Russo-Japanese War

John W. Steinberg

in Military History

ISBN: 9780199791279
Published online February 2012 | | DOI:
Russo-Japanese War

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The historiography of the Russo-Japanese War can be divided into three phases. The first, the period between the war itself and the outbreak of World War I, was the shortest in time span and the most prolific in numbers of works written. This outpouring of publications resulted in this war being observed by every military establishment and news agency in the world. The level of interest in the Russo-Japanese War rested on two facts: First, the idea of a small and rising Asian power engaging in a conflict with an established and huge European colonial power captured the imaginations of everyone. The other substantial issue was the use of weapons that were the product of a century of industrial development. The conclusions of these pre–World War I studies revealed that the battlefield had become intensely lethal, for which the belligerents were not well prepared in any aspect. Moreover, the defeat of Imperial Russia infused a level of hope and energy to struggle for liberation into the people of color throughout the colonial world. The outbreak of World War I almost rendered the Russo-Japanese War to the dustbin of history. A mini resurgence of studies occurred in the post–World War II period, thereby marking the second phase of publications on this Far Eastern conflict. These books offer readers a basic narrative of the course of the war both on land and sea. The analytical thrust of this literature places the war within the interpretative motif of conventional military history. The third and most recent phase of publications on the Russo-Japanese War occurred with the war’s centennial. Edited collections of essays, composed of articles written by international teams of scholars, were published to commemorate the one-hundredth anniversary of the conflict. These studies focus on how much that occurred in Manchuria in 1904–1905 was repeated on a larger scale, primarily in Europe proper, in World War I, in 1914–1918. This premise prompted a historiographic debate over whether the significance of the war had been missed by previous scholarship. Because of the far-reaching global implications of the war, factors ranging from international political, financial, and military relationships to the scale of the battlefield(s), to the size of armies and duration of battles, resulted in conclusions that sought to contextualize it either as a large prelude to World War I or as a separate global conflict that should be renamed “World War Zero.”

Article.  11236 words. 

Subjects: Military History ; Pre-20th Century Warfare ; First World War ; Second World War ; Post-WW2 Military History

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