Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wisconsinite Historian Was Born on This Day

Pulitzer Prize winner, John Toland was born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin on June 29,1912. He won the prize for his The Rising Sun: the Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945. This work was significant due to the fact that it was the first book in English to tell the history of the war in the Pacific from the Japanese point of view, rather than from an American perspective. It was based on original and extensive interviews with high Japanese officials who survived the war, and chronicles Imperial Japan from the military rebellion of February 1936 to the end of World War II. 

Toland tried to write history as a straightforward narrative, with minimal analysis or judgement. An exception to this was his Infamy: Pearl Harbor and its Aftermath in which he wrote about evidence that President Roosevelt knew about the plans of attack, but remained silent. As you might imagine, the book was widely criticized at the time. Since the original publication, Toland added new evidence and rebutted early critics.

Toland is most noted for his biography of Hitler, for which he also did original research. He didn't make much mone from his Pulitzer Prize-winning, The Rising Sun, but was set for life from the earnings from his Hitler bio. 

While he predominantly wrote nonfiction, Toland also wrote two historical novels, Gods of War and Occupation.

Toland died of pneumonia on January 4, 2004 in Connecticut.

Happy reading,

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