Saturday, June 18, 2016

Private Shimura and the course of history

One of the hardest jobs in publishing is building an index, which is rivaled only by the chore of proof-reading it. The book in question is Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941-1942, which will soon be out in its third edition. I find that the index has a typo in the personal name of Shimura Kikujiro, sigh. I will certainly have to fix that, because:

Shirmura was the private in the Japanese Imperial Army who, while stationed near the Marco Polo Bridge outside Beijing in September 1937, went off to take a pee. Somebody noticed he was missing and demanded an explanation from the Chinese troops stationed nearby. This became a gun battle, which became the second Sino-Japanese War, which caused the United States to apply economic pressure on Japan, which convinced Japan that it needed to invade  and occupy Southeast Asia, which made it imperative to put the US Navy out of action, which led to the Pearl Harbor attack, which led to the US declaration of war against Japan, which led to the German declaration of war against the United States, which led to ...

Well, among other things, it led to the Battle for Burma, where among the hundred thousand or so Japanese who died was Shimura Kikujiro.

The moral of that story is, if you want to go off to pee, be sure to tell somebody where you're going. Otherwise, you never know what might happen.

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