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4.0 out of 5 stars The Beginning Of The End For The Japanese, October 25, 2012
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This review is from: Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun (Hardcover)
In June, 1942, the American Navy smashed the Japanese fleet at the Battle of Midway. The Japanese lost four aircraft carriers; a blow from which they never recovered. In "Islands of Destiny", author John Prados examines the situation in the Pacific immediately after Midway and sets the scene for the upcoming Solomons campaign.

Prados argues that, after Midway, the Japanese weren't as bad off as first believed. He states that new carriers to replace the ones lost at Midway were already in the pipeline as well as stating that the Japanese still had more warships of every category than the U.S. Navy had in the Pacific. I agree with this statement, but the fact remains that the Japanese never recovered from losing the four front-line carriers. Their industrial might was not even close to that of the United States. So while the American Essex-class carriers began joining the fleet in 1943, the Japanese were soon surpassed, never to catch up.

After the success at Midway, the Americans set their sights on the Solomons. Intelligence led to the discovery of the Japanese constructing an airfield on Guadalcanal. If complete, this airfield would allow the Japanese to attack Australia and surrounding islands. Recognizing the threat this airfield posed, the Americans invaded in August, 1942.

The first half of "Islands of Destiny" deals with the battle of Guadalcanal. Prados does a good job of describing the invasion as well as the many naval battles fought in Ironbottom Sound. The Savo debacle is discussed as well as the numerous shellings of Henderson Field.

With Guadalcanal secured, the Americans began their slow northward approach toward Rabaul. Here, Prados describes such events as the Battles of Santa Cruz and Bismark Sea, the mission to shoot down Yamamoto, and the final isolation of Rabaul.

Overall, I thought John Prados did a good job of describing the battles in the Solomons. Granted, much of the reading is technical, but the descriptions of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the mission to get Yamamoto, and the attacks on Rabaul were very accurate. The Solomons campaign lasted almost two full years, and this campaign paved the way for the future Central Pacific battles.

I recommend this book highly. Although it may be hard to read at times, the information contained inside is very good and gives the reader an accurate account on what the Solomons campaign was like.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 6, 2013 2:02:56 PM PST
A. Pulsipher says:
Japanese carrier production was far less than needed to ever dream of keeping pace with the Americans. The best, most modern Japanese carriers at Pearl Harbor were the Shokaku and Zuikaku; these were improved versions of the Hiryu and Soryu. I can only identify one "purpose built" carrier built by the Japanese after Pearl Harbor; the excellent Taiho (sunk at the Phillipine Sea), a further improvement on the Shokaku design. Beyond the Taiho, the Japanese only had conversions in the shipyard pipeline, and these were poor ones at that. There were several liner conversions that might have roughly compared to the "Independence" class CL conversion carriers, but not in near the number as the "Independence" class itself. The "Independence" class alone quickly put much more combat aircraft at sea and into the fight than all of the Japanese conversions and new construction combined (post Pearl Harbor). Plus, just about every Japanese conversion carrier was too slow to run with the "fleet carriers"; given their light cruiser petigree, the "Independence" class were right at home along side the Essex class fleet carriers. The biggest embarrassment for the Japanese in carrier production after Midway was their conversion of the Yamato class battleship Shinano into an exceptionally large but slow carrier (think "target") with an air group that was 2/3rds that of an "Essex" class fleet carrier. So really, the only "improved" carrier completed by Japan after Midway was the Taiho; and this could only be said to have replaced either the Hiryu or the Soryu, which were lost at Midway.

Had the four Japanese carriers lost at Midway been available at Guadalcanal, the Cactus Air Force would have been overwhelmed. Period. The American offensive in the Solomons, starting with Guadalcanal/Tulagi would not have been even attempted.
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