The Japanese defeats at Midway and Guadalcanal decided the outcome of the Pacific War. Guadalcanal was the classic three-dimensional campaign. On land, at sea, and in the air, fierce battles were fought with both sides stretching their supplies and equipment to the breaking point. The campaign lasted six months, involved nearly one million men, and stopped Japanese expansion in the Pacific.
When the campaign began on August 7, 1942, no one on either side quite knew how to conduct it, as Eric Hammel shows in this masterly account. Guadalcanal: Starvation hand corrects numerous errors and omissions in the official records that have been perpetuated in all the books previously published about the campaign. Hammel also draws on the recollections of more than 100 participants on both sides, especially the enlisted men at the sharp end. Their words bring us into the heart of the battle and portray the fighting accurately, realistically, andvery powerfully.Guadalcanal: Starvation Island follows the men and the commanders of this decisive World War II campaign in an integrated, brilliantly told narrative of the desperate struggle at sea, on land, and in the air.
Praise for Guadalcanal: Starvation Island and Eric Hammel
“A comprehensive history of the Guadalcanal Campaign . . . [and] a well‑balanced account. Well written and fast moving.” —Marine Corps Gazette
“Hammel has written the most comprehensive popular account to date . . . and exposes controversial aspects often passed over,” —Publishers Weekly
“Hammel takes the reader behind the scenes and details how decisions were made . . . and how they impacted on the troops carrying them out. He tells the story in a very human way.” —Leatherneck Magazine
“A splendid record of this decisive campaign. Hammel offers a wealth of fresh material drawn from archival records and the recollections of 100‑odd surviving participants. . . . A praiseworthy contribution to Guadalcanal lore.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Hammel’s ability to reveal both the immediacy and the humanity of war without judgment or bias makes all his books both readable and scholarly. —San Francisco Chronicle“Hammel does not write dry history. His battle sequences are masterfully portrayed. —Library Journal
CORAL AND BLOOD
The U.S. Marine Corps’ Pacific Campaign
In only a lifetime, the long United States Marine Corps campaign across the Pacific Island has become the stuff of enduring legend. We are down to just a few Pacific Warriors who lived it and can still tell us about it from their own experiences. Now, in Coral and Blood, the critically acclaimed military historian Eric Hammel, who has specialized in writing about Marines in the Pacific, has compiled a brief but comprehensive history of the Marines’ island war. This book was conceived as a starting point for readers who have not yet read much about the Pacific War, but it is also designed to provide a simple yet complete overview for seasoned Pacific War enthusiasts who have not yet examined the island campaigns as an integrated whole. Perhaps by finding out about battles not yet examined, an experienced Pacific War enthusiast will find inspiration for moving on to new battles and looking for even broader understanding.
Following the general outline of his highly rated single-volume pictorial, Pacific Warriors, Hammel begins with the development of the U.S. Marine Corps’ unique amphibious doctrine, then moves briskly into the Pacific War by enumerating the Marine Corps presence on the eve of war. Thereafter, every significant action involving U.S. Marines during World War II—from Pearl Harbor and Wake Island to Okinawa—is examined, including the role of Marine Air in the Philippines. In many cases, longer and broader discussions are presented in this volume than in Pacific Warriors.
Experienced military history reader or not, you will almost certainly find something new and interesting in Coral and Blood. At the very least, you will find Coral and Blood, which weighs in at a respectable 96,000 words, to be valuable but not overbearing as a one-volume overview of the legendary efforts of Marines in the Pacific War.
ACES AGAINST JAPAN
The American Aces Speak
In this superb, originally conceived offering, noted military historian, Eric Hammel brings us first-person accounts from thirty-nine of the American fighter aces who blasted their way across the skies of the Pacific and East Asia from December 7, 1941, until the final air battles over Japan itself in August 1945.
Coupled with a clear view of America's far-flung air war against Japan, Hammel's detailed interviews bring out the most thrilling in-the-cockpit experiences of the air combat that the Pacific War’s best Army, Navy, and Marine pilots have chosen to tell.
