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The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History) Hardcover – October 5, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0195397932 ISBN-10: 0195397932 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews


"The Battle of Midway was the hinge on which the war in the Pacific turned. Its story deserves retelling, and Symonds' book does a wonderful job of it." --The American Spectator

"Mr. Symonds has marshaled the data of seven decades to produce an account that is clear and readable, benefiting from his easy expertise in naval matters." --The Wall Street Journal

"Important...documenting a role too often overlooked and too little understood: the essential role played by the U.S. Navy in winning the war in the Pacific." - The Dallas Morning News

"[W]holly satisfying . . . a lucid, intensely researched, mildly revisionist account of a significant moment in American military history." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Craig Symonds has delivered yet another outstanding work, a work that will set the standard for studies of the Battle of Midway for years to come. Even if one thinks one knows all there is to know about Midway, Mr. Symonds' plethora of new facts, rationales for what and why each side performed the way it did, human interest stories and more make The Battle of Midway indispensable . . . The story of the battle unfolding and being fought is absolutely outstanding, but the events before and after it are equally well told. In addition, the supporting charts, photographs, references and bibliography are awesome. For anyone at all interested in the Battle of Midway, the Pacific War or the Navy, this is a must read."
--The Washington Times

Selected as a Best Book of 2011 by Military History Quarterly

"Deeply researched, shrewdly argued, and powerfully narrated, The Battle of Midway is a superb work of the historian's craft. It easily takes its place as the best and most comprehensive account of the pivotal battle from the American perspective." -Richard B. Frank, author of Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle and Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire

"In The Battle of Midway Symonds has effectively synthesized the huge mass of information about the Midway battle into a fast-moving, highly readable account filled with nuggets of fascinating biographical material about many of the principals, both American and Japanese . . . Symonds describes the scenes of the Battle of Midway itself with the knowing eye of a fine historian . . . Craig Symonds has crafted an excellent addition to the pantheon of important literature about the transcendent American naval victory at Midway. The Battle of Midway deserves to be read and enjoyed." --Naval History

"Compulsively readable" --The Week

"Well documented through interviews, official records, and secondary sources, the book will show readers that Midway was, as Wellington would have said, "a close-run thing." General military history enthusiasts will be fascinated, and specialists will revel in the careful dissection of the action. -- Library Journal

"[A] superb narrative, clearly, vividly, and energetically written, with attention to detail that is always relevant to his interpretation . . . this book will be read appreciatively by other non-specialists. Indeed, it demonstrates why military history should not be considered 'merely' a 'niche' subject, but part of the mainstream of the national narrative."

"A fascinating and informative retelling of the most important naval battle of the Pacific War. Symonds once again demonstrates his superb mastery of his craft." -Jonathan Parshall, co-author of Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway

Chosen as one of Proceedings Notable Books of 2011

About the Author

Craig L. Symonds is Professor of History Emeritus at the United States Naval Academy. He is the author of many books on American naval history, including Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles That Shaped American History as well as Lincoln and His Admirals, co-winner of the Lincoln Prize in 2009.

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Product Details

  • Series: Pivotal Moments in American History
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195397932
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195397932
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.5 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (194 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Craig L. Symonds is Professor Emeritus at the United States Naval Academy where he taught naval history and Civil War History for thirty years.
A native of Anaheim, California, Symonds earned his B.A. degree at U.C.L.A., and his Masters and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Florida where he studied under the late John K. Mahon. In the 1970s he was a U.S. Navy officer and the first ensign ever to lecture at the prestigious Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. After his naval service, Symonds remained at the War College as a civilian Professor of Strategy from 1974-1975.
He came to the Naval Academy in 1976, and during his thirty-year career there he became a very popular professor whose Civil War classes were always over-subscribed. He was named teacher of the Year in 1988, and the Researcher of the Year in 1998, the first person ever to win both awards. He chaired the History Department from 1988 to 1992. He also chaired the Naval Academy Self Study for institutional accreditation, the Curriculum Reform Committee, and served on the Naval Academy Admissions Board. In addition to the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, he was awarded the Civilian Meritorious Service Medal three times. From 1994 to 1995 he served as Professor of Strategy and Policy at the Britannia Naval College in Dartmouth, England.
Symonds is the author of twelve books and the editor of nine others. In addition he has written over one hundred scholarly articles in professional journals and popular magazines as well as more than twenty book chapters in historical anthologies. Five of his books were selections of the Book-of-the-Month Club, and six have been selections of the History Book Club. His books have won the Barondess Lincoln Prize, the Daniel and Marilyn Laney Prize, the S.A. Cunningham Award, the Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Prize, and the John Lyman book Prize three times. In 2009 he shared the $50,000 Lincoln Prize with James M. McPherson. He also won the "Annie" Award in Literary Arts given by Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
Symonds was a Trustee of the Society of Military History, and serves on the Executive Committee of the Lincoln Forum, and the board of Directors of the Admiral Nimitz Foundation. He was a member of the Lincoln Prize Committee and chaired the Jefferson Davis Prize Committee. He is a member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Committee. From 2005 to 1007 he was Chief Historian of the USS Monitor Center at the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia, helping oversee the opening and promotion of that exhibit.
Now retired, Symonds is much in demand around the country as a speaker on Civil War subjects. He has spoken at Civil War Round Tables in twenty-seven states and two foreign countries, given tours of battlefields and other historical sites, and helped conduct leadership workshops based on the life of Abraham Lincoln. Craig and his wife, Marylou, live in Annapolis, Maryland.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

