Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942

  • by Ian W. Toll
  • Narrated by Grover Gardner
  • 22 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Nominee, History, 2013
The planning, the strategy, the sacrifices and heroics - on both sides - illuminating the greatest naval war in history. 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.
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. Ian W. Toll's dramatic narrative encompasses both the high command and the "sailor's-eye" view from the lower deck. 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. The result is a pause-resistant history that does justice to the breadth and depth of a tremendous subject.


What the Critics Say

“An entertaining, impressively researched chronicle of the tense period between the bombing of Pearl Harbor and American victory at the battle of Midway....Toll gives everyone involved in the conflict a chance to speak, bringing readers into the command centers and cockpits to reveal the humanity of combatants on both sides of the Pacific.” (Kirkus)
“Revealing and poignant, Toll’s latest deftly navigates the rough waters of the Pacific struggle with flying colors.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Narrator Grover Gardner gives an applaudable narration of this detailed history of the Pacific Theater in WWII…Gardner presents the many historical details in this work with an easygoing pace and precise enunciation that quickly draw in the listener and never let go. Rather than affecting an accent for quotations, he adjusts his inflection slightly, which works well. Novices and history buffs will find this performance a treat and want to hear the continuation of the story.” (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Superb narrative history

I thought Tull's "Six Frigates" was just of average interest, but "Pacific Crucible" is leaps and bounds beyond that. It's just the kind of narrative history I love: the writer is willing to take time to explore the background and side stories at length without losing the momentum of the story. Tull takes the time to show how the American and Japanese navies came to be shaped and then demonstrates throughout his account of the clashes, beginning with Pearl Harbor and ending with Midway, between them. Like Max Hastings, Tull is adept at interweaving personal accounts with the larger historical view. To me, the ultimate test of an audiobook is whether I'm tempted away to listen to other things: in this case, I was held for over twenty hours without ever once experiencing that temptation. A terrific listen!
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- BB "Editor,"

Astonishingly good.

I have been reading about World War II for many years, but most of the books I have read cover the war in the European area – North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Poland and Russia. While I have read some books about the war in the Pacific (Stillwell and the American Experience in China, John Keegan’s World War II, Mitsuo Fuchitda’s Midway and some others) none have given a really good view of the war in the entire Pacific area. I bought this book thinking it might fill in some big holes in my knowledge and I was not disappointed.

While the book is concerned mainly about the first year or so of the Pacific war it actually begins with the history of the lead up to War War II starting with the period of the Russo-Japanese war and discusses, in some detail, the political movements in Japan during the period of 1920 through 1941. It provides a great deal of background by discussing events from both the American and Japanese view points and is very helpful in explaining how the Japanese military gained control over the civilian governments during this period and thus paved the way for the war with the US. Indeed one of the things that sets this book apart from others that I have read is that it provides an enormous amount of insight into what the Japanese thinking was both prior to and during the war and there is a great deal of information about things I never knew – the conflict between Japan’s Battleship and Aircraft Carrier officers, the strenuous efforts made by the Treaty Admirals in Japan to prevent war with the US, the reason for some of Japan’s tactical decisions during the conflict and the story (in detail) about the American breaking of some of the Japanese codes. While I thought I knew about the code breaking effort I realized, from this book, how little I knew of how it was done and what happened to the code breaking unit (and to Lt Cmdr Joseph Rochefort) before and after the battle. In addition the book is read by Grover Gardner who does a masterful job of narration. The book is so interesting and so well read that I found myself reluctant to stop listening.

This book is, in my estimate, one of the finest books covering the war that I have read. My only real complaint is that it covers the war only up to the Battle of Midway and I would buy any sequel covering the rest of the war in a heartbeat if it was available. I highly recommend this book if you have any interest in either the history leading up to the start of World War II in the Pacific or the events during the first year of the war.
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- Mike From Mesa "MikeFromMesa"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-08-2011
  • Publisher: Audible Studios