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PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:24 pm 
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I love history and really enjoy reading about the battles in the Pacific Theater in WWII. I have read quite a few and am always on the lookout for others that are good. I couldn't find a thread just for this topic so I thought I would start one. I will post the ones that I have read and what I thought of them. Please feel free to post books that you have enjoyed as well. I will start off with probably the first book on WWII that I read many years ago in school.
"Day of Infamy" by Walter Lord.

I am currently reading "A Glorious Way to Die: The Kamikaze Mission of the Battleship Yamato" by Russell Spurr. I have read this one before and it is a very good read covering a lot of good information on Operation Ten-ichi.

I will post more as I have some time. Please post your favorites or ones that you feel are good reads. Looking forward to hearing your recommendations. Mike.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:53 pm 
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"The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors" by James Hornfischer. Excellent book on the battle of Samar between US destroyers and the battleships of the Japanese Navy. Bought my copy used and it fell apart, so I sort had a series of mini-books

"The Heart of Hell" by Mitch Weiss. The story of my current project LCI(G)-449 and her sister ships. These were landing craft infantry that were converted to gunboats to support the other landing craft as they hit the beach as well as to provide cover for the UDT teams in advance of the invasions.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 10:49 pm 
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I actually just finished " The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors" about a week ago. I agree that it was a very good book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will have to look for "The Heart of Hell" when I have a chance.

A couple other books I have read over the years that were good:
"Savo" by Richard Newcomb. A good read about the battle of the 5 sitting ducks at the beginning of the Guadalcanal Campaign.
"Trapped at Pearl Harbor: Escape from the Battleship Oklahoma" by Stephen Bower Young. A very interesting book from a sailor who was trapped inside the Oklahoma when she capsized.
"Take Her Deep: A Submarine Against Japan in World War II" by Admiral I.J. Galantin. Interesting book from a former submarine officer.
"The Battle Off Midway Island" by Theodore Taylor. A very brief overview of the Battle of Midway.

All were good books to read. I read both "Savo" and "The Battle Off Midway Island" the first time many years ago in school.
These along with "Day of Infamy" are the books that got me hooked on WWII in the Pacific.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:54 pm 
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If you like American destroyers, I recommend this book:
Blood On The Sea: American Destroyers Lost In World War II by Robert Sinclair Parkin.
This book details the loss of each US destroyer during WWII. There are good pictures of many of the ships and some good looks at different versions of some of the camo patterns used. There is also a class listing with a lot of detail in the back of the book. I have read it several times and always enjoyed it.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:52 pm 
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I just started reading "American Amphibious Gunboats in World War II: A History of LCI and LCS(L) Ships in the Pacific" by Robin L Reilly. I stumbled across the title while looking for a book on gunboats and ordered it thru intra-library loan. It looks to be a comprehensive look at these ships in the Pacific and the first two chapters have been interesting


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:13 pm 
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Another interesting read is "The Lonely Ships: The life and death of the US Asiatic fleet" by Edwin P. Hoyt. Good book about some of the early battles in WWII that you don't hear about as often as some of the larger battles later in the way.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:37 am 
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Here are some that I've read, and enjoyed:

Miracle at Midway - Gordon Prange
At Dawn We Slept - Gordon Prange
Shattered Sword - Parshall and Tully
Battleship Musashi - Akira Yoshimura
Clash of the Carriers - Barrett Tillman
Tin Can Sailor - Raymond Calhoun
South Pacific Destroyer - Russell Crenshaw
Undefeated - Bill Sloan
The Twilight Riders: The Last Charge of the 26th Cavalry - Peter Stevens
Helmet for my Pillow - Robert Leckie
Neptune's Inferno - Hornfischer
Ship of Ghosts - Hornfischer
The Battle of Cape Esperance - Charles Cook
Black Shoe Carrier Admiral - John Lundstrom
Doomed From the Start - William Bartsch
Singapore, The Battle Which Changed the World - James Leasor
Intrepid Aviators - Gregory Fletcher

A couple others that I read and which fall into the "Good, not great" category are:
Pacific Crucible and The Conquering Tide by Ian Toll
Rising Sun, Falling Skies by Jeff Cox
The First South Pacific Campaign - John Lundstrom
Carrier Strike (Battle of Santa Cruz) - Eric Hammel
Carrier Clash (Eastern Solomons) - Eric Hammel

