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Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway Paperback – Illustrated, November 1, 2007
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 3.05 pounds
- Paperback : 640 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1574889249
- ISBN-13 : 978-1574889246
- Product Dimensions : 6.9 x 1.6 x 9.9 inches
- Publisher : Potomac Books; Illustrated Edition (November 1, 2007)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #33,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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If you are interested in WWII and/or the battle at Midway, you should read "Shattered Sword"; research done by Tully and Parshall find that Fuchida's account was written and strongly biased for public consumption. It was less than honest at best, and known to be so by Japanese sources. You will be disabused of several fantasies, none of which diminish the importance of the battle: It marked the end of Japan's expansion in the North Pacific. At Guadalcanal, the Japanese offensive was halted in the South Pacific and not long after in New Guinea. Within 6 months, the Nazis found the end of their tether at both Stalingrad and in Africa; the Axis was thereafter on the defensive; the war was decided. Sadly, the Axis demanded millions of more deaths to be convinced.
Tully and Parshall are nothing if not thorough in their research; the Japanese losses at Midway had nothing to do with 'planes not launched from the flight deck' (as Fuchida has it), the losses had to do with carrier operations, carrier design and the unrelenting (if, until the end, futile) US attacks on the Japanese carrier forces: By the time of the dive-bomber attacks, "Like blood from a wounded patient - time the lifeblood of decision and action - had been oozing out of Kido Butai all morning, slowly and inexorably. Now the patient was beyond recovery" (pg 231).
What follows hopes to be the specific credit for the bombs which demolish the Japanese carriers, the futile attempts to save them and a more accurate report of how they ended up on the bottom; the later two pathos, to be sure.
The battle didn't end with the sinking of the Hiryu, and the remaining sinkings (on both sides) are not ignored. Similarly, the importance of the battle is examined, and in my opinion, properly defined; it did not end the war in the Pacific. It ended Japan's attempt to expand in that direction.
Like Frank's "Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle" and "Downfall", if you presume to be educated about Midway, you must read this.
Shattered Sword presents a new way of looking at the Battle of Midway. It is well researched and well documented with extensive endnotes and a lengthy bibliography. It is detailed yet captivating. Most of all, it presents strong arguments, backs up those arguments with documented sources, and effectively turns the traditional narrative of the Battle of Midway on its ear. The authors explore doctrine, strategy, planning, and tactics from the Japanese perspective; in doing so, they don't just challenge the conventional wisdom about the battle and its after effects; to borrow from the title, it shatters them.
To put it mildly, this book is not what I thought it was. It is not a dry academic work, it is well written in a witty, conversational style. You're not only getting a completely new understanding of the battle, you're being entertained. It truly is hard to put this book down. Very seldom do you come across a book that presents an all-new way of looking at a historical event, but this book fits that bill. I've purposely not included any of Shattered Swords' conclusions in order not to spoil the book. Buy it read it, you won't be disappointed and you'll come away with a whole new understanding of one of World War II's important battles. I also think that those interested in military history can come away with important lessons, one of them being not to apply one side's doctrine and operational practices to its opponent, analyze both sides' actions in the light of their respective doctrines. It's helpful to have about the Battle of Midway previously and have an understanding of how the US Navy fought the battle, but this truly is a five-star book and one that anyone interested in the Pacific Theater of World War II must read.
It's not an easy read, though the authors write well. But the level of detail (especially, the great differences in how the Japanese built and fought their carriers) makes it a task for the serious student.
Top reviews from other countries
They give a very exciting account from the Japanese point of view. I liked the way they have the confidence to address the reader, anticipating what the reader might have been expecting. You get a vivid feeling of what it must have been like to be on a Japanese carrier, and the reasons for the errors which they made. I particularly enjoyed the individual details of the Japanese personnel In fact, it would be possible to have a lot of sympathy for the Japanese were it not for the gratuitous cruelty in the way they treated prisoners. Rescued pilots were, after interrogation, tied to oil drums and thrown into the sea. You can find this out in the notes at the end.
One of their biggest mistakes seems to have been to underestimate the enemy. Yamamoto emerges as a dictatorial planner who would not listen to opposition or criticism. I enjoyed the account of the war game played on the Yamato where one of the players attacked in the same ways the Americans were to attack, and was overruled by the umpire. The internal politics between the services seems to have been more important than defeating the enemy – for a moment General Tojo, the prime minister, was ‘waspishly satisfied’ when he heard of the naval defeat. Their doctrine seems to have been hopeless, and while the Americans were inexperienced and could not coordinate their attacks, their doctrine was far more flexible than that of the Japanese.
What is equally striking was the Japanese habit of imagining that the enemy would do what they wanted them to do. These assumptions coloured their interpretation of infrequent and often inadequate reconnaissance reports, and the book makes this very clear. The final two chapters about why the Japanese lost, and how the myths about the battle arose, are particularly effective.
The maps and diagrams in the book are excellent and make it easy to follow complicated movements and attacks.
The best book I have bought in a long time
On second thought having finished the book, I would say it is in my top 3 books of all time
It examins, the carriers of the US and Japan, their performance, and of
course the differing fighting techniques used by both fleets.
Reading this, shows just how vital was the ten centimetre Radar on the
US ships. The Japanese discovered the early magnetron, the yagi antennae
the British improved on them, and passed them to the US.
An excellent book on Carriers and their aircraft, together with operating proceedure