detailed recollection five stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Derek Weese

    There is, still, a lesson to be learned from this war. Possibly more than one. Russia: an aging Imperial power, abundant with decadent, idle nobility, power and space as well as a simmering ocean of discontent amongst the underclasses, and worst of all, a military that was strong on the outside, rotten on the inside. The Russian armed forces were, in most senses, an anachronism. Their last successful military outing, against Turkey twenty five years prior to their war with Japan, while successful There is, still, a lesson to be learned from this war. Possibly more than one. Russia: an aging Imperial power, abundant with decadent, idle nobility, power and space as well as a simmering ocean of discontent amongst the underclasses, and worst of all, a military that was strong on the outside, rotten on the inside. The Russian armed forces were, in most senses, an anachronism. Their last successful military outing, against Turkey twenty five years prior to their war with Japan, while successful, has been won against an even more doddering, corrupt, decaying and elderly empire than was their own. And the Turks military might was more outdated and anachronistic than was the Russian. And, for Russia, worse of all was the absolute void in any intellectual endeavor devoted to military/strategic affairs. Russia, at least her leaders, were perfectly accepting of simply resting upon their power, wealth and past glories. A frightening allegory to the modern United States could easily be made here...lesson number one. Japan: A young, vibrant, recently united people, exuberantly racing into modernity full steam ahead, embracing industrialization and eagerly absorbing any bit of military and strategic knowledge she can get her hands on. Looked at from this perspective, one can be forgiven for viewing this wars outcome as being pre-ordained. Author Connaughton describes the background, strategies, and narrates the combat of the war itself in a workmanlike fashion. While, as one reviewer relates, he does not put any passion into his writing (it is perfectly acceptable for an academic military historian to write in such a way that the reader actually looks forward to cracking open the book rather than feeling as though one must punch the clock, roll up their sleeves and count the minutes till it is over...just a friendly reminder to any military historians who might be reading), I found that this was more true of his descriptions of land combat. His narrations of the naval battles were actually quite good. The Japanese Army and Navy, united in purpose under their Emperor, fought the war far better than did the Russians. Simple as that. While the Russians, especially the soldiers in Manchuria and northern Korea, fought well, they did not fight as well as did the Japanese. True, as Connaughton points out, the Japanese Army never could win a decisive victory against the Russian Army (in fact, in some of their victories, their own losses were greater than were those of the vanquished), still they displayed something that is lesson number 2 for this war: the value of moral (battlefield) superiority over the enemy. In other words, the values that can best be described as spiritual-elan, morale, esprit de corps, aggression, the killer instinct (the emphasis on fighting a battle to actually win it, and then crush the enemy in the process, no great army is bereft of it)- all of these things, which cannot be measured scientifically, gave the Japanese the edge in this war. Modern Western (especially American) war doctrine is almost exclusively scientific. Logistics, materiel, firepower, maneuver, intelligence, etc... While all of these things are important, vital even, they leave something out. When your focus is on the scientific you fail to understand how Washington's Continentals stayed the fight when faced with almost consistent whippings, or how Lee's Rebels performed the feats they did in the face of overwhelming materiel inferiority and a broken logistical system, or how the Wehrmacht fought the entire industrialized world in WWII (and the Imperial German Army did the same in WWI) and punched way above their weight class the entire time. All of these things cannot be, in total, explained unless one realizes that their is, indeed, a spiritual element to warfare. Something the Japanese took for granted. Something Connaughton points out gave the Japanese the edge in this war, something American warfighters should never forget now. All in all this was a good little book. While I would have preferred something with a bit more meat, it was still a satisfying learning experience and a decently enjoyable read. This is the war that raised the curtain on the modern world, lighting the fuse on the bomb that was the device by which the entire world was changed in the 20th Century. You simply cannot understand WWI, WWII in Asia, or even modern Asia (or Russia's continuing strategic draw to Asia) without understanding this war. This book would be a good starting point. Recommended.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

