Pacific Crucible by Ian W. Toll
War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942

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Synopsis

“Both a serious work of history . . . and a marvelously readable dramatic narrative.”—San Francisco Chronicle


On the first Sunday in December 1941, an armada of Japanese warplanes appeared suddenly over Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and devastated the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Six months later, in a sea fight north of the tiny atoll of Midway, four Japanese aircraft carriers were sent into the abyss, a blow that destroyed the offensive power of their fleet. Pacific Crucible tells the epic tale of these first searing months of the Pacific war, when the U.S. Navy shook off the worst defeat in American military history and seized the strategic initiative.


This dramatic narrative, relying predominantly on eyewitness accounts and primary sources, is laced with riveting details of heroism and sacrifice on the stricken ships and planes of both navies. At the war’s outset, Japan’s pilots and planes enjoyed a clear-cut superiority to their American counterparts, but there was a price to be paid. Japanese pilots endured a lengthy and grueling training in which they were disciplined with baseball bats, often suffering broken bones; and the production line of the Zero— Japan’s superbly maneuverable fighter plane—ended not at a highway or railhead but at a rice paddy, through which the planes were then hauled on ox carts. Combat losses, of either pilots or planes, could not be replaced in time to match the fully mobilized American war machine.


Pacific Crucible also spotlights recent scholarship that revises our understanding of the conflict, including the Japanese decision to provoke a war that few in their highest circles thought they could win. Those doubters included the flamboyantly brilliant Admiral Isokoru Yamamoto, architect of the raid on Pearl and the Midway offensive.


Once again, Ian W. Toll proves himself to be a simply magnificent writer. The result here is a page-turning history that does justice to the breadth and depth of a tremendous subject.

 

About Ian W. Toll

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Ian W. Toll is an independent naval historian, the author of Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942 and Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy. Six Frigates won broad critical acclaim and was selected for the Samuel Eliot Morison Award, the William E. Colby Award, and New York Times "Editor's Choice" list. He lives in San Francisco.
 
Published November 14, 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company. 659 pages
Genres: History, War. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Toll (Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy, 2008, etc.) examines the forces moving behind the scenes—the trends in naval combat, complicated allegiances of American and Japanese politics, the military hierarchies and infighting that occurred between the combined forces—...

Sep 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Pacific Crucible: War at Sea ...

The New York Times

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The author of “Six Frigates” traces the war with Japan from Pearl Harbor to the Battle of Midway.

Nov 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Pacific Crucible: War at Sea ...

The Wall Street Journal

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By the late 1930s, the Japanese and U.S. navies were both spending large amounts on naval aviation, and, almost a year after Pearl Harbor, two of those "worse than useless" U.S. battleships were needed to help decisively defeat the Japanese at Guadalcanal by sinking two of their battleships.

| Read Full Review of Pacific Crucible: War at Sea ...

The Wall Street Journal

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By the late 1930s, the Japanese and U.S. navies were both spending large amounts on naval aviation, and, almost a year after Pearl Harbor, two of those "worse than useless" U.S. battleships were needed to help decisively defeat the Japanese at Guadalcanal by sinking two of their battleships.

Nov 26 2011 | Read Full Review of Pacific Crucible: War at Sea ...

Bookmarks Magazine

Relying predominantly on eyewitness accounts and primary sources, Pacific Crucible also spotlights recent scholarship that has revised our understanding of the conflict, including the Japanese decision to provoke a war that few in the country's highest circles thought they could win.

Nov 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Pacific Crucible: War at Sea ...

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