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The Twilight Warriors Paperback – 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; First edition (2010)
  • ISBN-10: 0767932412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767932417
  • ASIN: B004HQKERW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

I read this book and loved it from beginning to end.
Movus Cleveland
The writing is very good, and Gandt has done a thorough job of researching the aspects of the battle.
Jeffrey T. Munson
This is a great book about the kamikaze raids accompanying the Battle of Okinawa.
Joe Minnock

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

105 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey T. Munson on November 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
By the spring of 1945, the Japanese had been driven west across the Pacific by the ever-increasing strength of the American Navy. Okinawa, only 350 miles from mainland Japan, was to be the final battle leading up to the invasion of Japan. Okinawa would serve as a major staging area as well as a base for aircraft. But before these preparations could be made, the Japanese garrison needed to be defeated. On April 1, 1945, the Americans stormed ashore. What laid ahead was the most costly naval battle of the war. Author Robert Gandt describes the naval aspect of the battle for Okinawa in "The Twilight Warriors".

I've read several books about the battle for Okinawa, and this one is unique from the previous ones I've read. This book focuses specifically on the naval aspect of the fighting, while only mentioning the land battle in broad terms. Gandt pays particular attention to the kamikaze attacks, the suicide mission of the battleship Yamato, and the numerous air battles that took place in the area. The pilots who flew the planes were called "Tail-End Charlies", due to their status as late-comers to the war. These men also flew at the back of formations, stood at the end of chow lines, and even had their own sleeping quarters called "boys' town".

Perhaps the area of greatest danger was the destroyer picket stations. These ships would intercept incoming kamikazes and radio ahead to the main fleet. The Japanese were soon setting out to destroy these ships, and many American destroyers were lost as a result of the kamikaze attacks.

I felt Gandt did an especially good job of describing the suicide mission of the Yamato.
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Michael OConnor TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The battle for Okinawa was the last great campaign of World War II, a bitterly-fought, duel-to-the death struggle that pitted hundreds of thousands of American soldiers, sailors and marines against Japanese forces determined to save the Empire. As Americans soon found out, the most fearsome element of the Japanese forces defending Okinawa were swarms of kamikazes determined to "body crash" the American ships. Focusing on the U. S. Navy's involvement in the fight for Okinawa, author Robert Gandt interweaves the experiences of the Corsair pilots of VBF-10, assigned to USS Intrepid, against the backdrop of that epic land-sea-air struggle into a fascinating account of men at war.

TWILIGHT WARRIORS' storyline begins over a year before the first troops splashed ashore. While Eric Erickson and other young Americans were training to be naval aviators in September 1943, American brass were deciding the sequence of future operations in the Pacific and their Japanese counterparts were trying to devise strategies to stop the oncoming Americans. By the time Intrepid and Air Group 10 departed Pearl Harbor in March 1945, Japanese strategies and most of the the Emperor's fleet lay in ruins, their only effective weapon being kamikazes. The final months of the Navy's war saw hard-fought battles over Okinawa and the Japanese mainland. Air Group 10 and other Air Groups pounded the Japanese mainland, furnished CAP against never-ending kamikaze attacks, struck the remnants of the IJN fleet, etc. When VBF-10's war ended in May 1945, Erickson had won two DFCs, downed two e/a, helped sink BB Yamato and seen a half dozen squadronmates die in combat. In the Okinawa fighting, 12,520 Americans were killed or MIA including 4,907 USN personnel. Some 34 ships were sunk and 368(!) damaged including USS Intrepid.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer VINE VOICE on January 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Twilight Warriors by Robert Gant is an excellent book on the Okinawa Campaign. Gant covers the air, naval and ground aspects of the campaign, although I must say that the ground campaign gets kind of short shrift compared to the naval and air. Essentially this is the story of the Kamikaze attacks and the American response to them.

