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Neptune’s Inferno is at once the most epic and the most intimate account ever written of the contest for control of the seaways of the Solomon Islands, America’s first concerted offensive against the Imperial Japanese juggernaut and the true turning point of the Pacific conflict. This grim, protracted campaign has long been heralded as a Marine victory. Now, with his powerful portrait of the Navy’s sacrifice - three sailors died at sea for every man lost ashore - Hornfischer tells for the first time the full story of the men who fought in destroyers, cruisers, and battleships in the narrow, deadly waters of “Ironbottom Sound.” Here, in brilliant cinematic detail, are the seven major naval actions that began in August of 1942, a time when the war seemed unwinnable and America fought on a shoestring, with the outcome always in doubt. But at Guadalcanal the U.S. proved it had the implacable will to match the Imperial war machine blow for violent blow.
Working from new interviews with survivors, unpublished eyewitness accounts, and newly available documents, Hornfischer paints a vivid picture of the officers and enlisted men who took on the Japanese in America’s hour of need.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Robert B on 05-04-12
Desperate battles, well told
What was one of the most memorable moments of Neptune's Inferno?
The moments of the first battle
Have you listened to any of Robertson Dean’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
Dean did an excellent job. He is the right narrator for this book. Spot on.
Any additional comments?
For anyone that has a passing interest in naval history you must get this book. This was a pivotal moment in the Pacific. Not many people know about these battles and Hornfischer does an excellent job of telling them. This was where the navy blees more than the army or marines did. These were cutthroat battles at ranges that were pointblank. Two admirals were killed in combat during them. This is the battle where Halsey did his best work of the war.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
By KH on 02-05-11
Hornfischer does it again.
Just like The Last Stand Of The Tin Can Sailors, Hornfischer draws me into a sometimes chaotic battle, and this one far greater in scope and length than the previous, giving me just enough detail without losing the big picture. His descriptions aren't cumbersome or tedious but paint an epic of heroes, monstrous destructive machines and the struggles of men just like you and I. I've read several books on the Guadalcanal Campaign and Neptune's Inferno with ease, reveals the desperate situation the USA as well as the USN grappled with in the Summer of 1942. He made me yearn to hear more of the plight of the Marines and Cactus Airforce but gave enough to round out the telling and still stay focused. Perhaps in another book?
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Rick B on 03-06-18
Fantastic account of one of the largest but little appreciated (at least in the UK) Naval actions of WW2.
The narrator is however very monotone, which some may find difficult going.
By Andy on 06-06-14
How the US Navy fought for Guadalcanal
James Hornfischer has produced a brilliant account of the World War II US Navy in the Pacific theatre.
Moving back in time from the subject of his previous book 'The Last Stand of the Tin-can Sailors', Hornfischer on this occasion deals with how the US Navy fought for, and almost lost, the campaign for the Solomon Islands.
Hornfischer explains events at the strategic, tactical and individual level and, even if the lack of maps (the one big drawback of the audiobook version) is keenly felt in places, the writing is clear and the story easy to follow. He is also careful to explain the thoughts and motivations of the Japanese military as well as the reasons for their initial successes and subsequent failure to hold the island.
Although Guadalcanal is often seen as a marine corps affair (e.g. HBO's 'The Pacific'), Hornfischer's book made me realise just how much the ground troops relied on the navy and the sometimes severe consequences which resulted when they weren't present. He also successfully makes the case for the importance of the 'black shoe' navy, whose big guns, and bigger ships, have traditionally been regarded as an obsolescent when compared to the more celebrated carrier arm.
Robertson Dean's reading is impeccable (although his slightly stentorian style takes a little getting used to if you haven't heard one of his readings before) even if a few RAN warships have to suffer the American pronunciation of their names.
Really recommended if you are interested in WWII or naval history.