The Fleet the Gods Forgot: The U.S. Asiatic Fleet in World War II

Naval Institute Press
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The heroic story of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet at the outbreak of World War II and their disastrous encounter with vastly superior Japanese forces.
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Publisher
Naval Institute Press
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Published on
Aug 15, 2014
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Pages
344
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ISBN
9781612512938
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / World War II
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Patrol Wing Ten was the only U.S. Navy aviation unit to fight the Japanese in the early weeks of World War II, and the daring exploits of its PBY scout-plane pilots offer a dramatic tale of heroism, duty, and controversy. Poorly equipped and dead tired from flying back-to-back patrols with no fighter cover, the men lost sixty-six percent of their aircraft in just eight weeks as they took on an enemy that outnumbered them nearly 1,000 to one. This forceful narrative places the reader right in the midst of their courageous battle. Dwight Messimer's aggressive research on the topic has resulted in a work that provides moving details to their desperate but valiant acts against the seemingly invincible Japanese juggernaut that swept across the southwest Pacific at the opening of the war.

By Christmas Day in 1941, Patrol Wing Ten was forced to split into two groups, one fighting an air and sea campaign in Java, the other fighting as infantry on Bataan and Corregidor. Moving back and forth between the two groups, Messimer skillfully interweaves their experiences with the major events of the overall war. He uses material from the fifty survivors he managed to track down and deftly captures their ability to maintain a sense of humor in the face of overwhelming danger. The more than one hundred personal and official documents uncovered during years of research reveal new information relating to technical points about the planes, facts verified by the PBY crews that do not agree with popularly accepted ideas. To those who believe the wing accomplished nothing--and this group includes many pilots--Messimer argues that while attempts to bomb the Japanese fleet proved futile because the PBYs were unsuitable for such a task, the wing's rescue and evacuation missions saved many lives. The airdales themselves were not so lucky. When Corregidor fell, nearly half of them were captured and many died in captivity.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"Son, we’re going to Hell."

The navigator of the USS Houston confided these prophetic words to a young officer as he and his captain charted a course into U.S. naval legend. Renowned as FDR’s favorite warship, the cruiser USS Houston was a prize target trapped in the far Pacific after Pearl Harbor. Without hope of reinforcement, her crew faced a superior Japanese force ruthlessly committed to total conquest. It wasn’t a fair fight, but the men of the Houston would wage it to the death.

Hornfischer brings to life the awesome terror of nighttime naval battles that turned decks into strobe-lit slaughterhouses, the deadly rain of fire from Japanese bombers, and the almost superhuman effort of the crew as they miraculously escaped disaster again and again–until their luck ran out during a daring action in Sunda Strait. There, hopelessly outnumbered, the Houston was finally sunk and its survivors taken prisoner. For more than three years their fate would be a mystery to families waiting at home.

In the brutal privation of jungle POW camps dubiously immortalized in such films as The Bridge on the River Kwai, the war continued for the men of the Houston—a life-and-death struggle to survive forced labor, starvation, disease, and psychological torture. Here is the gritty, unvarnished story of the infamous Burma–Thailand Death Railway glamorized by Hollywood, but which in reality mercilessly reduced men to little more than animals, who fought back against their dehumanization with dignity, ingenuity, sabotage, will–power—and the undying faith that their country would prevail.

Using journals and letters, rare historical documents, including testimony from postwar Japanese war crimes tribunals, and the eyewitness accounts of Houston’s survivors, James Hornfischer has crafted an account of human valor so riveting and awe-inspiring, it’s easy to forget that every single word is true.

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from James D. Hornfischer's Neptune's Inferno.
Historian Ronald H. Spector, drawing on declassified intelligence files, an abundance of British and American archival material, Japanese scholarship and documents, and the research and memoirs of scholars, politicians, and the military men, presents a thrilling narrative of American war in the Pacific.

Spector reassesses U.S. and Japanese strategy and offers some provocative interpretations. He shows that the dual advance across the Pacific by MacArthur and Nimitz was less a product of strategic calculation and more a pragmatic solution to bureaucratic, doctrinal, and public relations problems facing the Army and Navy. He also argues that Japan made its fatal error not in the Midway campaign but in abandoning its offensive strategy after that defeat and allowing itself to be drawn into a war of attrition.

Combining impeccable research with electrifying detail, Spector vividly recreates the major battles, little-known campaigns, and unfamiliar events of this brutal 44-month struggle. He reveals that the U.S. had secret plans to wage unrestricted submarine warfare against Japan months before Pearl Harbor and demonstrates that MacArthur and his commanders ignored important intercepts of Japanese messages that would have saved thousands of lives in Papua and Leyte. He skillfully takes the reader from top-secret strategy meetings in Washington, London, and Tokyo to distant beaches and remote Asian jungles with battle-weary GIs. Throughout, Spector contends that American decisions in the Pacific War were shaped more often by the struggles between the British and the Americans, and between the Army and the Navy, than by strategic considerations. Revealing what really happened in the course of a conflict that ended with the most deadly air raid ever, this contribution to WWII history adds a new dimension to our understanding of the people and forces that determined its outcome.
“Eugene Sledge became more than a legend with his memoir, With The Old Breed. He became a chronicler, a historian, a storyteller who turns the extremes of the war in the Pacific—the terror, the camaraderie, the banal and the extraordinary—into terms we mortals can grasp.”—Tom Hanks

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

In The Wall Street Journal, Victor Davis Hanson named With the Old Breed one of the top five books on epic twentieth-century battles. Studs Terkel interviewed the author for his definitive oral history, The Good War. Now E. B. Sledge’s acclaimed first-person account of fighting at Peleliu and Okinawa returns to thrill, edify, and inspire a new generation.

An Alabama boy steeped in American history and enamored of such heroes as George Washington and Daniel Boone, Eugene B. Sledge became part of the war’s famous 1st Marine Division—3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. Even after intense training, he was shocked to be thrown into the battle of Peleliu, where “the world was a nightmare of flashes, explosions, and snapping bullets.” By the time Sledge hit the hell of Okinawa, he was a combat vet, still filled with fear but no longer with panic.

Based on notes Sledge secretly kept in a copy of the New Testament, With the Old Breed captures with utter simplicity and searing honesty the experience of a soldier in the fierce Pacific Theater. Here is what saved, threatened, and changed his life. Here, too, is the story of how he learned to hate and kill—and came to love—his fellow man.

“In all the literature on the Second World War, there is not a more honest, realistic or moving memoir than Eugene Sledge’s. This is the real deal, the real war: unvarnished, brutal, without a shred of sentimentality or false patriotism, a profound primer on what it actually was like to be in that war. It is a classic that will outlive all the armchair generals’ safe accounts of—not the ‘good war’—but the worst war ever.”—Ken Burns
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