    A rich and vivid history of the war, although it is mainly focused on the battles. The author is appreciative of the Japanese war effort and he is surprisingly lenient toward the Russian side. The narrative is chronological,and he does a great job describing the war’s origins, course and aftermath. He argues that Russia’s main weakness was that it had too many unqualified commanders, and was not helped by an intelligence apparatus vastly inferior to Japan’s. Russia’s performance is often lambasted A rich and vivid history of the war, although it is mainly focused on the battles. The author is appreciative of the Japanese war effort and he is surprisingly lenient toward the Russian side. The narrative is chronological,and he does a great job describing the war’s origins, course and aftermath. He argues that Russia’s main weakness was that it had too many unqualified commanders, and was not helped by an intelligence apparatus vastly inferior to Japan’s. Russia’s performance is often lambasted as a total disaster. Connaughton argues that Russian strategy was sound but poorly executed, and notes that the Russians fought with outdated tactics. The Russians did have superior logistics and defensive capabilities, and the Japanese could not always follow up on their victories. The maps are merely adequate, though, and at one point the author writes that a night march and dawn attack was “a new phenomenon of warfare” (it was?) He also hypes the appearance "for the first time in modern warfare [of] the construction of opposing lines of trenches” (huh?) Connaughton’s coverage of Japanese troop strengths also seems confused at times, and there is little on politics or diplomacy. The book also seems to be based mostly on other English-language works. A detailed, well-organized and insightful work.

  4. 4 out of 5

    MarcosKtulu

    This book’s title about the Russo-japanese war (1904-05) advances the viewpoint of the author on Russia´s effort, mainly as a story of incompetence, one blunder after another, when facing off a humble, yet ambitious, rising and underrated Japan. The story of the war depicted here is a story of the fight and constant retreat in southern Manchuria, a hard highland foreign to both contestants, but within their assumed and therefore clashing area of influence. Russian expansion had to cope with a ge This book’s title about the Russo-japanese war (1904-05) advances the viewpoint of the author on Russia´s effort, mainly as a story of incompetence, one blunder after another, when facing off a humble, yet ambitious, rising and underrated Japan. The story of the war depicted here is a story of the fight and constant retreat in southern Manchuria, a hard highland foreign to both contestants, but within their assumed and therefore clashing area of influence. Russian expansion had to cope with a general state of unpreparedness to confront a resolute foe, less doubtfull to exploite pre-emption, coordinated leadership, initial numerical advantage, morale, training and overall technological edge. This is the conclusion to be extracted from the movements in the theater of war: in each battle the Russians are unable to stop the Japanese, and thereafter retreat to the next defensible point along the Manchurian railway line, that is, a transsiberian branch, from where all slow but steady Russian supplies and reinforcements came from. Eventually all Japanese forces converge in the final and climatic battle of Mukden, which, despite the victory, proves once again ineffective to pocket and destroy the Russian army, in the persued style of Sedan. Naval engagements also favour Japan, but only the final battle of Tsushima proves decisive. The fleet Russians put against it finds itself in dire straits to cover the 20.000 miles journey from the Baltic Sea, another almost comical chapter of Russian despair, a self fulfilling prophecy. I enjoyed the chapter on the Siege of Port Arthur and the grisly description on the realities of modern warfare, like the high toll paid in human cost and destruction for objectives of high political value but little military importance, as symbolized in the 203-metre hill. This is a war of many clichés (the asian underdog beats the European favourite; the war that triggers the 1905 uprising in Russia; the war that represents the beginning of Japanese expansionism, etc.) but chiefly among them, is, that European military observers didin´t take proper note on how modern technology and tactics would play out 10 years on in Europe. The author devotes much attention to this “lessons not learned” factor through the narrative and the accounts of correspondents and foreign military observers.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chase Metcalf

    Leadership and Morale Comprehensive look at Russo-Japanese War that highlights the importance of leadership in morale in wars outcomes. Author provides strategic context, addresses participants strategies, and examines battlefield tactics and outcomes. The author concludes by addressing two major questions: 1) why were the Japanese able to consistently beat the Russians on land (leadership and morale) and 2) why were the lessons of the war not fully appreciated prior to WWI (institutional bias an Leadership and Morale Comprehensive look at Russo-Japanese War that highlights the importance of leadership in morale in wars outcomes. Author provides strategic context, addresses participants strategies, and examines battlefield tactics and outcomes. The author concludes by addressing two major questions: 1) why were the Japanese able to consistently beat the Russians on land (leadership and morale) and 2) why were the lessons of the war not fully appreciated prior to WWI (institutional bias and organizational interest). This is a solid read for those looking to understand this conflict though the absence of footnotes limits the readers ability to explore the historical reasoning despite the inclusion of a lengthy bibliography.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Herrholz Paul

