Brief Book Review: The Imjin War: Japan’s Sixteenth-Century Invasion of Korea and Attempt to Conquer China by Samuel Hawley

Pros:

  • All aspects of the entire war were covered.
  • Background information about the protagonists, Korea, Japan, China, put the war in historical context.
  • Complicated political maneuvering of all three combatants were described well.

Cons:

  • The author is a journalist. At times, the book read like a magazine article with too many irrelevant details.
  • The book was about 1/3 too long. There was a lot of fluff (see above), the author’s writing style was verbose, the section about the subsequent history of the three nations was unnecessary.
  • The author clearly did not know much about military operations. Thus the logistics problems faced by the Japanese armies were not adequately explained. Other than brief mentions of types of armaments, there is no discussion of tactics. The author fails to distinguish between paper strength and actual combat strength of armies and subunits.

Despite some issues with the book, it was a good read and I learned about an historical episode of which I had been ignorant. I give it a rating of 7/10.

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