- Paperback: 656 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (November 26, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393343413
- ISBN-13: 978-0393343410
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 599 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942 1st Edition
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“An entertaining, impressively researched chronicle of the tense period between the bombing of Pearl Harbor and American victory at the battle of Midway.”
“Revealing and poignant, Toll’s latest deftly navigates the rough waters of the Pacific struggle with flying colors.”
- Publishers Weekly
“Excellent. 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.”
- Roland Green, Booklist (starred review)
“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.”
- Library Journal
“Toll’s book does a good job of capturing strategy, tactics, weaponry and, especially, people, on the Japanese side as well as the American…You won’t set [Pacific Crucible] aside.”
- Harry Levins, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
About the Author
Ian W. Toll is the author of Pacific Crucible, The Conquering Tide, and Six Frigates, winner of the Samuel Eliot Morison Award and the William E. Colby Award. He lives in San Francisco and New York.
Top customer reviews
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Toll is a good writer. His style is similar to Atkinson's in that in includes extra details that add perspective. For example, a description of the Japanese planes flying so low over Honolulu, that the Americans on the ground saw the pilots faces covered by "their cats eye flying goggles".
Toll does a fairly good job at keeping the narrative level at 10,000 feet. Modern war involves men, machines, doctrine, politics and strategy. Toll's story dips into all of these, but never too deeply. Politics and some doctrine are mainly through the focus of President Roosevelt and the Hirohito (the Japanese emperor). Mahan's contribution to the footings of the combatants doctrine and strategy is emphasized. The compare and contrast between American and Japanese warfighting was instructive. I would have appreciated a deep dive into the strengths and weaknesses of the American Navy's pre-war organization. There seemed to be more of an emphasis on the Japanese weaknesses . The thumbnail description of the Japanese A6M Zero was particularly good for aircraft technology. Naval vessels and evolving marine technology get less attention. Strategy comes later with the rise of Halsey, Spruance, and Nimitz vs. Yamamoto and Nugamo.
If I find fault with this book, it's that it does not cover the submarine campaign at all. There are a few scant references to submarine reconnaissance. There are also a few oblique references to the notorious 'Torpedo Problem' that plagued the fleet at the beginning of the war. However, compared to the carrier actions, there is nothing on the beginning of the submarine actions against the Japanese by boats based out of Australia and Hawaii. In addition, Japanese submarine campaign has never been documented well, at least not in English language publications. Its not documented here either.
This book was very readable. It's a good beginner to intermediate introduction to the beginning of the naval war in the Pacific. This book is part of a trilogy. This is the first book. I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series "The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942-1944". The third book in the series is supposed to be published in 2018.
Readers of this book might find reading books like Toland's "The Rising Sun: The Decline & Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-45" likewise interesting. Although, that book is dryer than this one. "Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan" may be helpful in making up for lack of coverage of the submarine campaign.
Ian W. Toll is a gifted writer. He manages to plug in interesting details, gluing the reader to the page. While most of these tidbits are not of immense importance, they are exactly what makes reading history fascinating. Mr. Toll moves a story along at speed, avoiding wording and phrasing leading to boredom. Pacific Crucible and The Conquering Tide are appealing as fact based books and as compelling stories.
Pacific Crucible begins at Pearl Harbor and explains Japanese decision making behind the raid. The author points out how the attack impacted the Japanese command structure, a detail often omitted in other histories. Ian Toll carefully points out that the main targets of Yamamoto’s attack were the American aircraft carriers, none of which were in port. He also describes the main Japanese offensive moves into Southeast Asia, which secured the oil and other military necessities for Japan. All this is done in a fast moving style that leaves the reader anticipating the next sentence.
The author is even handed in his evaluation of the leaders on both sides. Yamamoto’s attack plan was good, but far from perfect. The American military leaders General Short and Admiral Kimmel were unjustly charged with dereliction of duty in the defense of Pearl Harbor, even though they certainly made mistakes. Admiral King is evaluated well and his faults are disclosed along with his ability to lead the Navy in a tough time. All the leaders Mr. Toll discusses, Japanese and American, are approached with respect as well as an opened eyed realism.
The Conquering Tide tells the story of the Pacific War after Guadalcanal and details how the Japanese were defeated by American ingenuity, bravery, and industrial power. It is clear that the Japanese were hampered by pre-set conclusions concerning how the war would be fought and how the Americans would fail in the face of the spiritual superiority of their enemies. The Japanese leadership was stunned by the speed of the American advance across the Pacific, and the power of the Pacific Fleet by the end of 1943. Ian Toll tells us of the many false assumptions made by Japan and the helplessness felt by the population as their leaders became oppressive and outright stupid in their handling of the people during the war.
Like any author telling any story Ian Toll has his failings. All major battles are covered, most not in deep detail; however, some events, such as the first few voyages of the Wahoo, are reported in extreme detail. In other cases, Mr. Toll fails to adequately discuss items that were important to the Pacific theater of war. The horrible failure of Admiral King to adopt the convoy system at the outset of war, and its costs, are not well explained and lost to the reader. The story of American torpedo failures is split up and difficult to follow.
In this old warrior’s opinion, the author is too soft on some of the personalities he reviews. MacArthur is one example. He changed War Plan Orange and adopted junk in its place, and his superiors in Washington allowed it. Why? After the outright debacle following Pearl Harbor and the complete destruction of US air power in the Philippines, with consequences at least as bad as Pearl Harbor, he stayed in command. Why? Mr. Toll does complain about MacArthur, but he does not tell us he was incompetent. In fact, he more or less defends MacArthur’s leadership. It is the same with several other leaders. Mr. Toll gives them the benefit of the doubt too often.
I enjoyed both books and highly recommend them for anyone interested in World War II in the Pacific
Most recent customer reviews
Very informative and entertaining. You won't be disappointed.
I’ve read many books about the Second World War, I don’t recall many other authors (with the notable exception of Max Hastings) who can...Read more