James D. Hornfischer

James D. Hornfischer is a writer, literary agent, and former book editor. The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, his first book, won the 2004 Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and their three children.
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The extraordinary story of the World War II air, land, and sea campaign that brought the U.S. Navy to the apex of its strength and marked the rise of the United States as a global superpower

Winner, Commodore John Barry Book Award, Navy League of the United States • Winner, John Lehman Distinguished Naval Historian Award, Naval Order of the United States

With its thunderous assault on the Mariana Islands in June 1944, the United States crossed the threshold of total war. In this tour de force of dramatic storytelling, distilled from extensive research in newly discovered primary sources, James D. Hornfischer brings to life the campaign that was the fulcrum of the drive to compel Tokyo to surrender—and that forever changed the art of modern war.

With a close focus on high commanders, front-line combatants, and ordinary people, American and Japanese alike, Hornfischer tells the story of the climactic end of the Pacific War as has never been done before. Here are the epic seaborne invasions of Saipan, Tinian, and Guam, the stunning aerial battles of the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot, the first large-scale use of Navy underwater demolition teams, the largest banzai attack of the war, and the daring combat operations large and small that made possible the strategic bombing offensive culminating in the atomic strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From the seas of the Central Pacific to the shores of Japan itself, The Fleet at Flood Tide is a stirring, authoritative, and cinematic portrayal of World War II’s world-changing finale.

Illustrated with original maps and more than 120 dramatic photographs

“Quite simply, popular and scholarly military history at its best.”—Victor Davis Hanson, author of Carnage and Culture
 
“The dean of World War II naval history . . . In his capable hands, the story races along like an intense thriller. . . . Narrative nonfiction at its finest—a book simply not to be missed.”—James M. Scott, Charleston Post and Courier
 
“An impressively lucid account . . . admirable, fascinating.”—The Wall Street Journal
 
“An extraordinary memorial to the courageous—and a cautionary note to a world that remains unstable and turbulent today.”—Admiral James Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander, NATO, author of Sea Power
 
“A masterful, fresh account . . . ably expands on the prior offerings of such classic naval historians as Samuel Eliot Morison.”—The Dallas Morning News
“This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can.”

With these words, Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Copeland addressed the crew of the destroyer escort USS Samuel B. Roberts on the morning of October 25, 1944, off the Philippine Island of Samar. On the horizon loomed the mightiest ships of the Japanese navy, a massive fleet that represented the last hope of a staggering empire. All that stood between it and Douglas MacArthur’ s vulnerable invasion force were the Roberts and the other small ships of a tiny American flotilla poised to charge into history.

In the tradition of the #1 New York Times bestseller Flags of Our Fathers, James D. Hornfischer paints an unprecedented portrait of the Battle of Samar, a naval engagement unlike any other in U.S. history—and captures with unforgettable intensity the men, the strategies, and the sacrifices that turned certain defeat into a legendary victory.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from James D. Hornfischer's Neptune's Inferno.

Praise for The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors

“One of the finest WWII naval action narratives in recent years, this book follows in the footsteps of Flags of Our Fathers. . . . Exalting American sailors and pilots as they richly deserve. . . . Reads like a very good action novel.”—Publishers Weekly

“Reads as fresh as tomorrow's headlines. . . . Hornfischer's captivating narrative uses previously classified documents to reconstruct the epic battle and eyewitness accounts to bring the officers and sailors to life.”—Texas Monthly

“Hornfischer is a powerful stylist whose explanations are clear as well as memorable. . . . A dire survival-at-sea saga.”—Denver Post

“In The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, James Hornfischer drops you right into the middle of this raging battle, with 5-inch guns blazing, torpedoes detonating and Navy fliers dive-bombing. . . . The overall story of the battle is one of American guts, glory and heroic sacrifice.”—Omaha World Herald
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.
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