Cover image for Warning of war : a novel of the North China Marines
Warning of war : a novel of the North China Marines
Brady, James, 1928-2009.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Thomas Dunne Books, 2002.
Physical Description:
341 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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Late November of 1941.
Half the world is at war and with the other half about to join in, a thousand U.S. Marines stand sentinel over the last days of an uneasy truce between ourselves and the Imperial Japanese Army in chaotic North China.
By November 27, FDR is convinced Japan is about to launch a military action. Washington doesn't know where, isn't sure precisely when. But the Cabinet is sufficiently alarmed that War Secretary Henry Stimson and Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox are authorized to send an immediate and coded "warning of war" to American bases and units in harm's way.
In Shanghai two cruise ships are chartered and 800 armed American Marines of the Fourth Regiment (serving in China since the Boxer Rebellion) are marched through the great port city with enormous pomp and circumstance and embarked for Manila.
Another 200 Marines, unable to reach Shanghai, and serving in small garrisons and posts from Peking to Mongolia and the Gobi Desert, are caught short by this "warning of war."
This is their story. Of how a detachment of American Marines marooned in North China as war erupts, set out on an epic march through hostile territory in an attempt to fight their way out of China and, somehow, rejoin their Corps for the war against Japan.
James Brady dazzles us once again with a stunning and unflinching look at America at war. " Warning of War" is a moving tribute to sheer courage, determination, and Marine Corps discipline, and is a wonderful celebration of America in one of its darkest but finest hours.

Author Notes

Journalist and author James Brady was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 15, 1928. He graduated from Manhattan College in 1950. During the Korean War, he served in the Marine Corps and was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat V for a firefight against the Chinese army on May 31, 1952 in November 2001.

He held numerous jobs in journalism including the publisher of Women's Wear Daily from 1964 to 1971 and writer of the celebrity profile column In Step With for Parade magazine for almost 25 years. He also wrote numerous fiction and nonfiction works including The Coldest War (1990), Further Lane (1997), The Marines of Autumn (2000), The Scariest Place in the World: A Marine Returns to North Korea (2005), and Why Marines Fight (2007). He died on January 26, 2009 at the age of 80.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Brady, a decorated Marine veteran of the Korean War, has written another exciting novel focusing on his beloved corps. On the eve of Pearl Harbor, a thousand U.S. Marines maintain a shaky truce in an isolated region of northern China. After Pearl Harbor, the Marines are cut off and at the mercy of advancing Japanese forces, led by a fanatical officer. Thus begins a riveting rescue story as an equally relentless Marine captain strives to save his comrades. This thriller has a little bit of everything, including exotic settings, murderous warlords, enigmatic villains, and a breakneck narrative that bounds smoothly and credibly from one exploit to another. Readers who like adventure combined with a realistic portrayal of men in war will find great enjoyment here. --Jay Freeman

Publisher's Weekly Review

A Marine veteran of the Korean conflict, Brady (The Marines of Autumn) has stormed publishing high ground to become, arguably, our foremost novelist currently writing on the subject of Marines at war. Here, the distinguished columnist and author brings under close scrutiny the sorry disarray of the U.S. military during the two months (beginning November 27, 1941, and ending Jan. 27, 1942) just before and after the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor. Playing tennis by day with his friend, an American-born Japanese colonel, and by night enjoying posh clubs with his White Russian mistress, Marine Capt. Billy Port, a Back Bay Bostonian, sees his pampered life among the cosmopolitan set in exotic, Japanese-occupied Shanghai come to an abrupt halt on November 27, 1941, when FDR orders the complete evacuation of all Marines stationed in China under an official "warning of war." A decorated veteran of the 1920s Nicaraguan campaign, Port is given the task of taking a rifle squad of combat-seasoned Marines and rounding up a scattering of isolated detachments and leading them over the Great Wall and across the Gobi into icy Siberia. Taking his personal majordomo, a naval lieutenant, a French former Grand Prix race driver, and an exiled White Russian general, he loads four military trucks and his own Bentley touring car aboard a rusty Portuguese ship and sails north to rescue the isolated Marines, unaware that his Japanese tennis partner will become his relentless pursuer. Authentic atmospherics and crackling action are sure to keep fans turning the pages of this newest Brady combat thriller, which succeeds equally as entertainment, history and morality lesson. (Apr. 10) Forecast: The Marines of August was a New York Times bestseller, and Brady's latest looks likely to follow in its footsteps. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In November 1941, U.S. marines were stationed in North China and fighting the Japanese well before the attack on Pearl Harbor. This novel tells the story of the days just before and shortly after the "official" fighting began. Capt. William Port, 4th Marines, is stationed in Shanghai, a city wracked by poverty, corruption, and intrigue, as the Japanese army looms on the horizon. Wealthy and educated, he is comfortable with his White Russian girlfriend, Natasha. While some members of his regiment are ordered to the Philippines and to the subsequent horrors of Bataan and Corregidor, Port is left behind with a small group of marines whose task is to rescue American missionaries trapped in the far reaches of the Gobi Desert. Port's trek through the desert constitutes the heart of this story of adventure, conflict, heroism, and tragedy. A former marine and magazine publisher, Brady (Marines of Autumn, The Coldest War) offers a fascinating tale of a virtually forgotten time and place. For all general collections. Robert Conroy, Warren, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.