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Blue Skies and Blood: The Battle of the Coral Sea Paperback – February 25, 2003
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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About the Author
Edwin P. Hoyt, a historian and veteran of World War II, and has written over 150 books. His work has appeared in the Denver Post, Collier's, American Heritage, and CBS News.
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Hoyt's book, like most of his books, is not the product of deep and exhaustive research into dusty old sources. They are eesentially rewritten ships' logs, maps and actions taken from the official histories, with a few (sometimes relevant, sometimes not) personal diaries, occasional interviews thrown in. What emerges is the type of popular history that is long on you-are-there detail for individual actions, a witness to specific flights or actions or strafing runs...while unfortunatrly often overlooking or glossing over the overall strategic or operational planning and the background for what took place. There were an awful lot of these books written in the 60s and 70s for the mass paperback market.
Some sources are of questionable value. Hoyt spends some time on the diary of the Japanese soldier who fell at Guadalcanal, but whose diary has nothing to do with actions in the Coral Sea (because he wasn't there, instead being with the army on Java). There are no real other sources from a Japanese point of view in the book, a real weakness. Others - official US Navy sources - are far better, allowing for precise details on ship locations and movements, and some maps with the text.
Overall, if you find this for 25c at a garage sale, it won't hurt much; but it is hardly the last or best, most authoritztive statement on the Battle of the Coral Sea. Look elsewhere.
If you query Amazon.Com you will find that Edwin P. Hoyt has written some 80+ books, many dealing with naval battles and some with infantry warfare. He has also written biographies, e.g. President Grover Cleveland and President James A. Garfield.
In this book, he deals with the Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942; he has dedicated the book to Admiral Arleigh Burke, who made his reputation with destroyers in the South Pacific. Coral Sea was the first sea battle in which the opposing vessels never sighted their enemies and in which aircraft did all the damage. Just as the Battle of Lepanto (1571) signaled the change in sea power from galleys (rowed by men) to sailing vessels, the Battle of the Coral Sea marked the switch from the big guns to air power.
Using official documents of both the U.S. Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy, Edwin Hoyt has produce a well-written record of what went on in the Coral Sea, just north of Australia . The author also relied upon interviews with war correspondent, Stanley Johnson, who was "embedded", as we now say, on board the USS Lexington. Stanley Johnson wrote the book, "Queen Of The Flat Tops", (1942). It seems to me, that while Hoyt has an excellent ability to recount and interpret the battle's historical facts, the author is also able to bring alive the persons who actually were involved. Their experiences become vivid in his writing.
The author has paid particular attention to Navy tanker, "Neosho" and her escort, the destroyer "Sims", which were sunk by IJN aircraft as a prelude to sinking of the "USS Lexington" and the Japanese carrier, "Shoho". I get the impression that Mr. Hoyt considers the Battle of the Coral Sea to be just as important as the naval battle of Midway, June 1942, in which four IJN aircraft carriers were sunk. At various places in the book, Hoyt makes the points that Coral Sea was the first sea battle in the opponents used only carrier aircraft, it was the first sea battle in which the Japanese were set back, if not defeated, and Coral Sea stopped the bombing of and the impending invasion of Australia by Japanese forces.
This book is not only an excellent historical record of the events, but it also makes alive the participants, from the lowliest seaman to the admirals.