I hardly need to say that a book about war is depressing, but Max Hastings is depressingly good. He makes this squalor of men come alive—there are images stuck more firmly in my head now than any war movie has managed previously. It is not the sort of book you forget. It was good enough to leave me harrowed and subtly changed. It is difficult for a while to be living in Japan. I began the book worried that it would be too specific, too small in scope, too laden with details I don’t care about—I ended it wanting more.