Gant frames the book around the experiences of the pilots of the USS Intrepid's fighter groups. We get fairly detailed information about the training and experiences of these guys and it forms a pretty good "hook" to provide context for the rest of the campaign. The book is really well written, detailed without bogging down and fairly balanced in its coverage of both the Japanese and American points of view. This book was detailed enough to teach even serious students of WWII something, while still being accessible to novices. Highly recommended.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Brent E. Jones on December 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The central strength of the book is the account of VBF-10 and other pilots from USS Intrepid CV-11. Gandt interviewed these men extensively through their reunion association, and the result is a rich account of their experiences. Perhaps the book might have been better served if it focused more exclusively on their experiences, but the author has chosen to make their account 'representative' of the aerial component of the Fast Carrier Task Force. He blends this account with other representative perspectives, picking and choosing from picket destroyers, soldiers on the ground, and the Japanese perspective. The result is a curious blend that dives down to the individual level, then soars back up to a more global view of events. The book is quite readable throughout this process.

While it explores an interesting cross-section of men and units at Okinawa, it is not a comprehensive account. As good as many of the individual storylines were, I found myself wanting more detail from them. For instance, pilot Wes Hays is mentioned in the photo inserts as receiving the Navy Cross for the Yamato attack, yet no mention of this exists anywhere in the body text.

My biggest concern with the book is that it plays fast and loose with events in the interest of compelling narrative. While the book reads and flows well, there are sections that are simply not representative of well-documented events. A glaring example of this is on page 79 with the account of an attack against USS Enterprise CV-6 on March 20th, 1945. The author writes that "fifteen to twenty planes bore down on the veteran carrier" and that one "managed to get close enough to score a near miss with its bomb and rake the flight deck with its machine guns.
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More About the Author

FLYING AND WRITING: These have been the dual passions of Bob Gandt's life. He published his first story at age sixteen - the same year he first soloed an airplane. Since then he has accrued something over 25,000 hours, written fourteen books and countless articles.

As a U. S. Navy pilot he logged over 300 carrier landings and nearly 2,000 hours in the A-4 Skyhawk. In his deja vu work, BOGEYS AND BANDITS (Viking Penguin), he joins a Navy F/A-18 training squadron at the same base where he had trained years before.

For 26 years he flew as a pilot with Pan American World Airways, domiciled in Berlin, Hong Kong, New York, and San Francisco. His classic airline account, SKYGODS (Wm. Morrow & Co.), recounts the meteoric descent and crash of the world's most glamorous airline, Pan Am.

During the late 1980s and early '90s, Gandt flew with the famed Redhawk Aerobatic Team. Flying their Siai-Marchetti fighter-trainers (rescued from a military boneyard in the Congo), the Redhawks performed their formation aerobatic routine for over three million air show spectators.

Gandt's first book, SEASON OF STORMS recounts the dramatic tale of the WWII battle for Hong Kong. His long association with Pan Am and its romantic history inspired CHINA CLIPPER (Naval Institute Press), which relives the mystique of the great commercial flying boats. His fascination with warbirds and the high-adrenalin world of unlimited air racing provided the background for FLY LOW FLY FAST (Viking Penguin), the inside account of the battle for the unlimited air racing championship at Reno, Nevada.

Gandt's first military adventure novel, WITH HOSTILE INTENT (Penguin Putnam) was followed by ACTS OF VENGEANCE, BLACK STAR, SHADOWS OF WAR, THE KILLING SKY, and BLACK STAR RISING.

In 1998 he made his screenwriting debut in 1998 on the CBS series Pensacola: Wings Of Gold, adapted from BOGEYS AND BANDITS. Gandt served as writer and technical consultant for the twenty-two-episodes of the show, starring James Brolin as the commander of a Marine F/A-18 training squadron.

Gandt's historical work INTREPID, co-authored by Bill White, with a foreword by fellow naval aviator Senator John McCain, was published by Random House in the autumn of 2008 and was the winner of the Admiral Farragut Book Award. His follow on book, THE TWILIGHT WARRIORS, the saga of the sea and air battle for Okinawa (Random House) won the prestigious Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature.

Gandt and his wife, Anne, make their home at the Spruce Creek Fly-In in Daytona Beach, Florida, where Anne heads up the real estate firm, Country Club Properties of Spruce Creek.
Visit his web site at www.Gandt.com