Book Review: Slaughter at Sea: The Story of Japan's Naval War Crimes


by Mark Felton

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2007. Pp. ix, 212. Illus., append., notes, biblio., index. $39.95. ISBN:1591142636

Atrocities committed by Japanese troops in China and elsewhere during World War II have been extensively documented and well known to even the most casual student of the war. But criminal acts by personnel of the Imperial Navy have largely been overlooked. This oversight is remedied by Slaughter at Sea, from the author of Japan's Gestapo: Murder, Mayhem and Torture in Wartime Asiaand othe rworks on the Asia-Pacific war.  

Slaughter at Sea covers, often in grim detail, numerous atrocities by Japanese naval personnel, the torture and murder of prisoners of war, including American pilots during the Midway Campaign and many submariners, as well as the brutal treatment of civilians. 

Felton attributes this to Japanese culture. He fails, however, to explain why prior to the onset of the ongoing "China Incident" in the 1930s, Western observers considered Japanese wartime behavior toward prisoners and civilians to be very "correct," notably during the Russo-Japanese and First World Wars. 

Despite this failure, the book is useful for those with an interest in the Pacific War or the Law of War. 
Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

Buy it at



Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close