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4.Forgotten Wars

In the history of humans, conflicts between two or more countries have continued without any peace time. I searched for the three major wars in the last century, "Pacific War", "Korean War", "Vietnam War", and got results by each years from 1930 to 1950 by the New York Times (NYT) application program interface (API) with the three phrases.

Interestingly, each graph of the "hit" of each wars showed me different patterns, this represented how the wars were anticipated before each war broke out, and the effects after the break.(Fig.1) For example, the Korean War had not mentioned in the NYT until the actual war started. At the time the war happened, the number of commenting in the NYT was surprisingly increased. I connect this idea to a brief survey of books that have title of the war in the Seattle library data base. Then broke each book title into single words, and found out the most frequent used in the title. I would liked to show the title and changes of interests by the time. Such as, based on the time the book was published, arranged words by years, and find out how did the war described by the time line.This revealed that how the book writers described war, at the same time, the most important feature of the war. 

Fig.1  NYT API "Hit" data with "Pacific War" (Green), "Korean War" (Blue), "Vietnam War" (Red). 


I read about the history of the Pacific War from different resources such as books, DVDs, and websites. Compare to the "European theater", Pacific war was not known well to the public, but the famous movie series, such as one of HBO drama series "Band of Brothers" and "Pacific" introduced these forgotten stories, the wars were able to get attention from people.

I decided to narrow down my topic from the three to only the Pacific War because of enormous data. I used the keyword "Pacific War" in the NYT API from 1942 to 1945 by every month, then used the numbers for the diameter of ellipse, the center of round are located to the major campaigns in each month. Basically, the number from NYT API tells us how much attention the word got at that time. After this, I used the library check-out data of the Pacific War matched the title of the books to the each campaigns in the Pacific War on the map. (Fig.2)

For the basic map interface of the processing, I adopted "Unfolding Map" ( which was developed for the data visualization for the geographic matters. I used several tutorials form the website.

Fig. 2 Application NYT API data to the Unfolding Map in processing.


In the past, paper map used for the war data. (Fig. 3) I can see how people striven to show many details in a small map, but as you see in the picture, it is really hard to trace each campaigns. Thus, I convert this data to the processing.

Fig 3. "US landings" by General MacArthur's General Staff - MacArthur, Douglas (1994) [1950] Reports of General MacArthur, Vol. 1, Center of Military History, pp. p. 432 Retrieved on 24 February 2009..

Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - ... ndings.jpg



The Pacific War showed me the how fast the US Armed forces conquered many islands, some of them were ignored by the tactical reasons. Based on Wikipedia, I collected numbers of strength and casualties from the each campaign, then drew graphs. (Fig.4) As you can see the outside ellipse at the top left of the map stands for the entire army strength engaged that each actions, the small inside ellipse shows casualties including killed, lost and POW.

Fig. 4 Forgotten War Final data visualization.


During the Pacific War, the Imperial Japanese Army has 22 Area Armies, which were commanded by a lieutenant general. This is the same as one of six geographical commands in the US Army today. I placed each Area Armies onto the location of the Imperial Japanese Army's headquarters, this tells you that the Empire of Japan expended its territory during the war. Interestingly, at the end of the war, the Imperial Army organized new area armies in the mainland Japan to defend from US attack. 

The defect and drawback of the project was I could not apply the exact number of the area armies on the ellipse graph because the organization of the Imperial Japanese Army was so complicated. 

Future Research

The Unfolding map offers nice map interface, but I faced several problems in drawing lines and shapes on the map, because to draw line on the map, each points should coordinate their latitude and longitude not x,y points in the background. 
Furthermore, since the organizations were so complexes, it is almost impossible to get the active period of the area armies, if I could get more detailed data, I can map the strength of the armies on the map. This will clarify the change of the war by years.

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