Mark R. Peattie, renowned expert on Japanese wartime history, dies

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Mark Peattie, Ph.D., noted scholar of Japanese Imperial history, died peacefully, surrounded by family on January 22, 2014 in San Rafael, California; he was 83. 

Peattie was born in Nice, France, to expatriate writers Donald Culross and Louise Redfield Peattie on May 3, 1930. He returned to the United States with his parents and his two brothers, Malcom R. Peattie and Noel R. Peattie. He grew up in Santa Barbara, where he graduated from Laguna Blanca School. He went on to get a B.A. in history at Pomona College. He served in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1954, including an assignment in counter-intelligence in Europe.

In 1955, after completing his M.A. in history at Stanford University, Peattie began his career as an American cultural diplomat with the U.S. Information Agency. He began his stint in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where he served for two years. His nine years in Japan started in Sendai; in Tokyo he trained intensively in Japanese language before serving as director of the American Cultural Center in Kyoto.

In 1967, after serving a final year in diplomacy in Washington, D.C., his love of history called him to the world of academia. After earning his Ph.D. in modern Japanese history from Princeton University, he taught at Pennsylvania State University, the University of California – Los Angeles and the University of Massachusetts in Boston. For many years, Peattie was a research fellow at the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University. He was also a senior research staff member of the Hoover Institute on War, Revolution, and Peace, before becoming a visiting scholar at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University.

His publications include The Battle for China: Essays on the Military History of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937–1945, Stanford University Press; Sunburst: The Rise of Japanese Naval Air Power, 1909 –1941, Naval Institute Press; Nan'yō: The Rise and Fall of the Japanese in Micronesia, 1885–1945, University of Hawaii Press; Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887–1941 (with David C. Evans), U.S. Naval Institute Press; The Japanese Wartime Empire, 1931–1945 (with Peter Duus and Ramon H. Myers), Princeton University Press;The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1895-1945, Princeton University Press; and Ishiwara Kanji and Japan's Confrontation with the West, Princeton University Press.                                                                 

Peattie was married to the late Alice Richmond Peattie for 52 years and is survived by his daughters Victoria Peattie Helm of Mercer Island, Washington; Caroline Peattie of Mill Valley, California; son David Peattie of Berkeley, California; nieces Dana VanderMey and Hilary Peattie, both of Santa Barbara; and grandchildren, Brendan Shuichi, Marcus Takeshi, Kylie Max, Kai Schorske, and Jessica Susan.

Mark Peattie passionately believed in sensible handgun control laws to reduce deaths and injuries.  In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be directed to

Services will be held at a later date. Please sign the online guestbook to see updated service information at