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Carrier Battles: Command Decision in Harm's Way Hardcover – December 14, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 346 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (December 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591147948
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591147947
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #630,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Douglas V. Smith is Professor of Strategy and Head of the Strategy and Policy Division at the U.S. Naval War College. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Naval Postgraduate School, and Naval War College, and holds a Ph.D. in military history from Florida State University.

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Customer Reviews

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As a result of this experimentation, US carrier aviation developed very differently than that of the British.
Alan D. Zimm
The answer, according to Smith, lay in the mental preparation provided naval officers by both the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Naval War College.
Stanley D. Carpenter
In fact, the very first word my eyes happened to read in the entire book were a place where "Ozawa's" name was misspelled as "Ozaw."
Swift

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Alan D. Zimm on April 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book ought to have been a significant contribution to the analysis of the War in the Pacific. Unfortunately, it is instead a step backwards. There are so many inaccuracies, unsupportable biases and wierd causalities proposed by the author that it strips all credibility away from what ought to have been the strength of the book, a senior naval officer's assessment of the effectiveness of various US commanders in carrier battles. Add to it some really muddled thinking and imprecise writing and you have a book that is damaging to the study of naval history of the period.

There are lots of things that the author says that are just plain wrong. For example, He states that 21 ships were sunk at Pearl Harbor (correct answer: 8). Later he asserts that in the opening months of the war the Japanese had "sunk or disabled nine battleships," where the correct count is 7 (5 at Pearl Harbor, plus the battleship Prince of Wales and the Battlecruiser Repulse). He states that "Hong Kong and Thailand would be overrun as a prelude for moves against Burma and Malaya." In fact, Malaya was the opening attack in the war, and Thailand would not be "overrun," but its government would side with Japan. He states that the Japanese added drop tanks to Zeros for use against "the Dutch and British oil holdings in Southeast Asia." No, they were developed in order to allow Zeros to escort bombers from Taiwan to the Philippines, and thus freeing two carriers for the Pearl Harbor attack (see Okumiya and Horikoshi, ZERO!).
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Swift on January 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Anybody who has ever done an MBA or even had the most basic management or science training at some point in their lives at some point will have heard somebody given a short talk about what makes good charts and diagrame for, say, a PowerPoint presentation. It's not rocket science - charts and diagrams should be used to illustrate important points clearly and to aid the reader better understand key points that may be difficult by text alone.

When this book arrived, I at first flipped through it and naturally my eyes caught the graphs first. In fact, the very first word my eyes happened to read in the entire book were a place where "Ozawa's" name was misspelled as "Ozaw." Hmm.. that was a bit odd I thought, so I looked at some of the other charts and figures. It was a cavalcade of banality and charts done so badly, I was actually thinking that I had gotten a misprinted book.

Virtually every diagram is bad. here are a few chosen at random:
A chart showing ship movement around savo island is shown at such small size that absoutely no useful detail is presented. A chart of midway is so cluttered (and then inexplicably nearly duplicated a few pages later) to be likewise useless. A large figure is used to illustrate the historically meaningless concept of "Japan's Absolute National Defense line". There is at least one chart where scales and labels seems to have been forgone completely.

Virtually every chart/graph provided is bad. here are a few chosen at random: There are assorted absolutely pointless graphs (each taking up half a page!) that show things like 'speed of US aircraft.' with exactly 3 blindingly obvious or pedantic data points on them.
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32 of 42 people found the following review helpful By L. Lofquist on May 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As an amateur military historian, my reading is done for self-interest and leisure. Having said that, I found this book to be an outstanding historical study of the commanders and their decisions in the five crucial aircraft carrier battles of WW II: Coral Sea, Midway, the Eastern Solomons, Santa Cruz, and the Philippine Sea.

The author (Dr. Douglas Smith) is on the faculty at The Naval War College of Newport, RI and he has impeccable academic credentials. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Naval Postgraduate School, The Naval War College, and holds a Ph.D. from Florida State University. Yet even with the author's impressive credentials, this is not another stodgy, hard-to-read book on obscure events of WW II. It is well-written and even entertaining at times, especially when the author / professor issues each commander a grade on the command decisions made during the heat of the five key battles.

I found the book to be a nice balance between the unknown (fresh material researched from the archives of The Naval War College) and the well-known (the biggest naval battles in the largest naval campaign the world has ever seen). I learned a great deal of new information on already well-studied events.

This book shines new light on the command decisions made by the U.S. Navy's top leadership, men like "Bull" Halsey, Chester Nimitz, Raymond Spruance, and Frank Jack Fletcher. It proves that more than luck or good intelligence brought success to the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theatre of WW II. The outcome of the five Pacific carrier battles can be attributed to the merit of the decisions made by the naval commanders: their aggressiveness, decisiveness, and wisdom.

Published by The Naval Institute Press, you find meticulous documentation from original sources. That is helpful for scholars. But for the amateurs like myself, it never bogs down into tedious reading.

I'm so glad I own this book!
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