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Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942 Hardcover – November 14, 2011
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The research is thorough, the writing clear, and the narrative flow exemplary...it is difficult to think of a recent book on this subject that is of such consistently outstanding value. (Booklist)
Well documented―albeit from previously published materials―and well written. Experienced World War II history buffs may bypass if they feel no need to read another retelling of this phase of the Pacific War, but nonspecialists and general readers will want to consider it. (LibraryJournal.com)
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The events and much of the material Toll uses to describe them will be familiar to students of the period. What makes Toll's book such a pleasurable read is the quality of his narrative style and his superb judgment in deciding which items to include and how to arrange them. His perceptive prologue and his portraits of the key players are quite good as well. The prologue in particular offers a worthwhile explanation of how quickly Japan caught up with the western world and then was fatally tempted to subdue it.
In addition, I found Toll's description of the Battle of the Coral Sea fresh and comprehensive. This important battle is often relegated to a passing mention as the prelude to Midway, but Toll corrects that oversight. His recounting of the role intelligence played in the ultimate defeat of the Japanese also goes well beyond that provided in other books on the subject. Among other things, I had not considered the value of Halsey's raids in the early months of 1942 to the cryptologists - the resulting increase in Japanese radio traffic helped to identify locations, ships, and even officers.
There are a few glitches. The International Date Line is not northeast of Oahu, and the term "shuttle bombing" is misused. I also tired of the numerous references to pilots as "flyboys." After several odd references to "fuel tankers," Toll labels these ships with the more familiar term "fleet oilers." These are very minor complaints, however, and should not deter anyone from acquiring this highly recommended book.
The "Pacific Crucible" starts out with a brilliant account of the Mahan tactics,which helps establish his point of how a sailor from the 1850's would be more accustomed to the life aboard a ship in the 1600's than in the 1900's. This is continued by the detailed descriptions of the political situations that developed the conflict on both fronts. The, Toll delves into a graphic and violent account of the day that has lived in infamy for over 70 years.
I was enlightened at how Chruchill convinced Roosevelt that a Europe first strategy was more important than committing to a Pacific campaign, and the descriptions of how the Japanese military converted their society for war brought their ultimate demise.
The naval battles were done in an informative and exciting fashion. For those that claim that history is dull, I recommend that they read a Toll book.
My one complaint about the book is that the ending felt somewhat rushed. Toll concludes the Battle of Midway, and then after a several pages briefly proving Admiral Yamamoto's early predictions of how war with the United States would end, the book ends itself. I was expecting more regarding the rest of the war, but since the book was primarily about the major naval actions of the Pacific, it was understandable, seeing how the subtitle of the book states it only accounts from 1941-1942.
Overall, a five star rating barely does this magnificent book justice. I certainly hope that Toll is working on another project.
The book also contains mini-biographies of men such as Yamamoto, Nimitz, and King which are succinct but very clear. The review of political events leading to war are also well done. Although this expression is probably overused, the book does read like a novel.
The above is only a small representation of the book which is very much worth your while. I do not think you will be disappointed.
To be honest I'm not a history buff nor fanatically interested in WWII or the Pacific Theatre (although as an Australian, I probably should be). But once again, Ian Toll's gripping writing has me keen to finish work today and get home to find out what happened to the overwhelmed lads on Wake Atoll, surrounded by Japanese and abandoned by a shell shocked naval leadership in Hawaii.
And pardon my complete ignorance, but Yamamoto went to Harvard and Nimitz spoke fluent german... It's a funny world. The portrait of Yamamoto is fascinating. He's more than a likable character.
Two books in, the author is fast creating a Toll trademark for combining enormous research and a gripping story telling ability.
I'll update this review when I've finished. I almost want to read it slowly and enjoy it for longer. You know he won't be back with his next book for few years. So five chapters in and I can't put it down. He's done it again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book, well written, and very interesting to me. Even though I knew how many of the battles would update be won or lost, Toll does a fabulous job of keeping you in... Read morePublished 4 days ago by alex oliver
This is Toll's first in a to be trilogy of the US involvement in the Pacific War of WWII. Read it! You will learn much and greatly enjoy this fast moving and spell binding... Read morePublished 22 days ago by Darla B.
Another fantastic book by Ian Toll! I own both the hardback and the Audible versions and am extremely impressed with the narration of the audio book. Read morePublished 27 days ago by William D Thompson
Superbly researched and written in crisp, incisive prose, Pacific Crucible is a volume that holds its own in a field of enormous depth. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ron Vincent
Exceptionally well written and the audible version is so compelling as to never stop listening.Published 1 month ago by Dennis D. Benson
One of the absolute best books on the Pacific theatre in WWII I've had the pleasure to read. If you liked Atkinson's trilogy on the European theatre, you'll find this book (the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jugjock
Excellent book which goes far beyond the normal historical novel. In-depth analysis of major military leaders and battle preparations. Read morePublished 1 month ago by R. Duenow