On the first Sunday in December 1941, an armada of Japanese warplanes appeared suddenly over Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and devastated the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Six months later, in a sea fight north of the tiny atoll of Midway, four Japanese aircraft carriers were sent into the abyss, a blow that destroyed the offensive power of their fleet. Pacific Crucible—through a dramatic narrative relying predominantly on primary sources and eyewitness accounts of heroism and sacrifice from both navies—tells the epic tale of these first searing months of the Pacific war, when the U.S. Navy shook off the worst defeat in American military history to seize the strategic initiative.
This masterful history encompasses the heart of the Pacific War—the period between mid-1942 and mid-1944—when parallel Allied counteroffensives north and south of the equator washed over Japan's far-flung island empire like a "conquering tide," concluding with Japan's irreversible strategic defeat in the Marianas. It was the largest, bloodiest, most costly, most technically innovative and logistically complicated amphibious war in history, and it fostered bitter interservice rivalries, leaving wounds that even victory could not heal.
Often overlooked, these are the years and fights that decided the Pacific War. Ian W. Toll's battle scenes—in the air, at sea, and in the jungles—are simply riveting. He also takes the reader into the wartime councils in Washington and Tokyo where politics and strategy often collided, and into the struggle to mobilize wartime production, which was the secret of Allied victory. Brilliantly researched, the narrative is propelled and colored by firsthand accounts—letters, diaries, debriefings, and memoirs—that are the raw material of the telling details, shrewd judgment, and penetrating insight of this magisterial history.
This volume—continuing the "marvelously readable dramatic narrative" (San Francisco Chronicle) of Pacific Crucible—marks the second installment of the Pacific War Trilogy, which will stand as the first history of the entire Pacific War to be published in at least twenty-five years.
Presenting previously unpublished photographs, interviews with veterans, newly commissioned maps and new translations of Japanese sources, this book freshly examines the key events in the fight for the Pacific.
Detailing the background to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor it shows how the decision-makers in Washington, following consultation with the leaders of Britain, Australia and New Zealand, moved to stop Japan from its drive toward Australia by initiating a counterthrust in the Solomon Islands.
It also shows how qualities and character of leadership are crucial to winning wars, detailing how Admiral Ernest J. King managed to commit the Marine Corps to ground action in the South Pacific six months earlier than originally planned, by ignoring the Roosevelt’s commitment to defeat Germany prior to fighting Japan, and by outmaneuvering Gen. Douglas MacArthur for leadership. It also explains how Marines under Maj. Gen. A.A. Vandegrift, despite inadequate logistical support, managed to prevail in the Americans’ first ground campaign of World War II, making Japan’s ultimate defeat inevitable.
In addition to recounting these key events, it traces how censorship and patriotism influenced the reporting of the conflict in America, how Hollywood films further shaped public opinion by portraying the significant events in particular ways, and how certain crucial decisions such as the early bombing raid of Tokyo, and giving Douglas MacArthur command of the war effort in Australia, were "political" rather than "strategic," and were made to foster morale rather than to gain any military advantage.
This book will be of great interest to all students and scholars of Military History, and to all readers with a general interest in World War II, particularly in the conflicts of the Pacific, Pearl Harbor and Guadalcanal.