Episode Information

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Victory in the Pacific

In this episode:

The final year of World War II in the Pacific


American Experience

Victory in the Pacific

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In this provocative, thorough examination of the final months of the war, American Experience looks at the escalation of bloodletting from the vantage points of both the Japanese and the Americans. As the film shows, most of the Emperor's inner circle was determined to continue the war even after losses in the Philippines in February 1945 cut off Japan's supply lines. And though he was warned that his country, brought to its knees by the conflict, might erupt in a Communist revolution, Emperor Hirohito believed that one last decisive battle could reverse Japan's fortunes.

The Americans, for their part, were startled by the intensity and determination of the Japanese defenders in the South Pacific. "Do the suicides of Saipan mean the whole Japanese race will choose death before surrender?" wrote a reporter in Time. From the U.S. capture of the Mariana Islands through the firebombing of Tokyo and the dropping of the atomic bomb, Victory in the Pacific chronicles the dreadful and unprecedented loss of life and the decisions made by leaders on both sides that finally ended the war.

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