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!
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
ACES AT WAR
The American Aces Speak
Adding to the first three volumes of his acclaimed series, The American Aces Speak, leading combat historian Eric Hammel comes through with yet another engrossing collection of thirty-eight first-person accounts by American fighter aces serving in World War II, the Israeli War of Independence, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War
As are the three earlier volumes, Aces At War is a highly charged excursion into life and death in the air, told by men who excelled at piston-engine and jet-engine aerial combat and lived to tell about it. It is an emotional rendering of what brave airmen felt and how they fought in the now-dim days of America’s living national history.
Ride with Flying Tigers ace Charlie Bond as he is shot down in flames over the Chinese city he alone has been able to defend against Japanese bombers. Share the loneliness of command as Lieutenant Commander Tom Blackburn decides the fate of the fellow Navy pilot whose F4U Corsair malfunctions in a desperate battle over Rabaul. Feel 2d Lieutenant Deacon Priest’s overwhelming sense of duty to a friend as he lands his P-51 Mustang behind German lines to rescue his downed squadron commander. Share Lieutenant Colonel Ed Heller’s desperation as he fights his way out of his uncontrollable F-86 Sabre jet over the wrong side of the Yalu River. And join Major Jim Kasler as he leads what might be the most important air strike of the Vietnam War.
These are America’s eagles, and the stories they tell are their own, in their very own words.
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.”
AIR WAR PACIFIC: Chronology
America’s Air War Against Japan in East Asia and the Pacific
1941 – 1945
THE GREAT AMERICAN AERIAL CRUSADE OF WORLD WAR II: There was never a military campaign like it, and there never will be another. Here is an opportunity to follow the great crusade as it unfolded in the air over the Japan’s ill-gotten empire in East Asia and the Pacific. This exhaustive chronology sheds a fascinating light on the course of America’s air war against Japan in all the active theaters.
* The Air War Pacific Chronology is a day-by-day accounting of all the major combat aviation missions undertaken by United States Army Air Forces, United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, and American Volunteer Group units and commands in China, Burma, India, and throughout the Pacific during World War II.
* All Army Air Forces, Navy, Marine, and Flying Tiger theater fighter aces are covered including unit affiliation, date and time ace status was attained, and date and time of highest victory tally (over ten).
* Information pertaining to the arrival, activation, transfer, departure, and decommissioning of air commands, combat units, and special units. Comings and goings of the commanders of major aviation units are also covered.
* Provides a rich contextual framework pertaining to related ground campaigns; international and high-command conferences and decisions influencing air strategies and campaigns; and breakthroughs in the development of special techniques and equipment.
* Includes a bibliography, guide to abbreviations, maps, and two indexes.
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.
A Novel of U.S. Marines On Guadalcanal
Just out of high school, Al Rosen, a seventeen-year-old Philadelphian, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in order to sidestep the pitfalls of recent orphanhood. By August 1942, after four years in uniform, Corporal Rosen was leading a light machine gun squad when fate chose him to become the first American servicemen to fire shots in the Guadalcanal Campaign, America’s first offensive in World War II. Then, for six terrible months of alternating hot combat action and stretches of restive inactivity, Rosen and his fellow Marines in Company B confronted—and learned how to overcome—fear and terror and sorrow and a host of life’s other harshest tests and their many lessons. They learned to stand tall, to serve proudly, to resist fiercely, and to attack mercilessly. Some, like Rosen, by dint of aptitude and courage, advanced in rank and status. Others fell by the wayside to strange and terrible tropical diseases, to the mind-numbing heat and humidity, to bone weariness, to malnourishment, to chance, to their own human failings.
Til the Last Bugle Call is a fictional yet deadly accurate portrait of American fighting men, of U.S. Marines, from the earliest days of their Pacific War confrontation with Japan’s victorious legions, in a battle and a war none of them really knew how to fight. Eric Hammel, author of fifty non-fiction military history books, five of them covering all facets of the Guadalcanal Campaign, precisely captures the innocence of these young men at the cutting edge of the early Pacific War, then follows them as they overcome immense obstacles on their way to becoming confident combat veterans ready to take on new challenges farther along the bloody road to victory.
The Decline and Rebirth of the American Military
November 12, 1918 to December 6, 1941
Because the United States military undertook its first World War II offensive operations in the Pacific within only eight months of Pearl Harbor, most historians and readers of the war’s history depict and perceive the quick transition in 1942 from defensive war to offensive war as a miracle.
