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Essay 2- Prompt 2

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Essay 2- Prompt 2

  1. 1. Essay 2: Prompt 2: Russo-Japanese War World History of the Twentieth Century 20W Class Section No. 050 Nicandro Mendoza Kurt Weber Discussion No. 060 Tuesday, 3:10-4:00 CHASS University of California, Riverside Fall, 2016
  2. 2. Edwin P. Hoyt’s account of the Russo-Japanese war, “Japan’s War: The Great Pacific Conflict”, widely focused on military conquest and the journey of one general’s pathway to naval supremacy. In contrast to Hoyt’s piece, Hugh Seton-Watson in “The Decline of Imperial Russia” directed his attention to the political and economic implications that the Russo-Japanese war had on Imperial Russia. Because of the nature of this old-fashioned, historical writing, both Hoyt and Watson only provided accounts from high ministers, military leaders, and political figures and provided little to no account from middle and lower class citizens from their respective nations. Along with these accounts, there is a level of implicit bias that comes from the very Japanese and Russian centric knowledge base of each writer and from the clearly one sided accounts that were utilized to write these historical summaries of the war. The opposing views in perspectives is noteworthy because it demonstrates the power a historian has on the history they are writing about by sharing it the way they deem fit. Starting off with the title, tendentious viewpoints are already being pushed on the reader. By calling the war “Japan’s War”1, Hoyt fails to acknowledge that the war revolved around two nations and not solely on Japan. This immediately makes Japan seem like the “Main Player” in this war and makes Russia appear like a side thought. A Russian account of the war would greatly influence the title because it would highlight the Russian’s involvement in this seemingly one-sided war and would help remove the idea that the war was based off of Japanese interests alone. Even though most of the accounts in Hoyt’s piece are elitist, he also shares personal, anti- politician, anti-American sentiments in his piece that reflects a more “common” Japanese sentiment. By writing phrases such as “Red-necked Americans”2, Hoyt shares with the reader the anti-American rhetoric that was widely spread to the “common” people of Japan by their 1 Edwin P. Hoyt, “Japan’s War: The Great Pacific Conflict” 2 Hoyt, 38
  3. 3. government. Even through this account, Hoyt is still not able to provide a completely unaltered viewpoint from the lower classes because it is all propaganda fed to the Japanese populous by an authoritarian government. Watson provides a more impartial point of view in his telling of the Russo-Japanese War throughout his account starting with the title. The connection is made throughout his paper where, in parts, Watson describes the way the Japanese defeated Russia and attained land and other compensation from their victories against defeated nations3. The relation is clear, the title of Watson’s piece is aptly named “The Fall of Imperial Russia”4 so it would make sense that Watson describes the factors of the fall of imperial Russia, one being the Russo-Japanese War, in an appropriate way with as little bias as possible. Watson, opposite to Hoyt, does not include remarks that are derogatory to other nations and keeps a more respectful tone. The issue with Watson’s writing was not the use of skewed opinions, rather it was the lack of a different viewpoint that would shed light on the fall of imperial Russia. Watson wrote about internal problems in Japan’s society5 but failed to provide examples of how the Russian serfs, merchants, and other civilians felt about their government during time of war. It is known that the Russian ministers and Tsar concluded that a war would help bring the lower class back to their side, but there is no record in Watson’s writings about whether this was actually the case and if the imperialist elites achieved their social goals through this war. The narratives from each writer are quite simple. Each seems to be stuck in a different zeitgeist at the same time. Hoyt shares with the reader a war that was fought on the supremacy of a nation being catapulted years ahead and uses a third person narrative to push Japanese ideals of 3 Hugh Seton-Watson,“The Decline of Imperial Russia”, 202 4 Watson,Title 5 Watson,207
  4. 4. militarism. Watson on the other hand tells the reader about a failing nation, but doesn’t care to share its internal struggles and focuses on the external forces acting on this outdated chunk of land. The varying recitation of the same war is important because it reveals to the reader why each writer made the decision to write the same story in a different light. It reveals that historiography is just as much influenced by the historian as it is by history. Any account that each historian utilized could be used to fit the narrative that they had in mind or that they believed. In conclusion, neither writer decided to share the thoughts of the lower class leaving a gap in the reader’s understanding of the true sentiment on the Russo-Japanese War. Focusing on one level of society was a choice made by these historians to share the narrative that they most encountered in their studies of these nations and the feelings of these countries on certain events such as the Russo-Japanese War.

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