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"Execute Against Japan": The U.S. Decision to Conduct Unrestricted Submarine Warfare Hardcover – April 1, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“ . . . until now how the Navy managed to instantaneously move from the overt legal restrictions of the naval arms treaties that bound submarines to the cruiser rules of the eighteenth century to a declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare against Japan immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor has never been explained. Lieutenant Holwitt has dissected this process and has created a compelling story of who did what, when, and to whom.”—The Submarine Review



“Execute against Japan should be required reading for naval officers (especially in submarine wardrooms), as well as for anyone interested in history, policy, or international law.”—Adm. James P. Wisecup, President, US Naval War College (for Naval War College Review)



“Although the policy of unrestricted air and submarine warfare proved critical to the Pacific war’s course, this splendid work is the first comprehensive account of its origins—illustrating that historians have by no means exhausted questions about this conflict.”—World War II Magazine



“US Navy submarine officer Joel Ira Holwitt has performed an impressive feat with this book. . . . Holwitt is to be commended for not shying away from moral judgments . . . This is a superb book that fully explains how the United States came to adopt a strategy regarded by many as illegal and tantamount to ‘terror’.”—Military Review



"Joel Holwitt's ‘Execute Against Japan'  is a wonderful military history that examines with sophistication the development of ideas within the U.S. Navy about unrestricted submarine warfare. It is a major contribution to the history of World War II."  --Williamson Murray, author of The Iraq War,: A Military History
(Williamson Murray)

"It is a complex story of diplomacy, politics, and doctrinal debate, involving strong personalities and powerful intellects. It is well told and will reward the general reader and the specialist in naval history alike."  --
John F. Guilmartin Jr., professor of history, Ohio State University
(John F. Guilmartin Jr.,)

"'Execute Against Japan' is the first military history book I can remember reading in which the whole story was a revelation. It has completely changed the way in which I now view many of the most significant events of the 20th Century. By laying down a framework that explains how advances in technology made certain aspects of International Maritime Law irrelevant it bursts the bubble of precedants upon which some past conflicts were justified, including World War I. This book is a true ground breaker and something that any academic press should be delighted to have its brand on."--Thomas E. Crew, author of Combat Loaded: Across the Pacific on the USS Tate

(Thomas E. Crew)

". . . Holwitt, a U.S. Navy submariner, delivers an impressive account . . . although the policy of unrestricted air and submarine warfare proved critical to the Pacific war's course, this splendid work is the first comprehensive account of its origins--illustrating that historians have by no means exhausted questions about this conflict."--World War II Magazine

(World War II Magazine)

". . . Holwitt has filled an important gap in World War II history with his well-written and well-researched exploration of this major American policy shift."--Proceedings

(Proceedings 2010-01-01)

"The radical change in U.S. warfare policy discussed in this book has been noticed a number of times before, but this study is without doubt the most comprehensive and compelling analysis yet published. The heart of the book is a finely detailed and carefully nuanced analysis of the development of ideas and policy in the critical years before the U.S. entered the Second World War . . . The carefully researched narrative of this book makes it more suited for academic readers, although general readers with an interest in the subject will undoubtedly find it interesting as well. This worthwhile book also deserves the attention of scholars not only of naval and military policy, but those with an interest in civil-military relations."--International Journal of Maritime History

(International Journal of Maritime History 2010-02-01)

 "Holwitt’s conclusions are provocative, nuanced, and convincing . . . The depth of its scholarship and breadth of its conclusions make this book a “must” read not only for historians and naval professionals but also for Americans citizens in general."--Pacific Historical Review

(Roger Dingman Pacific Historical Review 2010-06-01)

 “Holwitt has meticulously researched a study of the legal history relating to the order given on 7 December 1941 and it should be included in a collection of anyone who is seriously interested in either naval warfare or the issue of warfare and the legal attempts to restrict it. The fact that the book aims itself at arguably the most important issue related to the submarine war, one not really discussed or understood, makes this a must-read for anyone interested in this field.”--The Northern Mariner

(Robert M. Dienesch The Northern Mariner 2010-06-01)

 " . . . until now how the Navy managed to instantaneously move from the overt legal restrictions of the naval arms treaties that bound submarines to the cruiser rules of the eighteenth century to a declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare against Japan immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor has never been explained. Lieutenant Holwitt has dissected this process and has created a compelling story of who did what, when and to whom.”--The Submarine Review

(Rear Admiral Jerry Holland The Submarine Review 2010-06-01)

"Execute Against Japan should be required reading for naval officers (especially in submarine wardrooms), as well as for anyone interested in history, policy, or international law."--Admiral James P. Wisecup, President, U.S. Naval War College for Naval War College Review

 


(Rear Admiral James P. Wisecup Naval War College Review)

"Lieutenant Joel Ira Holwitt of the US Navy's submarine force has written a useful analysis of how American naval leaders discarded long-standing American notions of freedom of the seas for the sake of strategic advantage against  Japan through unrestricted submarine warfare against Japanese merchant shipping . . . Holwitt has made an able contribution to the history of his service."--Military History of the West
(Wayne Wei-Siang Hsieh Military History of the West)