In the miraculous narrative Americans have written for themselves, the peace-loving and ill-prepared sleeping giant, the United States, is suddenly struck by enemies who use her peace-loving ways against her, while a mere sprinkling of gallant, dedicated soldiers, sailors, and airmen fight overwhelming odds to barely hold the line against an unremitting backdrop of tearful defeats. Meanwhile, U.S. industry suddenly—instantly—becomes a magical “Arsenal of Democracy” that produces uncountable tanks and ships and guns, not to mention trained soldiers, sailors, and airmen in their legions, fleets, and air armadas that will smash the wiliest and most powerful enemies ever before confronted. The appearance of all that materiel, and all those battle-ready young men so soon after the Pearl Harbor attack, looks exactly like a miracle.
There was no miracle.
Celebrated military historian Eric Hammel’s cool appraisal of the facts reveals that America's stunning and overwhelming moral response to German and Japanese aggression in the mid- and late 1930s, a response that eventually brought a huge portion of the globe within its embrace, was far less a miracle than an inexorable force of nature. America was a sleeping giant. But the decision to turn the entire force and will of a hard-working, innovative nation to arming for war was not made in the wake of Pearl Harbor. By Pearl Harbor, an alliance of the American government, American industry, and the American military community was already close to complete preparedness. The real story of America’s preparations for World War II had begun in mid-November 1938.
The Forge was previously published as How America Saved the World.
Meanwhile the Syrian army, the greatest achievement of the modern Syrian state, is massed on the Golan Heights. Together with newly arrived Soviet‑made equipment, 1,200 main battle tanks, 1,000 armored personnel carriers, 1,000 artillery pieces, and more than 100 mobile antiaircraft missile carriers are ready to strike in a lightning‑swift offensive that will drive to the sea and cut Israel in two.
Duel for the Golan, the first book to be written on this aspect of the Yom Kippur War, is based on interviews with the participants from both sides of the fighting. As such it remain a compelling and powerful account of one of the greatest tank battles fought since World War II. It also provides the first in-depth analysis of exactly how and why an inferior number of Israeli defenders was capable of inflicting one of the greatest defeats in modern military history upon awe‑inspiring Arab armored forces.
Here are the intimate details of tank-against‑tank fighting, whether it be during retreats, in ambushes, or on the attack. Here are the stories of incredible courage and individual initiative as the Israeli defenders strive to contain the unexpected Syrian assault. During the 100‑hour battle that saved Israel, every Israeli tank that was committed to the Golan fighting was hit by hostile fire at least once, and some commanders had five or six tanks shot out from under them.
By the end of the war only a few days later, Israeli forces had counterattacked and advanced to where their artillery could hit the Damascus International Airport and other strategic targets with pinpoint accuracy. The Syrian army was virtually destroyed in the field, as were contingents from other Arab states such as Iraq and Jordan. How these remarkable turns of battle occurred is deftly laid out. This revealing account of a battle that changed the history of the Middle East is especially relevant today as tensions in the region increase once again.
It's 1984, and Marty Weiler is back in town for his twentieth high school class reunion. Happily married to the brilliant and beautiful Sonia, Marty finds himself trapped in a profound midlife crisis brought on by one more near-death experience than he can handle. He impulsively gets into the spirit of "going home" for a week by calling his high school sweetheart for the first time since she broke up with him in 1965. As Marty prepares to meet the alluring Glenda for lunch, he ruminates on their history together, beginning with their first encounter at summer camp in 1961. Without thinking about consequences, Marty sets his past and present, and the two great loves of his life, on a collision course full of revelations. The surprising results lead Marty to a clear understanding of where and how life has led him by the nose and what he must do to live the remainder of his days with love and grace.
Siege In the Clouds
An Oral History
From critically acclaimed military historian Eric Hammel comes a vivid oral history account of the Tet 1968 siege of the Khe Sanh Combat Base. The words of American fighting men caught up in the grueling, deadly seventy-seven-day ordeal create a harrowing tapestry of tragedy and triumph. As two North Vietnamese Army divisions move to surround them, the vastly outnumbered U.S. Marines rush to strengthen their defenses at the isolated base and several nearby hilltop positions. The Communist forces repeatedly attack, are repeatedly repelled, and then dig in to take the American base by siege-the makings of a classic, modern "set-piece" strategy in which the defenders become bait to tie the attackers to fixed positions in which they can be pummeled and pulverized by American artillery and air support. Khe Sanh: Siege in the Clouds is a ground-breaking step forward in the oral history genre. This gripping-and moving-narrative flows from the masterfully woven threads provided by nearly a hundred men who gallantly endured the wrenching all-out struggle to hold the combat base and its vulnerable outlying positions.