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Sino-Japanese War: Book and Movie Comparison

Nobody would deny that history is still quite complicated discipline, so that it has connections with many other scientific fields. One of the closest connections is a relation to culture studies. In fact, these disciplines influence each other. One of the central issues of these influences has become a cultural perspective of historic events. Namely, the evidence of cultural interpretation of certain event is becoming an obvious phenomenon in the majority of cases. A perfect example of such a phenomenon can be provided in numerous pieces of art, which are referred to the Sino-Japanese war. Taking this point into consideration, it is necessary to say that this paper touches upon the comparison and contrasting of the book and the movie about this war, concerning various political, cultural, and military issues. To be more precise, the paper briefly describes the book written by Claire Lee Chennault and emphasizes on its basic messages. In a similar manner, the paper gives an account to the movie directed by Chang Cheh. As a consequence, this paper explains the implications for this movie. Eventually, the book and the movie are actually compared and contrasted in order to reveal cultural perceptions of Sino-Japanese war. It is needless to say that the paper does not evaluate any actions of the participants of this war. Having outlined the thesis and the structure of the paper, it is necessary to move on to the next section.


The chosen for the comparison book is called Way of a Fighter: The Memoirs of Claire Lee Chennault, written in 1982. Actually, the title of the book speaks for itself. It is memoirs of the American pilot, who participated in Sino-Japanese War in 1937-1945. In particular, this book presents a wide range of the author’s thoughts about this war. However, these thoughts are quite different from the traditional historic opinion about Sino-Japanese War. According to the author, it was a huge mistake of the United States to get involved in this war, which led to the Second World War. Besides that, the author was quite a scandalous person, because he had very strong arguments with the head officers. Moreover, this book is not about criticism of the military officers only. In fact, the author tells his truth about a weak political leadership in these years. That is why this book was chosen, as long as it presents a different vision of this war.


The movie which has been chosen for the discussion is called 7 Men Army, directed by Chang Chen. The plot revolves around the Japanese invasion on Chinese territory and heroic actions of the seven Chinese soldiers, who managed to convince the enemy that there were a powerful army and made them withdraw. The movie received high marks from critics because of the epic storyline and good direction. Needless to say, the movie describes the events from the perspective of China, so that Japan is presented as an enemy. As it was mentioned earlier, the nationalism in China has grown considerably during the period of this war. That is why the main emphasis is placed on the Chinese soldiers. Thus, the movie does not touch upon political issues much, as long as it was particularly focused on the depiction of the Chinese soldiers’ heroism.


To start with, it is to be said that the depiction of Japanese Armed Forces as an aggressor is quite a common phenomenon for these years. Thus, the movie is created in a traditional way. To be more exact, the movie implies the message that this war was won due to the efforts of the Chinese Armed Forces. It is quite obvious because the movie does not mention any direct involvement of the U.S., Soviet Union, British, or French armies. Again, this evidence emphasizes on the growing nationalism in China. As a matter of fact, there is a wide range of factors, which will be addressed a little bit later. Eventually, the movie regards Japan as an aggressor, which was quite common, while it does not give any account to the other participants of the war, except Chinese soldiers. First of all, it is certainly true that nationalism in China has influenced the perception of Sino-Japanese war. Actually, Chinese nationalism is known to be the most effective booster of the social movement during this war. What is more, it is regarded as the most prominent discourse of the war, as long as the narration of nationalism managed to boost such a strong struggle for the native land (Liu and Wei 206). In addition, Western experts also confirm that Chinese nationalism affected the war considerably. The motives were strong, as well. The nationalistic doctrine assumed that Chinese people should deserve their lands in a struggle against the enemy. As a result, it was a certain rise of the Chinese nation. Therefore, the nationalism really took place in China during 1937-1945. Except these issues, it is also important to touch upon the reasons why China was tending to disregard the involvement of the other countries in the war.

Second, the nationalism in China affected the perception of the other states in the war, as well. As the nationalistic doctrine of China stated that the war is a struggle for the native lands, this war was mainly considered to be a “personal” deal of the nation because it was supposed to prove its eligibility for these lands. Having considered this point, it should be noted that China did not need any help from the side of the other countries. In case some state is going to help China, this intention implies the interests for these countries, which do not coincide with the interests of China. In such a way, the involvement of the other countries in this war was not welcomed by China, even though they provided a considerable help several times. All in all, these are the main points regarding the movie 7 Men Army and its implications. Taking this statement into account, it is necessary to compare the movie to the book.