Meet Frank Holmes, who defied death in an outmoded P-36 while still clad in a seersucker suit he had worn to mass earlier that morning. Fly with Scott McCuskey as, single-handed at Midway, he takes out two waves of Japanese dive-bombers that are attacking his precious aircraft carrier. Sweat out the last precious drops of fuel in a defective Marine Wildcat fighter as Medal of Honor recipient Jeff DeBlanc bores ahead to his target to keep the faith with the bomber crews he has been assigned to protect. Experience the ecstasy of total victory as Ralph Hanks becomes the Navy's first Hellcat ace-in-a-day when he destroys five Japanese fighters over the Gilbert Islands in a single mission.
A superb interviewer, Hammel has collected some of the very best air-combat tales from America's war with Japan. Combined with the four other volumes in The American Aces Speak series, this work will stand as an enduring testament to the brave men who fought the first and last air war in which high-performance, piston-engine fighters held sway. These are stories of bravery and survival, of men and machines pitted against one another in heart-stopping, unforgiving high-speed aerial combat. The American Aces Speak is a highly-charged emotional rendering of what men felt in the now-dim days of personal combat at the very edge of our living national history. There was never a war like it, and there never will be again. These are America's eagles, and the stories are their own, in their very own words.Critical Acclaim for The American Aces Speak Series
The Marine Corps Aviation Association Yellow Sheet says: “The recounting of each story is done in the pilot’s own words. This is a powerful technique that draws readers into the action and introduces them to the world of the fighter pilot”
The American Fighter Aces Bulletin says: “Some of [the] episodes are well-known; others have never been written before. But each account delivers something intensely personal about the Pacific Air War.”
The Library Journal says: “No PR hype or dry-as-dust prose here. Hammel allows his flyers to tell their stories in their own way . . . Exciting stuff aviation and World War II buffs will love.”
Book Page says: “For those who have an interest in World War II, or those who simply like to read of drama in the skies, Eric Hammel’s [Aces Against Japan] is recommended reading. It is a must for any historian’s bookshelf.”
WWII Aviation Booklist says: “Hammel provides a veritable feast of aviation combat narrative. As always in this series, the entries [in Aces at War] have been carefully selected to provide the most entertaining ride possible for his readers. Easily the best series available on air combat! Get them all!”
The Invasion of Guadalcanal & the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, August 1942
The Battle of the Eastern Solomons was history’s third carrier clash. A collision of U.S. Navy and Imperial Navy carriers in the wake of the invasion of Guadalcanal—whose airfield the United States desperately needed and the Japanese desperately wanted back—the battle was waged at sea and over Guadalcanal’s besieged Marine-held Lunga Perimeter on August 24, 1942.
Based upon the first half of Eric Hammel’s acclaimed 1987 battle narrative, Guadalcanal: The Carrier Battles, and in large part upon important new information obtained from both Japanese and American sources, Carrier Clash unravels many of the mysteries and misconceptions that have veiled this complex battle for more than a half century.
Beginning with detailed descriptions of the history of the aircraft carrier, the development of carrier-air tactics, the training of carrier pilots, and numerous operational considerations that defined the way carrier battles had to be fought, Carrier Clash takes the reader into the air with brave U.S. Navy fighter pilots as they protect their ships and the Guadalcanal invasion fleet against determined Japanese air attacks on August 7 and 8, 1942. After he sets the stage for the August 24 Battle of the Eastern Solomons, author Hammel puts the reader right into the cockpits of U.S. Navy Dauntless dive-bombers as they dive on the Imperial Navy light carrier Ryujo—and hit the ship with 500-pound bombs! Once again, in this strange tit-for-tat battle, U.S. Navy Wildcat fighter pilots must defend their ships against an onslaught by Imperial Navy Val dive-bomber pilots determined to sink the U.S. carriers, or die trying. Hammel’s coverage of the bomb damage to the USS Enterprise and subsequent fire-fighting and rescue efforts by her crew are especially compelling.
Carrier Clash is the definitive combat history of the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, history’s third battle (of only five) between American and Japanese aircraft carriers.
Critical Acclaim for Eric Hammel’s earlier books about the Guadalcanal Campaign:
Seapower Magazine says: “Acclaimed military historian Eric Hammel presents a landmark history of the Battle of the Eastern Solomons.”