Hammel has written numerous other books. I liked his book on the naval battles: Guadalcanal, Decision at Sea. I see he also has a book on Savo Island and Kula Gulf.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:50 pm 
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Shattered Sword, which is on Martin's list, is fascinating. It is an account of the battle of Midway looking mostly at the Japanese planning and why they were defeated. The description of the battle and the state of the carriers after they were hit is excellent.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 6:51 pm 
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I meant to mention, but neglected to, that of the books mentioned above, these three, about the 1941-42 Philippine Campaign, really fascinated me:

Undefeated - Bill Sloan
The Twilight Riders: The Last Charge of the 26th Cavalry - Peter Stevens
Doomed From the Start - William Bartsch

Reading "Undefeated" led me to "Twilight Riders". After reading "Twilight Riders", I then read "Lt Ramsey's War", about the guerilla campaign in Luzon between 1942 and 1945 (Ramsey was an officer in the 26th, and led the last cavalry charge in US Army history before joining the resistance). Some of Ramsey's story as a guerilla is questioned for it's veracity, but the Filipinos hold him in very high regard.

"Doomed from the Start" is about the Pursuit Groups and pilots in '41 and '42, something I knew very little about. A courageous story and an excellent read.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 12:38 pm 
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I just finished up "PT 109: An American Epic of War, Survival, and the Destiny of John F. Kennedy"
A very interesting read. You don't realize how much these guys actually went through until you read the details from the survivors. A good book that has a lot of detail about the loss, survival, and rescue of the PT 109 crew and quite a bit of interesting information about JFK as well.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 1:13 pm 
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Neptune's Inferno, on Martin's list, is incredible. The amount of damage those cruisers and destroyers absorbed is unbelievable and should serve as a lesson to us, today, about warship design.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:14 pm 
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"Japanese Destroyer Captain" by Tamechi Hara. Required reading. The best account from the Japanese on surface warfare in the Pacific. Unknowingly fought against Russell Crenshaw on several occasions in the Solomons.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:49 pm 
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I ordered a copy of Neptune's Inferno and it arrived today. Very eager to dig into this one!

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:50 pm 
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I just finished Neptune's Inferno and have to agree with you all that it was an absolutely outstanding book. A must read!

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:17 pm 
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Just finished Loxton's "The Shame of Savo". It dates from around 1994. Overall, I liked it. Didn't like how he excoriated Admiral Fletcher, especially since, if I recall correctly, much of what he said Lundstrom debunked in "Black Shoe Carrier Admiral". Still, an interesting read, and recommended.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:14 pm 
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If you like submarines, here is a good one I just finished.
"Silent Running: My Years on a World War II Attack Submarine" by retired VADM James F. Calvert. An interesting read covering his patrols during the war.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:55 am 
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I just finished Afternoon of the Rising Sun by Kenneth I. Friedman (not Norman Friedman!), Presidio Press, 2001, 414 pages (hard bound). Friedman was a retired IBM executive.

It is about the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The text on the inside of the dust cover should have been a warning - he claimed Halsey had six Iowa class battleships! Of course the US only completed four Iowas, as every student of the US Navy in WWII knows.

He goes on to tell us the Brooklyn class light cruisers fired fifteen 8" guns (they were 6" guns), Fletcher class destroyers could do 40 knots (maybe 40 mph), and so on. He says five of the six carriers in Taffey 3 "escaped unharmed," but two of the surviving carriers had significant damage from Japanese gunfire. A 15,000 ton CVL was a "big carrier". There are lots of obvious errors that showed he really didn't know what he was talking about.

He contradicts himself frequently. In one place he says the Japanese "had a rich store of carriers" for the Northern Force, and on the next page tells how the Japanese carrier force had been reduced to one CV and three CVLs, including one that was considered "too small to send into battle." A submarine fired torpedoes at a ship's port side and hit it on the starboard side! On one page he claimed Shima's 5th fleet "came up from the south (Brunei) to join the Southern Force, even though the chart he used (copied from another book) showed them coming down from the north (Formosa). Yet in another part of the book he details Shima's route south from the Inland Sea to the Pescadores (Formosa) and then to Surigao Strait.

