The Unpredictability of the Past

Memories of the Asia-Pacific War in U.S.–East Asian Relations

The Unpredictability of the Past

American Encounters/Global Interactions

More about this series

Book Pages: 352 Illustrations: 7 illustrations Published: August 2007

History > Asian History, U.S. History, Politics > International Relations

In The Unpredictability of the Past, an international group of historians examines how collective memories of the Asia-Pacific War continue to affect relations among China, Japan, and the United States. The contributors are primarily concerned with the history of international relations broadly conceived to encompass not only governments but also nongovernmental groups and organizations that influence the interactions of peoples across the Pacific. Taken together, the essays provide a rich, multifaceted analysis of how the dynamic interplay between past and present is manifest in policymaking, popular culture, public commemorations, and other arenas.

The contributors interpret mass media sources, museum displays, monuments, film, and literature, as well as the archival sources traditionally used by historians. They explore how American ideas about Japanese history shaped U.S. occupation policy following Japan’s surrender in 1945, and how memories of the Asia-Pacific War influenced Washington and Tokyo policymakers’ reactions to the postwar rise of Soviet power. They investigate topics from the resurgence of Pearl Harbor images in the U.S. media in the decade before September 11, 2001, to the role of Chinese war museums both within China and in Chinese-Japanese relations, and from the controversy over the Smithsonian Institution’s Enola Gay exhibit to Japanese tourists’ reactions to the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor. One contributor traces how a narrative commemorating African Americans’ military service during World War II eclipsed the history of their significant early-twentieth-century appreciation of Japan as an ally in the fight against white supremacy. Another looks at the growing recognition and acknowledgment in both the United States and Japan of the Chinese dimension of World War II. By focusing on how memories of the Asia-Pacific War have been contested, imposed, resisted, distorted, and revised, The Unpredictability of the Past demonstrates the crucial role that interpretations of the past play in the present.

Contributors. Marc Gallicchio, Waldo Heinrichs, Haruo Iguchi, Xiaohua Ma, Frank Ninkovich, Emily S. Rosenberg, Takuya Sasaki, Yujin Yaguchi, Daqing Yang


“An ambitious book. . . . This work is intellectually engaging. . . . Overall, the book provides an excellent description of divergent historical memories and some insights into the implications for East Asian stability.” — Paul Midford, International History Review

The Unpredictability of the Past is a valuable text not only for scholars of East Asia or United States, but also for the general audience interested in memory studies.” — Akiko Takenaka, H-Net Reviews

“[T]he variety of coverage and insight makes this collection necessary reading for anyone interested in the politics of war memory in China, Japan, and the United States.” — James J. Orr, Pacific Historical Review

“[There are] many interesting ideas introduced and debated in The Unpredictability of the Past. The volume is sure to establish its niche within the growing body of literature on war and memory.” — Mark Caprio, Journal of Military History

“The editor of this anthology has done the academic community a real favor by making available, in a cohesive volume, revised versions of a set of stimulating essays.” — Franziska Seraphim, The Historian

“This book demonstrates an inspiring analytical approach to one of the most significant issues within international relations in north-east Asia. It results in fresh insights and a deeper understanding of the issues.” — Tomoko Akami, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology

"The Unpredictability of the Past succeeds admirably in proving that history truly matters in foreign affairs. . . . [I]t is a fine work of both synthesis and new scholarship.” — Andrew J. Huebner, Journal of American History

"An excellent collection of essays that are engaging, well-written, and thought-provoking." — Naoko Shibusawa, Journal of Colonialism & Colonial History

"Gallicchio's work sheds a unique light on Asian memory studies. This book is a must-read for advanced undergraduate level and graduate courses in Asian history and memory fields." — Mikyoung Kim, Pacific Affairs

"Relying on a wealth of sources, especially public information, this corpus helps to enrich the interpretation of complex, sometime volatile and uncertain international relations in the current Pacific Rim. Highly recommended." — G. Zheng, Choice

The Unpredictability of the Past advances an important and growing literature on the construction of history and public memory, in which World War II and U.S.–East Asian relations figure prominently. By an array of recognized senior and promising younger scholars, the essays introduce an impressive and engaging range of topics and sources.” — Joseph M. Henning, author of Outposts of Civilization: Race, Religion, and the Formative Years of American-Japanese Relations

“Bringing together essays by some of the best authors writing international history today, The Unpredictability of the Past provides fascinating insights into the formation and uses of memories related to World War II. It is an outstanding collection.” — Thomas W. Zeiler, author of Unconditional Defeat: Japan, America, and the End of World War II


Availability: In stock
Price: $28.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Marc Gallicchio is Professor of History at Villanova University. He is the author of The African American Encounter with Japan and China: Black Internationalism in Asia, 1895–1945 and The Cold War Begins in Asia: American East Asian Policy and the Fall of the Japanese Empire.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction / Marc Gallicchio 1

I. Memory’s Many Forms

1. Remembering Pearl Harbor before September 11, 2001 / Emily S. Rosenberg 15

II. Policymakers and the Uses of Historical Memory

2. The First Revisionists: Bonner Fellers, Herbert Hoover, and Japan’s Decision to Surrender / Haruo Iguchi 51

3. History and Memory in Postwar U.S.-Japanese Relations / Frank Ninkovich 85

4. Cold War Diplomacy and Memories of the Pacific War: A Comparison of the American and Japanese Cases / Takuya Sasaki 121

III. Making Memory Concrete: Museums, Monuments, and Memorials

5. Constructing a National Memory of the War: War Museums in China, Japan, and the United States / Xiaohua Ma 155

6. The Enola Gay and the Contested Public Memory / Waldo Heinrichs 201

7. War Memories across the Pacific Japanese Visitors at the Arizona Memorial / Yujin Yaguchi 234

IV. Transpacific Memories

8. Memory and the Lost Found Relationship between Black Americans and Japan / Marc Gallicchio 255

9. Entangled Memories: China in American and Japanese Remembrances of World War II / Daqing Yang 287

Concluding Remarks / Marc Gallicchio 319

Contributors 329

Index 331
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3945-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3933-5
Publicity material