Review of ‘#Tokyo45’

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What if there’d been social media during World War II? An interesting question given the pervasiveness of social media in today’s world, and one that author Philip Gibson has tried to answer in #Tokyo45, another in his Hashtag Histories; books about historical events told through social media postings. The author provided me a free review copy of #Tokyo45.

The book begins with the capture of Okinawa and, using historical materials, follows the thoughts and actions of the main protagonists in a series of Twitter feeds (tweets). Gibson gives us communications from both sides, from U.S. figures such as Henry Stimson and Harry Truman, and from Japanese such as Koichi Kido, clarifying that the two sides wouldn’t have been able to see each other’s tweets, as they would be in different systems, but showing them to the reader for continuity and better understanding of the timeline. We are, therefore, being put in the outstanding position of being an outside observer to events that would have, at the time, been shrouded in a cloak of secrecy.

Gibson takes us day by day, tweet by tweet, through the final 54 days of World War II, inserting biographical snippets of the main players as he usually does in his Hashtag History series. The result is a better understanding of the human dynamics of the decision making in this crucial period in world history than one would get from a library full of history books.

I’m giving #Tokyo45 a solid four stars.

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