Kirkus Reviews says: “Hammel is as adept at conveying the terrors of fighting fire on a ship . . . as he is at providing concise evaluations of top commanders. “Official histories apart, [Guadalcanal: The Carrier Battles is] the most thorough appreciation yet of Guadalcanal’s turning-point carrier battles; praiseworthy.”
Lansing State Journal says: “For the military buff, [Guadalcanal: Starvation Island] is an excellent resource. For the casual reader, it is a well-written account of one of the most crucial times in the history of the United States.”
ALA Booklist says: [Eric Hammel] “effectively utilizes the accounts of the battle participants to provide a vivid dimension to the fighting . . . ”
Library Journal says: “Hammel does not write dry history. His battle sequences are masterfully portrayed.”
Canadian Military History says: Hammel’s descriptions of engagements on land, air and sea are fast-paced and engagingly written, and he has a knack for weaving together character and circumstance into a very readable story.”
Book World says: [Guadalcanal: Starvation Island] is stark, naked, and brutal. . . . It is an excellent, toughly drawn account of the awesomeness of war and is worthy many times over of being in any library worthy of the name.”
THE ROAD TO BIG WEEK
The Struggle for Daylight Air Supremacy Over Western Europe, July 1942 – February 1944
The Road to Big Week begins with a thorough examination of American development of a strategic bombing doctrine from its earliest conception in the years after World War I. Balancing the demands of the ground army’s desire and need for air support and the visionary outlook of such early Air Corps leaders as General Billy Mitchell with the cash-strapped circumstances of the Great Depression and the limitations imposed by the Congressional peace lobbies, the Air Corps was able to deliver a fully formed doctrine that could not at first be supported by adequate aircraft nor even a public acknowledgenent that the drive to perfect strategic bombing was even on. Before the doctrine or a fully functional heavy strategic bomber were quite perfected, the United States was drawn into World War II. Facing numerous obstacles unperceived during peacetime, not the least being simple bad weather, the early American efforts to mount a strategic bombing campaign in northern Europe nearly failed in the face of unsustainable casualties and ineffective strategic direction. Only the belated modernization of escort-fighter policy saved the strategic bombing force from failure and, indeed, formed the foundation upon which the strategic bombing campaign ultimately reached maturity and achieved success.
In this exciting and complete accounting of the transition from idea to near failure to ultimate success, distinguished military historian Eric Hammel sets out all the dots, then connects them in a conversational style approachable by all readers.What the Experts Are Saying About THE ROAD TO BIG WEEK . . .
Eric Hammel convincingly demonstrates that the road to "Big Week" in February 1944 occupied more than twenty years. With a passion for objectivity and an eye for telling detail, he describes the U.S. Army Air Forces' evolution of the self-defending bomber as well as Nazi Germany's efforts to preserve and patch "the roof" over the Third Reich. Though the European war lasted another fifteen months, Hammel shows that by the end of Big Week there was no reversing the traffic on that sanguinary path. ——Barrett Tillman, author of Clash of the Carriers
Eric Hammel has done it again, with a lucid portrayal of the growth of American bomber theory from the 1918 Armistice to the crucial days over Germany when the Eighth Air Force broke the Luftwaffe’s back. Some books have told what happened during Big Week—Hammel tells you why, driving home points that are as vital today as they were in 1944. ——Col. Walter J. Boyne, National Aviation Hall of Fame Honoree
In The Road to Big Week, Eric Hammel cleverly connects a widely disparate collection of dots that are the development of America as the world's preeminent air power. These connections describe how the U.S. Army Air Forces—just barely in time—evolved in size and capability such that America's airmen prevailed in the iconic air battle that ultimately ensured the defeat of Nazi Germany. Hammel's meticulous research and eminently readable style make this definitive work a compelling read. ——Lt.Col. Jay A. Stout, author of Fortress Ploesti
Eric Hammel has a special gift for combining musty war records and intimate personal accounts into a gripping history . . . If you think there's nothing new to learn about World War II, if you think there was never a possibility the Allies might lose, if you think one side was smarter than the other, The Road to Big Week will unnerve you and change forever your perception of what happened in those high, embattled skies. ——Robert F. Dorr, co-author of Hell Hawks!