"U.S. Navy submarine officer Joel Ira Holwitt has performed an impressive feat with this book. . . Holwitt is to be commended for not shying away from moral judgments . . . This is a superb book that fully explains how the United States came to adopt a strategy regarded by many as illegal and tantamount to 'terror'."--Military Review
(CDR John T. Kuehn, Ph.D., USN Retired Military Review)

"An important contribution to the literature of the Pacific War."--Strategy Page

(A.A. Nofi 2012-05-22)

About the Author

Joel Ira Holwitt earned his Ph.D. in history from Ohio State University in 2005. "EXECUTE AGAINST JAPAN" is drawn from both his Ph.D. dissertation and M.A. thesis. He has also been published in the U.S. Naval Institute PROCEEDINGS magazine, NAVAL HISTORY magazine, the JOURNAL OF MILITARY HISTORY, MILITARY HISTORY OF THE WEST, the SUBMARINE REVIEW, and U.S. Naval Academy textbooks. A 2003 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he is an active duty submarine officer in the U.S. Navy. 
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press (April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603440836
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603440837
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,320,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joel Ira Holwitt earned his Ph.D. in history from Ohio State University in 2005. A 2003 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he is an active duty U.S. Navy submarine officer, who has served on board the nuclear fast-attack submarines USS HOUSTON, USS MISSOURI, and USS NEW MEXICO. He has also been published by the U.S. Naval Institute PROCEEDINGS magazine, NAVAL HISTORY magazine, the JOURNAL OF MILITARY HISTORY, SUBMARINE REVIEW, and the U.S. Naval War College Press.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
This is a well researched book.
Charles K.
It walks the reader well through the German experience in both wars, however, it lacks the depth of America's decision making process going into World War II.
Gerald W. Cravens
A must read for anyone interested in war history!
Phjexaa mjpbng1

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gerald W. Cravens on March 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For anyone puzzled how the United States came to a total reversal in attitude toward the legitimacy of Unrestricted Submarine Warfare, this will explain it as well as it likely will ever be explained. The author has researched the subject thoroughly and articulates well in unsophisticated language. He exposes the entanglements a nation can get itself into by idealistic politicians and leagalistic leaders. This is a refreshing work by a very skilled writer.
Another worthy work on the same subject is Diplomatic Ramifications of Unrestricted Submarine Warfare, 1939-1941, by Janet M. Manson (ISBN 0-313-26894-0). It walks the reader well through the German experience in both wars, however, it lacks the depth of America's decision making process going into World War II. Holwitt's book, therefore makes a good compliment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sharon L. Morcerf on March 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Holwit demonstrates a thorough understanding of this period of history, and offers valuable insight into one of the most controversial decisions made by our government in a wartime situation. Moreover, his style is layman-friendly and riveting as he builds his case. Although the subject is a specialized topic, Mr. Holwit has crafted an interesting and compelling book with broad appeal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David L. Dunagin on August 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Having grown up reading books on World War II submarines and watching all the great movies in the same vein, I felt I knew a lot about the history of the Silent Service. Boy was I wrong. What I know just bubbles at the top; this book gets deep into the mire of the rules of engagement in sinking merchant ships, covering the reasons Wilson had the USA enter WWI, his theory of totally open seas for merchant ships, to the thinking of the Navy, their ignored advice about the 1919 peace conference; the Washington Naval treaty and other aspects of international law in regards to waging war by means of submarines. Writings by submariners like Hyman Rickover on how to conduct war are ignored by the politicians; the theory of cruiser rules, to stop the merchant vessel and order the crew off before engaging it, a concept that would have been idiotic in our effort to choke Japan from its food and essential materials for conducting military operations and certianly would have lead to the loss of more of our subs. I enjoyed this book, an easy read for one with a historical bent, and I think it proves once again that military men are not morons or cretins, but seriously debate and think about how to pursue their duties.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By H. Moss on February 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am the proud wife and mother-in-law of two of our Navy's finest submarine officers. Anything I know about the history of the submarine force I gleaned from conversation with them. As I read Lt Holwitt's book I was impressed by the meticulous detail with which he traced the sequence of events leading up to the decision to execute unrestricted submarine warfare on December 7, 1941. I found that to be interesting and enlightening. In the course of detailing those events, Lt Holwitt also gave insight into the evolution of the submarine and the brave men who manned them. I found myself dismayed at the conditions under which these men performed their duty and the danger they lived with every day. It is exciting to read about their courage and daring, rising to meet the challenges of war and winning the day. As I mentioned, I am so proud of our submariners and as a result of reading Lt Holwitt's book, I am even more in awe of the submariners who sacrificed everything and set the standard for today's submarine force.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Phjexaa mjpbng1 on August 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
'Execute Against Japan' by Joel Holwitt is a fantastic and well written book. A must read for anyone interested in war history!
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