Author(s): David Day
Reluctant Nation deals with a vital period in the history of the modern world as the Second World War spread into the Pacific, engulfing the European empires and dragging the United States into the war. The present political geography of the Pacific was established during these years as the Allies fought Japan while keeping a wary eye on each other as they jostled for post-war dominance. Despite repeated assurances by Churchill, Britain fought a limited war in the Pacific as she sought to limit the political fall-out from the Singapore disaster of 1942 and to recover her Far East empire. In the final analysis, though, she chose to maximize her reconstruction effort at home rather than to fulfil commitments to the war against Japan. Australia had imperial dreams of her own. Australia soon found that her grandiose ambitions outran her limited capacity to achieve them. As with Britain, the political attractions of domestic reconstruction overshadowed her territorial ambitions. Even the United States, the new power-broker in the Pacific, found that her ability to shape the region according to her own design was limited. Based on an extensive use of private diaries and confidential papers, David Day has written a wide-ranging reinterpretation of the Pacific War that deserves to be read by all those seeking to understand these explosive events.