    I did not get very far with this. The style does not appeal to me. The language is a little clumsy in places - `lumps of coal covered the town like confetti` - `In many respects this occupation resembled what we now expect of the stereotype Japanese package tour`. There is a lack of sensitivity. Judging by the first sixty pages or so that I read, the book would seem to be populated with a plethora of researched information but it is scattered over the page in a kind of splatter effect, similar t I did not get very far with this. The style does not appeal to me. The language is a little clumsy in places - `lumps of coal covered the town like confetti` - `In many respects this occupation resembled what we now expect of the stereotype Japanese package tour`. There is a lack of sensitivity. Judging by the first sixty pages or so that I read, the book would seem to be populated with a plethora of researched information but it is scattered over the page in a kind of splatter effect, similar to the descriptions of the effects of high explosives on the human body which the author has recreated for us. As I have not read the book in its entirety I will not rate it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Just A. Bean

    Aahahaha. I finished it! It took me a month, but I read the whole thing. The topic was actually quite interesting, but the author was vastly more interested in the minutia of troop movements than I ever will be. (I perked right up for the naval section.) I feel like almost all of the "At 2pm the seventh battalion charged Feature 1701-D and was repulsed by the second battalion" stuff could have been used for more cultural context of biographies of the major players. Prose was often clunky. Anyway, Aahahaha. I finished it! It took me a month, but I read the whole thing. The topic was actually quite interesting, but the author was vastly more interested in the minutia of troop movements than I ever will be. (I perked right up for the naval section.) I feel like almost all of the "At 2pm the seventh battalion charged Feature 1701-D and was repulsed by the second battalion" stuff could have been used for more cultural context of biographies of the major players. Prose was often clunky. Anyway, I learned quite a bit about the war. Also troop movements.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chris F

    A very good account of this fascinating war that foreshadowed the horrors of WWI.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alexnd05

    This book deserves mixed a review. I picked it up when I went to the library searching for The Fleet That Had To Die, another work on the Russo-Japanese War. However, when I found that the book I was searching for was written in the 1950s—the quality of historical writings prior to the 1960s is a little suspect in my experience—I decided to read Rising Sun and the Tumbling Bear instead. Chapters One and Two were extremely interesting. However, the authors often allowed the story to become bogged This book deserves mixed a review. I picked it up when I went to the library searching for The Fleet That Had To Die, another work on the Russo-Japanese War. However, when I found that the book I was searching for was written in the 1950s—the quality of historical writings prior to the 1960s is a little suspect in my experience—I decided to read Rising Sun and the Tumbling Bear instead. Chapters One and Two were extremely interesting. However, the authors often allowed the story to become bogged down in the tactical minutia—Regiment X advanced on Hill Y to attack Brigade Z. Connaughton demonstrated very little ability to convey the wider importance of individual engagements or make the reader care. Despite maps included at the beginning of almost every chapter, I rarely understood who a particular engagement fit into a larger battle. In this way, chapters five through nine and parts of nine and ten were painfully dull and I ended up skimming portions of them. If Connaughton was intent on writing a comprehensive tactical history of the Russo-Japanese War, it needed to several times longer to adequately explain events. Given how well this book started, I was very disappointed with the final product.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bill V