He repeats the same stories over, and over, and over, and over, and over, .... About half way through the book I started making notes in the margins and I counted 44 times he repeated what he had written earlier! If the repeated text was removed the book would be a lot thinner. It looks like he had a bunch of notes on multiple topics that he copied from many sources and just crammed them all together and called it a book without any editing, corrections or attempts to make a coherent or chronological story. He writes about an event and randomly tosses in unrelated sentences about other topics out of chronological order, and many pages later comes back to the previous topic and retells the same story again. He describes the sinking of one Japanese cruiser at least three times and an American destroyer sank twice! It is the worst writing and editing I have ever seen in a book. How it got published I don't know!

Worse still, he claims to know the innermost thoughts and detailed actions of major and minor characters (he breathed a sigh of relief, he was thinking about ..., etc.). He tells us Halsey's thoughts at one point and then says "We will never know what actually went through Halsey's mind ..." After two pages of detailed descriptions of Kurita's thoughts, feelings and fears during the Battle off Samar he then concluded with "mystery surrounds" what Kurita was thinking! Except Friedman knows, of course! I counted about 30 instances of sheer speculation in the last half of the book! If you read it be sure to wear hip boots because the BS is knee deep throughout the book! There is far more fiction than fact.

On a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 the best, I would rate it as a 1. Why not a zero, since it is so bad? He attended a Tin Can Sailors convention and interviewed a number of survivors of the battle. Most of their stories are brief and add little to the history, but they do tell something about the individual's experiences, thoughts and fears during these crucial battles. Unfortunately, they are a tiny part of the text and are buried in redundant, disordered speculation, exaggeration and hyperbole.

Phil

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Last edited by DrPR on Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:26 am, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:14 am 
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I recommend reading The Battle for Leyte Gulf by C. Vann Woodward, Skyhorse Publishing, 2013, 222 pages. Woodward is Associate Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University, and served as an Intelligence Officer in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations during WWII under Samuel Eliot Morrison. Woodward had first hand access to intelligence reports, interrogation records from Japanese officers, ship's logs and action reports.

This book is a very good account of the battle of Leyte Gulf. It is factual, well organized and concise. It is an easy read.

On a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 the best, I would give it a 9. The only shortcoming I found was in the maps/charts. My copy of the book was a paperback, and the charts looked like very poor photocopies of much larger images. They were illegible, so if you read the book I suggest getting another reference (Morrison perhaps) that has good maps and charts.

Phil

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Last edited by DrPR on Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:41 am 
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The Campaigns of the Pacific War, United States Strategic Bombing Survey (Pacific), Naval Analysis Division, US Government Printing Office, 1946, 395 pages.

This book is a unique compilation of large detailed fold-out Japanese charts, translated Japanese plans and messages, and Japanese battle damage reports captured during and after WWII. It includes a brief but detailed analysis of Japanese strategy in the naval battles of the Pacific based upon interviews with the top surviving Japanese Naval officers. The charts alone are reason to find a copy of this book!

The book does not "tell a story." It is invaluable reference material, especially when reading some of the biased, gung-ho, our-side-is better-than-their-side "historical" accounts of the Pacific War. Some of these later day "historians," writing half a century or more after the war, relate "facts" that are quite different from what the Japanese officers at the scene recorded.

Phil

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Last edited by DrPR on Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:17 am 
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Night Work, Fletcher Pratt, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1946, 267 pages.

As a former cruiser sailor I like stories about cruisers, especially the Cleveland class, but I haven't found much written about them. Night Work is the story of the USS Cleveland CL-55, USS Columbia CL-56, USS Montpelier CL-57 and USS Denver CL-58. These four brand new Cleveland class light cruisers entered the war in the Solomons shortly after the disastrous battles in Iron Bottom Sound, as Task Force 39 commanded by Rear Admiral A. S. Merrill.

The book tells about the long series of battles around Guadalcanal and up the Solomons chain. It is a good read!

I give it a 10 out of 10, but I am a bit biased about the Clevelands!

****

Pacific War Diary, James J. Fahey, Kensington Publishing Corp., New York, 1963, 404 pages.

Fahey served on the USS Montpelier CL-57 from 1942 to 1945. This is his diary, and it tells the story of endless hours of boredom punctuated by minutes of terror. It is a seaman's story of what it was like to live on a cruiser during the war. Not much theory and strategy, but a very good background read to supplement drier historical narratives.

7 out of 10.

Phil

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