The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History)

  • by Craig L. Symonds
  • Narrated by James Lurie
  • 14 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

There are few moments in American history in which the course of events tipped so suddenly and so dramatically as at the Battle of Midway. At dawn of June 4, 1942, a rampaging Japanese navy ruled the Pacific. By sunset, their vaunted carrier force (the Kido Butai) had been sunk, and their grip on the Pacific had been loosened forever.
In this absolutely riveting account of a key moment in the history of World War II, one of America's leading naval historians, Craig L. Symonds, paints an unforgettable portrait of ingenuity, courage, and sacrifice. Symonds begins with the arrival of Admiral Chester A. Nimitz at Pearl Harbor after the devastating Japanese attack and describes the key events leading to the climactic battle, including both Coral Sea - the first battle in history against opposing carrier forces - and Jimmy Doolittle's daring raid of Tokyo. He focuses throughout on the people involved, offering telling portraits of Admirals Nimitz, Halsey, Spruance, and numerous other Americans, as well as the leading Japanese figures, including the poker-loving Admiral Yamamoto. Indeed, Symonds sheds much light on the aspects of Japanese culture - such as their single-minded devotion to combat, which led to poorly armored planes and inadequate fire-safety measures on their ships - that contributed to their defeat.
The author's account of the battle itself is masterful, weaving together the many disparate threads of attack - attacks which failed in the early going - that ultimately created a five-minute window in which three of the four Japanese carriers were mortally wounded, changing the course of the Pacific war in an eye-blink.
Symonds is the first historian to argue that the victory at Midway was not simply a matter of luck, pointing out that Nimitz had equal forces, superior intelligence, and the element of surprise. Nimitz had a strong hand, Symonds concludes, and he rightly expected to win.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

You may knock US down, but you can't knock US out

Would you listen to The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History) again? Why?

Absolutely. I had already planned on doing that when I was still listening. There is simply too much information to fully absorb at one time. I've studied Midway in the past and each time I learn more about how close we were to the edge, but how those who fought there never felt defeated.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Not a character because this is non-fiction, but my most heroic person, individually, would be Lt. Commander John C. Waldron of VT-8. A real life leader and hero.

Which scene was your favorite?

None. This was a horrible, but necessary event in history.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes the story of all of the torpedo squadrons and their attacks, but in particular the attack by squadron eight (VT-8) from the U.S.S. Hornet; this piece of history get's me every time. Here were 15 aircraft each carrying three young men in the prime of life. They didn't want to be there and they didn't want to die. Despite that and knowing full well they were outgunned, without fighter air cover, without dive bomber help for a coordinated attack, and flying slow obsolete aircraft; they went in on their attack runs. They knew the odds were heavily against them, but they brought the planes down low, slow and straight and pressed forward their attack. Each in turn. And they were slaughtered. Only one man survived the attack and none of their torpedoes did any damage to the enemy ships. That is real honor and heroism; not that stuff the enemy was shoveling.

Any additional comments?

I actually liked the narrator. His voice, inflection and cadence were appropriate for the telling of this story.

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- Matthew

A unique tale of tactical wars

Most history books talk about wars a lot, but they tend to focus on the strategic decisions, those big decisions that change the course of a war, like a major military offensive, the supply channels, the number of troops or equipment commandeered, etc.

This book is very different in that it is about the tactical detail of one military operation. For this reason it is also unique and I recommend to anyone who is interested about how war really work, on the field. For example, the general story about Midway is that the Japanese did not know that the aircraft carriers would be there and were taken by surprise. But what does it mean to be taken by surprise? Didn't they have their own carriers (and more of them) if the US carriers were actually on site? The tactical side explains that a single bomb will sink a carrier and that, silly enough, the Japanese had indicated their position as a result of a ship chasing a US submarine, that they had sent many of their attack planes on a raid instead of against the US carriers, that they couldn't even locate the latter, and that they had armed their bombs up on the carrier making them even more vulnerable.

These are just many things that emerge from the tactical analysis, but there is much more interesting tale about how specific individuals did affect the entire operation, another testimony to the importance of just one person for an entire war.

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- Jeremy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-22-2012
  • Publisher: Audible Studios