2 OCTOBER 1942, Page 18

Before Battle

How Japan Plans to Win. By Kinoaki Matsuo. (Harrap. 8s. 6d.)

IN a recent number of the New Yorker there was a drawing of two prosperous ladies at ease in a New England meadow. Suddenly one of them looks up from her newspaper, consternation on her plump face. " Oh dear," she sighs, " the war seems to be going everywhere, Herbert and I went on the ' Empress of Britain '! " For those of us who love those green islands, the orchid-festooned forests through which the Japanese now infiltrate, such pangs as these must be recurrent. Nor will Mr. Hallett-Abend's new book discourage them.

An American journalist, distinguished for his knowledge of the Far East, Mr. Abend undertook some 12 months ago a flying tour of the Pacific, Pearl Harbour, New Caledonia, New Zealand, the Commonwealth, the N.E.I., A.anila, Singapore. It is through his eyes that we have our last view of the Pacific as it should be, splendid and untroubled save by the rare ferocity of the wind.

The purpose of Mr. Abend's journey was of course political

rather than nostalgic; his book is largely made up of articles which he wrote at- le time, on the imminence of conflict with Japan. After due allowance has been made for the inevitable time- lag, it must still be said, I think, that Mr. Abend, like so many first- class American reporters, is at his best when he is least concerned with immediate political problems. The- presentation of abstruse conflicts in a simple yet dramatic guise fulfilled in its time a useful function; Gunthers, the Abends, the Reynoldsts, certainly deserve te gratitude of plain men. But in the fourth year of the war we need something more substantial than the article built round a telling headline. For this reason Mr. Abend's book, lively and intelligent though it is, leaves one with a strange feeling of political insufficiency.

It is another matter when he is content to describe his own visual experiences, without drawing any political implications from them. The exaltation of flying over the Pacific, the beauty of Australian girls, the strangely bad teeth of New Zealanders, of these subjects Mr. Abend writes with charm and vigour. As a picture of the other hemisphere on the verge of war, Ramparts of the Pacific is well worth reading. As a contribution to our understanding of the Pacfic war, its value is perhaps less obvious.

How japan Plans to Win purports to be the translation of a Japanese propaganda work, obtained from the Los Angeles hotel room of two visiting Japanese officers. A number of such works, stressing the " inevitability ",of war between the. Japanese Empire and the Anglo-Saxon world, have appeared in Japan during the last few years. Their value was essentially a peace-time one. The first bomb on Pearl Harbour put the lot of them out of date. As an insight into Japanese aggressive psychology, this particular book is of course illuminating. But those who expect dramatic- revelations of Tokyo's war policy will be disappointed byit. The two Japanese officers in their Los Angeles hotel were not perhaps as careless as the publishers would have us believe.