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The First Team and the Guadalcanal Campaign: Naval Fighter Combat from August to November 1942 Paperback – July 1, 2005


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The First Team and the Guadalcanal Campaign: Naval Fighter Combat from August to November 1942 + The First Team: Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway + The First South Pacific Campaign: Pacific Fleet Strategy December 1941 - June 1942
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591144728
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591144724
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 7.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #819,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John B. Lundstrom is Curator Emeritus of History at the Milwaukee Public Museum where he has worked since 1967. He is the author of five books, including Black Shoe Carrier Admiral, The First Team and coauthor of Fateful Rendezvous: The Life of Butch O'Hare.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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A must read for the student of the Pacific War.
Philip Draper
His ability to weave these details into a gripping story in which the characters come to life is just as unique.
Rick Kaneen
I've read several books about the aircraft carrier battles around Guadalcanal.
H. J. vanGorder Jr.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Steve Conslaw on June 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you are a casual reader of World War II books, this is NOT the book for you, but if you are a wonk, then you'll love this book and John Lundstrom's companion book which covers the time period of Pearl Harbor to Midway. What sets Lundstrom apart is that he has taken the time to get to know virtually all of the pilots (on both sides) who fought in the Pacific battles in 1942. A theme that runs through both books is that each side had a small fraternity of pilots, and everybody knew each other. These pilots ("The First Team") held the line through the Guadalcanal campaign. Those that replaced them generally did not have the same level of skill.

Lundstrom is good at separating myths from the facts. He must either read Japanese or have a great collaboration with someone who does because his research through Japanese sources is the best that I've seen.

One interesting fact brought to light by Lundstrom: in terms of fighter-to-fighter combat through the Guadalcanal campaign, the A6M Zero and the F4F Wildcat effectively fought to a draw. If you see a reference on the F4F claiming a 5/1 kill ratio or something like that, it is likely based on inflated claims and claims against bombers and seaplanes. The biggest difference between the two types statistically is that a F4F pilot was much more likely to survive the downing of his plane. More of the United State's first team survived to fight again and to train other pilots to fight.

Japan made a mistake in trying to achieve air superiority over Guadalcanal from Rabaul, which is over 500 miles away. Just because the Model 21 Zero could fly that far and fight doesn't mean that it was a good idea to make it a regular practice.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Charles L. Ainsworth on January 9, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although this book concentrates on U.S. Navy fighter combat during the first four months of the Guadalcanal campaign, it gives so many details of associated events that it should be read by anyone interested in the entire Guadalcanal campaign itself. This book also does a great job of giving details of the Japanese side, even to the point of naming most of the individual Japanese pilots involved in combat with the U.S. Navy and Marines around Guadalcanal. The only criticism (and this is slight criticism) I have of this book is Lundstrom's strong defence, for whatever reason, of Fletcher's actions during the initial part of the campaign which have been heavily criticized by just about every other historian. But, I guess it stands to reason that at least one credible historian would find a reason to defend Fletcher.

Anyway, if I were to name the top three books about the Guadalcanal campaign, this would be one of them along with Richard Frank's "Guadalcanal, the Definitive Account" and Michael Smith's "Bloody Ridge."
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By heikki.hietala@bates.fi on July 2, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Rarely does a book appear on the history of warfare that manages to keep both the micro and the macro in view. Lundstrom gives us just that. The fierce fighting at Guadalcanal has been written about by everyone and his brother, but now Lundstrom gives us the details down to the "who flew Joe Foss's wing on that day?" level. If you are into aerial combat simply for the thrill, you're better off reading Eric Hammel, but if you really want to know the whys and whens, this is your Bible. It is mine for sure.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Erv Crain on April 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like his earlier volume, The First Team: Pacific Naval Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway, Ludstrom's scholarship in the Guadalcanal volume is utterly comprehensive. So much so that wading through all the details becomes a bit overwhelming at times. There is certainly a place for such no-stone-left-unturned works and I don't regret my purchase at all. However, all non academics like myself who approach such works out of personal historical interest, rather than preparation for the classroom, will find reading Lundstrom as challenging as he is satisfying.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ned Middleton TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
There are books which I read from cover to cover and others which are used for research purposes to be consulted as and when needed. For me, this book falls into the latter category but that is because I am forever researching shipwrecks all over the world. Let me be clear because I do not want to give the wrong impression about this work. This book is extremely readable and not just a collection of facts and figures. So, if you want to read all about the Guadalcanal Campaign, this is probably the only work you will ever require.

This report into the Guadalcanal Campaign is as complete and comprehensive as one might hope to find. There are 626 pages of fine print with very few photographs. What pictures there are could have been improved but photos are not the purpose of this work. Instead the objective is to tell the story of Guadalcanal and tell that story it does.

My own interest in the book commenced with a recommendation that it contained an excellent account of the USS Aaron Ward. Easily found because it is the first word in the Index, the information I found here has certainly added considerably to my existing knowledge of this brave ship.

If that detail about one ship is indicative of what other readers will discover about their own particular area of interest from those four hellish months in 1942, then this is an excellent work.

NM
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