126 of 129 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Russell on September 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Craig Symond's new book may very well be the one that anyone deeply interested in its subject has long been waiting for--a book that tells the entire Midway story with all of the latter-day research and revelations that have enhanced or sometimes changed our understandings of the event.

There are two good reasons for that. One, Symonds is an acclaimed professor emeritus from the U.S. Naval Academy, with over a dozen books on American naval and military history in print. But equally important if not more so, he relied very heavily on his association with the Battle of Midway Roundtable, an internet forum that for years has included scores of actual Midway veterans plus many of its premier historians and authors. For nitty-gritty details on any element of the battle, there is no better resource.

But as you might expect from an author of this caliber, Symonds reached far beyond the internet for research. Primary sources include material in the National Archives and from the Naval War College, the Naval History and Heritage Command, and of course the Naval Academy. The references include the author's interviews with and oral histories by some of Midway's key participants, including Joseph Rochefort, Edwin Layton, Richard Best, John "Jimmie" Thach, Albert Earnest, N. J. "Dusty" Kleiss, and Donald "Mac" Showers. While an impressive source list like that can also be found in other books, Symonds has managed to couple them with an account of the battle that overcomes the criticisms commonly leveled at some of the less successful Midway authors. His book is a dual dose of thorough research and expert composition that should propel it toward the top of any critical listing of works on Midway.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Craig Symonds's newest book is a wonderful read for both those who know little about Midway or have read older accounts such as Walter Lord's INCREDIBLE VICTORY and Prange et al's MIRACLE AT MIDWAY. Though maybe not as dramatic as the former or detailed as the latter, it offers a great overview of the battle and the Pacific campaign that led up to it. While I am fairly new to the study of the battle, the book definitely has piqued my interest and most likely will do the same for any one else who picks it up to want to read more. Symonds has been able to pull together some of the more recent research about the battle (including Weisheit's conclusions about the true flight path of most of USS Hornet's squadrons) as well as helping to attack many of the myths we have long heard about Midway. Symonds is willing to share his own opinions of that conflict that clash with commonly held views about the battle. He is quite critical in his opinions of Mitscher's and and Stanhope Ring's performances on June 4, 1942. However, after reading his evidence it is hard to disagree with his conclusions.

Though this is part of the Pivotal Moments of American History series that often offer quite superficial approaches to the topic discussed, I was impressed by the detail and individual accounts. Some readers may get impatient as about a third to half of the book is devoted to the period immediately after Pearl Harbor to Midway. However, I found the author's accounts of Coral Sea and the Japanese foray into the Indian Ocean informative and useful setting up his great story.

The only area that I wish were improved was the "postscripts type" section. As a reader who enjoys reading what happened to many of a book's participants, I found this too brief in the book.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By MarkK VINE VOICE on October 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
When considering the truly pivotal events in American history, it is difficult to find many that are as significant as the battle of Midway. As Craig Symonds notes in his introduction, "there are few moments in American history in which the course of events tipped so suddenly and so dramatically as it did on June 4, 1942." For it was on that day that the United States Navy succeeded in smashing the heart of the Japanese carrier force that had so completely dominated the Pacific Ocean during the first six months of the war there, scoring a victory that changed the course of World War II. Symonds's book provides an account of this dramatic battle, as well as an understanding of the chain of events that led up to the clash between the American and Japanese fleets.

One of the key factors he identifies early on is the growing presence of the "victory disease" infecting the thinking of Japanese naval officers. An increasing assumption of victory was perhaps understandable, though, given the successes Japanese forces enjoyed at the start of the war. Much of this success was the consequence of the quality of Japanese equipment, as well as the demanding levels of training and previous combat experience of Japanese forces. Yet these advantages would prove to be temporary the longer the war wore on, as they were products of a system ill capable of replacing losses at the pace necessary. In the short term, though, Japan went from triumph to triumph, conquering southeast Asia and dominating Allied forces in the naval battles waged.

Yet American commanders were determined to punch back.
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