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.

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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

A detailed review of the first years of the war

Any additional comments?

Pacific Crucible is a wonderful blend of history and personal accounts. Although the book is obviously factual, it provides the types of interesting details into certain people's lives that made it feel like a story.
Do realize, however, that the book details Pearl Harbor through Midway Island only, and does not go further into the Pacific conflict. That should not stop you though. The book provides great detail into the main battles, and main commanders of the Pacific front during this time of the war.
I have listened to quite a few books on this period, and have quickly become a fan of Toll and his works. I highly recommend this book.

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- Ryan

Exciting as a thriller, even knowing what happens

This book focuses, with some historical digressions, on the naval war in the Pacific from Pearl Harbor to Midway. If you are a WWII history buff, you have heard the story before, many times, but this still manages to be a fresh and exciting take, with lots of new insights.

Many of these insights are generated because of the way that the author deftly shifts among the perspectives of the Japanese and American sides. Toll manages to bring in many historical figures, never focusing on one for too long: Churchill and Roosevelt, Nimitz and Halsey, Yamamoto and Hirohito; as well as lesser known characters, from code breakers to airmen. Very little of the writing is speculative, instead he draws on the words and records of these people to weave a seamless account of the war.

As a result, he manages to produce the best account I have read about the chaotic way in which Japan came to enter the war, not because of the charismatic Fascism that motivated Italy and Germany, but rather through many small acts of nationalist rebellion. The same approach allows Toll to give the listener a better perspective on how and why strategy evolved the way it did on both sides, both in a grand sense, but also in the individual battles. It is terrifically illuminating.

It is also remarkably engaging. Toll manages, using the words of people who were there, to explain what it was like on a diver bomber plunging at 80 degrees towards a carrier, or to be inside a burning ship, or to be a frustrated commander trying to get an air wing to take off on time. Even though I had read a lot about this phase of the conflict, I was both riveted and managed to learn a lot.

Gardner reads it all in a friendly manner, and I stayed up late listening on more than one occasion. Highly recommended if you like military history, or even just any narrative history done right.
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- Ethan M.

Book Details

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