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Black Shoe Carrier Admiral: Frank Jack Fletcher at Coral Sea, Midway & Guadalcanal Hardcover – June, 2006
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Despite this record, Fletcher has been savaged by critics for allegedly failing to stand by the Marine garrison at Guadalcanal, and, since he headed the relief expedition to besieged Wake in January 1942, he gets blamed for that expedition's turning back as well (despite the fact that he was ordered to do so). That he won three carriers battles against superior forces never gets him the credit he deserves. This was due in part to a confluence of several negative factors. First, he was a "black shoe" admiral, and not an aviator - and aviators were furious that carrier task forces were being commanded by non-aviators in the early stages of the war. In their mind every mission he didn't send them on would have been a great success - and that's what they told his superiors. Second, he was a convenient scapegoat for other admirals - most notably Richmond Kelly Turner at Guadalcanal, and CinC Ernest King - when they either made mistakes (Kelly at Guadalcanal) or were dissatisfied with his failure to act more "offensively" in spite of the circumstances that prevented it, or counseled against it. Third, when the attacks started rolling in during the war and after, Fletcher did not respond to correct the record, in part because of two unfortunate circumstances.Read more ›
The author's painstaking research into primary sources largely ignored by other writers (i.e., memos, letters, and logs kept by those who were present with Fletcher during those battles, plus actual radio messages and dispatches sent by and to him aboard his various flagships) reveal a reasonable rationale for many of Fletcher's controversial decisions that mostly seem to have escaped his critics. It's not possible to adequately summarize them in a short review like this, but suffice to say that admirals sitting behind desks in Hawaii or Washington are poorly situated for grasping all of the important realities of a convoluted combat scenario occurring half a world away. Thus when Fletcher is condemned for failing to charge full speed ahead to engage the enemy when doing so would have totally exhausted the fuel in his escorting destroyers, making victory impossible and needless destroyer losses inevitable, he is chastised for failing to engage the enemy rather than praised for sensibly preserving America's meager fleet assets in the face of superior forces.
While there is much more to be said about this fine volume, it seems necessary in this forum to spend as much energy reviewing some of the other reviews as the book itself.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have read most accounts of Coral Sea and Midway and for years thought Jack Fletcher was just a failure as a commander. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Roger V. Gregory
Very pleasant read about a very capable admiral who in the early stages of WWII made the best decisions he could given the constraints of leadership, men and equipment that he had... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Ravine Man
Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher is the nephew of Admiral Frank Friday Fletcher who is the namesake for the Fletcher Class Destroyers. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Michael Rea
I have read this book twice, am about to start it again and I feel it's about time I said something about it. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Laura Ann Scaife
Frank Jack Fletcher was another “Quiet Warrior,” borrowing from Tom Buell’s label for Raymond Spruance. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Steven L. Turner
A valuable objective view of the events of the period that broadened my understanding. Fletcher and his place in history certainly becomes more understandable in the process.Published 19 months ago by Colin Cooper
This is a detailed history-the title of this book says about Frank Jack Fletcher and his command of the U.S. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Tony Marquise Jr.
exhaustive, well researched, original documents found and used, explains how fleets operate far from base and their capabilities and limitations. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Edgar Harrison