In comparison to the movie, the book is quite different. To be more exact, the author provides a strong example of the Russian leadership, as it helped the Soviet Union to win the Second World War (Chennault 6). The book judges the events from the military perspective, as long as the author was a combat pilot. Still, the author emphasizes on the absence of the necessity to participate in this war. The author explains it by the consequences of the Second World War. As the author admits, his criticism may not satisfy some of his colleagues and even can offend them. Still, it is the truth, which the author would like to tell in order to warn the future generations from the same mistakes. The assumptions of the author are quite reasonable, though. Taking all these points into consideration, it is necessary to discuss several key points of the book from the historic perspective.

As a matter of fact, the book assumes that it was a needless war for the United States. In fact, the author emphasizes on the absence of any particular reason for the U.S. to be involved in this war. It is quite apparent that the United States does not have any borders with Japan, China, and even with French areas of the Far East. Thus, the U.S. would not benefit from this war in any particular way (Walker and Malici 146). What is more, the U.S. made a mistake by attempting to get involved in the war at two fronts simultaneously. The history witnesses about such attempts as an obvious failure to succeed in any of fronts at all. Therefore, it is possible to say that the criticism by Claire Lee Chennault is rather reasonable regarding the lack of an eligible political motivation for the participation in Sino-Japanese war.

Furthermore, the author assumes that the lack of political leadership worsened the outcomes of this war for the United States. As it was mentioned before, the book suggests that the Russian managed to mobilize its forces due to the strong leadership. The author strongly believes that the country needed a strong leader at such hard times. However, the United States failed to formulate its plan of actions at the East, so that it resulted in numerous military losses. Again, this opinion is quite justified, as long as the U.S. could not keep a balance between economic and military pressure on Japan and compete for its influence in China. Apparently, the nationalism in China has grown quite sufficiently, so that it managed to resist American attempts to establish its influence within the area. In contrast, the U.S. could have expanded on the East with a proactive behavior, but it would require a strong leadership, as well. Still, it is essential to tackle several issues.

Speaking about the similarities between the book and the movie, it is to be said that both of them deny the significance of the United States in Sino-Japanese war. Regarding the book, it strongly criticizes the politics and careless military commanding of the U.S. As for the movie, it just does not pay any attention to the involvement of the other countries, because the movie is affected by nationalistic moods in China. Then, the book and the movie regard Japan as an aggressor together. However, the book considers Japan to be a threat to the entire world, while the movie emphasizes on the local conflict due to the same nationalistic reason. In fact, such denial is quite obvious regarding the fact that the U.S. was not actually fighting on favor of China but Europe, especially France (Cohen 61). That is why, such assumptions can be regarded relevant to a certain extent.

With regard to the differences between the book and the movie, it should be admitted that the book’s narration addresses the U.S. perspective of Sino-Japanese war. As it was mentioned in the related section, the book critically analyses the events of this war concerning the mistakes of the U.S. government and armed forces. The movie is particularly focused on the Chinese perspective, as it is quite obvious throughout the entire movie and this paper. Moreover, the book discusses political and military aspects of the war, while the movie depicts only the military side of this conflict. In addition, the acceptance of the book and the movie is also different. As long as the book contains quite controversial ideas, it received a strong reaction from the side of the society, politicians, and historians. On the contrary, the movie received the highest marks because it supported a common idea. All in all, these are the main differences and similarities between the book and the movie.


All in all, it is to be said that this paper has compared and contrasted the book Way of a Fighter: The Memoirs of Claire Lee Chennault and the movie 7 Men Army from the perspective of their addressing the events of Sino-Japanese war. To be more exact, this paper has briefly described the book and revealed its main assumptions concerning the subject. In the same way, the paper has given an account to the movie and explained its implications. Then, the paper has actually compared and contrasted the movie and the book. In fact, the following conclusion is quite obvious, but it is important to highlight several points, because they imply the difference between the book and the movie.

To conclude, it should be admitted that the main difference between the book and the movie is based on the different perspectives which are tackled. In such a way, the book addresses the events of the war from the perspective of the United States, even though the author expresses a strong criticism of the government’s actions during these years. At the same time, the movie primarily depicts the Chinese contribution to this war, especially regarding the local conflict, which was quite strong in the early years of the war. To return to the point of the participation of U.S. in the war, it is worth saying that the book and the movie agree on the fact that the United States did not make a significant contribution to the war though. Therefore, the book explains that by the lack of the strong leadership and reasonable military commanders. The movie just does not say anything about the involvement of any country except China, as long as it was supporting a nationalistic doctrine. To be more specific, China has been revealed struggling for their lands because this war was considered to be the duty of the Chinese nation, which they have to do in order to prove their right for these territories.

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