On the morning of June 7, 1942, six months to the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the USS Yorktown
"turned over on her port side and sank in about 3,000 fathoms of water with all battle flags flying." Many of her men watched from the decks of the Vireo
, the Benham
, the Hughes
, and the Hammann
, weeping as the Old Lady went down. The Battle of Midway was finally over. Though the Yorktown
was lost, the battle was won--what John Keegan
has called "as great a reversal of strategic fortune as the naval world has ever seen." From that point on, the Japanese remained primarily on the defensive at sea.
On the morning of May 19, 1998, Robert D. Ballard stared into a video monitor hoping for a glimpse of metal on the bottom of the sea. "Thar she blows! Bingo!" After almost three weeks out, painstakingly scanning the ocean floor with high-altitude sonar, and many months of research and planning, Ballard and his crew had spotted the Yorktown some three miles down. The wreck was in remarkably good condition: "It was as if we had stumbled on the ship a few minutes after it made its death plunge."
In Return to Midway, Ballard weaves a compelling narrative, blending the story of the famous battle with his battle to find the sunken ships--the Yorktown and the USS Hammann, as well as four Japanese aircraft carriers. First-hand accounts by the men who were there, including two Japanese and two American servicemen who joined Ballard and his crew for the hunt, as well as paintings and archival photographs, detail the battle in all its horror, while capturing the honor of the men who fought on both sides. Military-history buffs will find this book--the first in decades specifically about the Battle of Midway--especially valuable, though fans of Ballard's work as an oceanographer will be equally captivated. --Sunny Delaney
From Library Journal
Midway--the name evokes images of insurmountable odds and heroic sacrifice on the part of the U.S. Navy in 1942, for it was this battle (and those of the Coral Sea and Guadalcanal) that stemmed the tide of Japanese aggression in the Pacific and began the march to victory that would end in Tokyo harbor in August 1945. In this rich visual and narrative account, Ballard deftly intersperses chapters on the Battle of Midway with a fascinating account of his search for the U.S.S. Yorktown, which was sunk by a Japanese destroyer on June 7, 1942. Period photographs from the battle are combined with those of the Yorktown as she rests today, and paintings by marine artist Ken Marschall add detail to complete the record. The lively narrative is punctuated with two Japanese and two American oral history accounts of the battle. As with his books on the Titanic, the Bismarck, and the ships of Guadalcanal, Ballard has once again produced a visual tour de force that will evoke memories in those remaining veterans of what the late Gordon W. Prange termed the "miracle at Midway" while firing the imaginations of a younger generation. Highly recommended.-Harold N. Boyer, Springfield Twp. Lib., Aston, PA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.