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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.
27 of 27 people found this review helpful
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!
26 of 26 people found this review helpful