Showa 1939-1944


A master cartoonist and war vet details Japan's involvement in World War II

Showa 1939 - 1944: A History of Japan continues the award-winning author Shigeru Mizuki's autobiographical and historical account of Showa-era Japan. This volume covers the final moments of the lead-up to World War II and the first few years of the Pacific War, and is a chilling reminder of the harshness of life in Japan during this highly militarized epoch.


Mizuki writes affectingly about the impact on the Japanese populace of world-changing moments, including the devastating Second Sino-Japanese War, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the first half of the Pacific War. On a personal level, these years mark a dramatic transformation in Mizuki's life, too. His idyllic childhood in the countryside comes to a definitive end when he's drafted into the army and shipped off to the tiny island of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. His life becomes a constant struggle for survival, not only against the constant Allied attacks but against the harsh discipline of the Japanese army officers. During his time in Rabaul, Mizuki comes to understand the misery and beauty of the island itself, a place that will permanently mark him and haunt him for the rest of his life.
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“In [Showa], legendary manga artist Mizuki draws an exaggerated, hyper-cartoony version of himself amid some of the grimmest realities of 20th Century Japan, and lets that tension work a sly, revelatory magic.” —NPR

“Shigeru Mizuki's Showa 1939–1944: A History of Japan [is] an unflinching history of the harsh realities of the war year's in Japan by a Japanese veteran.” —Publishers Weekly Spring 2014 Top Ten

“Passionate and meticulously researched (with copious explanatory footnotes and endnotes) Showa is an astounding and sweeping epic, and a must-read. It offers an indelible and engaging combination of human storyline, riveting life-and-death plot twists, historical education and passionately conveyed moral messaging on the horrors of war.” —Popmatters



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