    This a good book in its own right, although it's not as good as The Tide at Sunrise by Dennis Warner. This is the second book I've read on this war. It's solid as a companion book to The Tide at Sunrise. My biggest problem with the book is the total absence of footnotes. There is an extensive bibliography where presumably all of the interesting facts and anecdotes come from. The anecdotes make for the best part of this book. The writer's style at times seems a bit too casual at times for my comfo This a good book in its own right, although it's not as good as The Tide at Sunrise by Dennis Warner. This is the second book I've read on this war. It's solid as a companion book to The Tide at Sunrise. My biggest problem with the book is the total absence of footnotes. There is an extensive bibliography where presumably all of the interesting facts and anecdotes come from. The anecdotes make for the best part of this book. The writer's style at times seems a bit too casual at times for my comfort. Like Tide, there are also too many allusions made to future wars, specifically world war I & II. To a certain extent I can understand the inferences made to the First World War as many of the lessons learned in the Russo-Japanese War were relearned at a much higher cost in the latter war, especially on the western front. This book has a lot of maps which helps in following the narrative. I would have also liked some economic comparative charts or charts on comparative strengths in machine guns, men, cavalry leading up to a battle or at specific points in time.

  11. 5 out of 5

    kagami

    I don't know anything about military tactics, logistics, battle formations etc. and since this book describes a war, I was expecting to have to plough through boring chapters of incomprehensible material. Contrary to my pre-conception, "Rising Sun and Tumbling Bear" turned out to be a surprisingly readable and engaging book. There are descriptions of battle formations and armaments but they are meaningful even to a non-specialist, and interspersed among portrays of the opposing armies' morale, t I don't know anything about military tactics, logistics, battle formations etc. and since this book describes a war, I was expecting to have to plough through boring chapters of incomprehensible material. Contrary to my pre-conception, "Rising Sun and Tumbling Bear" turned out to be a surprisingly readable and engaging book. There are descriptions of battle formations and armaments but they are meaningful even to a non-specialist, and interspersed among portrays of the opposing armies' morale, the practicalities of the battle, the characters of the leaders, excerpts from contemporary newspapers, and the greater geo-political background of the unfolding events. Overall, I think it is a page-turner, and a very informative book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Features some strong historical evidence/facts on the conflict, but isn't the most analytical source you could find. Somewhat descriptive. Some of the minutia can be tedious, especially without more graphics. For those looking to research the Russo-Japanese War, I'd suggest reading the intro and skimming the rest. There are better sources out there. Giving three stars based upon use in an academic setting. Features some strong historical evidence/facts on the conflict, but isn't the most analytical source you could find. Somewhat descriptive. Some of the minutia can be tedious, especially without more graphics. For those looking to research the Russo-Japanese War, I'd suggest reading the intro and skimming the rest. There are better sources out there. Giving three stars based upon use in an academic setting.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Good, only disappointing is the lack of footnotes. It was interesting to find out how much circumstances eventually seemed to favour the Japanese. Even battles like Tsushima were aided primarily by both luck (the Russian fleet could have gone East past Japan and avoided the Japanese) and incomprehensible Russian incompetence.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    Connaughton is a military historian so he uses a lot of military terminology. Also, he often gets bogged down in the units involved. In every battle, he mentions which regiment, battalion, division, and corps was involved. It was a little too technical, but I bought it for $2 on clearance so no harm no foul.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sammy Duncan

    Incredibly interesting subject matter but just a very hard book to read. I found myself wanting to put it down and do anything else but read even though I wanted to have a better understanding of the subject matter.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Adéla Tůmová

    Velice podrobná kniha, která zaznamenává snad každý střet války, v tom je velmi věrná. Žel, autor mě zcela znechutil už na začátku, kdy carské Rusko 19. století v podstatě vykládá jako věrného předchůdce Sovětského svazu a tím to celé vyloženě zabíjí. Pro military fanoušky určitě dobré.

  17. 4 out of 5

    William Shep

    Probably the definitive book on the subject, done with exhaustive detail and exhausting to read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chi Pham

    Dry beyond belief, and my eyes squinted so much trying to make out the little font that the book employed. I guess I am just not cut out for military history stuffs.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Russell

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kakistos

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sketch

  23. 5 out of 5

    Philip White

  24. 4 out of 5

    Neal Pollard

  25. 4 out of 5

    MR ROSS A HILLYARD

  26. 4 out of 5

    'Aussie Rick'

  27. 5 out of 5

    Thomas O

  28. 5 out of 5

    TG

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wes

  30. 4 out of 5

    Xavier Rubio

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