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Posted March 4, 2011
EMPHATICALLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
For a person who personally thought that he knew a lot about the war in the Pacific, I am humbled in my attitude about my knowledge of the subject. Having first read "Last Stand of the Tin Can Navy" because my wife gave it to me for a Christmas present, I was eager to jump into this book. I was not disappointed. There were moments while reading "Neptune's Inferno" I felt like jumping on top of my chair and screaming at the hierarchy of the Navy (not a good thing to do at 35000 ft on a crowded airplane) for decisions that nearly lost this battle, in what appeared to be in the name of the Naval Academy brotherhood on one hand, and leadership incompetence on the other. Incredible loss of American blood and treasure, that if not for the seamanship and determination of the junior officers and enlisted sailors actually in the battle for the sea around Guadalcanal, may have turned the battle into a major defeat for the U.S. and her Allies. Having 20/20 hindsight is great as I try to keep this in perspective, and am doing my best to not judge some of the leaders too harshly. But my gosh, it has to make you wonder what they were thinking. I have removed my rose colored glasses towards the military leadership of that time because of this book and am casting a more critical eye towards other events and the how and why's. The book is not so much an indictment of the Admirals, as much as it is a celebration of the American fighting man. Mr. Hornfischer provides extraordinary detail to allow the reader a vivid look into the past with excellent research through the records and personal interviews with survivors and families. The author has inspired me to read more and update my knowledge about this battle and others in the Pacific during WWII. I am hoping that he writes a book on the battle for Okinawa, as my father and father-in-law were both there, Navy and Army respectively, and have since passed away, unfortunately, before we could get more of the details of their experience. An excellent read
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Posted February 25, 2011
Gripping! A story of dedication and courage for the ages.
James D. Hornfischer's book Neptune's Inferno holds the reader from paragraph to paragraph, page to page, and chapter to chapter. It's a story of men doing their duty under conditions that would make most of us shake with terror. They are going into battle, each sealed in his own duty station, many below the water line, hearing all hell break loose all around them,feeling the ship shudder when struck by enemy fire, hearing the screams of the wounded,and going about their job. It is, in short, a stirring tribute to the American sailor of World War II. Set in the waters around Guadalcanal in late 1942, it tells the story of outgunned American cruisers and destroyers fighting more heavily armored and gunned Japanese forces attempting to dislodge American Marines from their positions around a a former Japanese airfield, now named Henderson field in a series of night battles. The waters in which the battles were fought became known as Iron Bottom Sound because of the large numbers of warships that went to their graves there. This is not a story of ships fighting each other at long range. They were often less than 100 yards apart, firing at point blank range.It was not always one formation against another. American vessels steamed into the center of Japanese formations and it quickly became a battle of one ship against another. It also features men who entered the history books, such as Admiral Yamamoto for Japan and Admiral "Bull" Halsey of the United States. Its real story however, is of heroic men fighting not only to sink Japanese vessels but simultaneously fighting to save their own badly damaged ships from sinking. Hornfischer provides graphic details of the epic battle to save the cruiser San Francisco and the losing battle to save the cruiser Helena. He tells of an American destroyer sailing so close to a Japanese battleship during a night battle that they were looking up at its main deck as they went by.The reader feels the sheer terror that could grip the men in such a a battle, but the reader also comes away from the story with a real appreciation of the heroism and dedication of the men who fought their ships. What really got to this reviewer was that the officers and men who fought these ships had no control over anything. The Admirals decided on the course of action, and the captains of the ships went where they were ordered to go. The men in the gun turrets, control centers and engine rooms and other parts of the ship were sealed in their compartments to preserve water right integrity, and those compartments could easily become, and some did become, their coffins. As a World War II and Korean War Army veteran, at least I could look around and see what was happening. I could even make minor decisions. These men had none of those options. They simply did their duty. God bless them !!
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 4, 2011
WWII Naval History at its Best
Hornfischer captures in very readble fashion, the complex South Pacific naval battles between the US Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy in late 1942. The well researched 400+ page account captures the military, human,logistical details of this multi-month conflict that is probably the largest such naval encounter.
The author of Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors and Ship of Ghosts has done it again with another literary gem rounding out his personal WWII Pacific Naval trilogy that is essential for any home naval library.
5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 16, 2011
For those interested in naval history, this book is a must. It provides great detail without reading like a textbook. In fact, it reads more like a blow by blow account of a heavy weight fight. Readers may find it difficult to put down,and, find themselves hungry for more by the end.
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 11, 2011
I Also Recommend:
A new standard in naval literature
There are two things that I may say of a James Hornfischer book since he burst onto the naval literature scene in 2004 with The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors. First, the book will be as well researched and documented as any I've seen and second, it will be historical data that has been rigorously examined, augmented by many first person accounts and newly obtained material, and crafted into an imminently readable volume that reads like a thriller. Such a book was his first. His second, Ship of Ghosts, has even made Hornfischer a member of the USS HOUSTON (CA-30) Association's extended family.
Now comes his third naval history book, Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal. There have been several books, many of them very good, on the half-year-long battle in 1942 for that island but they focus on the Marines and their engagements ashore. For the first time there is a book that examines the entire campaign from the perspective of the navy. There were several engagements during the period, some decided losses for the Americans and Hornfischer describes not only the events but the underlying reasons. He takes us through lessons learned as the American Navy, still moribund from the inactivity of the interwar years and the Depression, comes to life in the heat of battle.
Taking each battle in turn, Hornfischer educates the reader without seeming to do so. We are being entertained by history; more than that we are enthralled with the stories he so deftly weaves as history becomes alive and real to the extent that I almost expected to feel salt spray on my face.
From the understanding of the need to stop the Japanese advance at a point where Allied forces would have a real place to start the war, to the departure of the last Japanese evacuees when Guadalcanal was safely in American hands, every aspect of the campaign is presented in a fresh and compelling way: a history that is a page-turner.
James Hornfischer fans will not be disappointed. If anything, the bar he set so high with The Last Stand has been raised and all future naval historical literature will be improved as a result.
4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 5, 2011
This was the most in depth book I have read about the sea battles around Guadalcanal. The subject interests me because I have an uncle that was onboard the Helena when it was sunk, and like many vets he doesn't talk about the experience. This book didn't cover that action because it was after the timeline for the book, but it does give me an idea of what led up to that sinking. Mr Hornfischer's book "Ship of Ghosts" is also what got me to read this one, also an excellent read.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 28, 2012
Best of class
"Highly recommend, must read, couldn't put it down" are all overused but in this case spot on. I was a little reluctant to buy this book because my interest in naval history is a recent thing and not as well developed as military aviation, which is where my true interest and experience usually takes me, but I don't know how many times while reading this book I found myself saying "this book is worth every penny of it's cost" (not something I usually find myself saying lately) and "this book should be required reading by every American citizen." So good I searched everything I could find by Hornfischer and I'm working my way through them all. It's that good.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 4, 2012
Ginger on December 4, 2012
Read this book in 2 days. Second book that I've read by him. Last Stand of the Tin Cans was the first. Another 2 day read. Can't wait for his next. Good writer. Great reads.
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Posted August 5, 2014
Posted March 21, 2014
Posted March 14, 2014
Highly recommend the read by real book, not the Nook version
James Hornfischer does an excellent job of fleshing out the background of the many naval battles fought in Iron Bottom Sound. I highly recommend his book. The Nook version failed in the reproduction of the battle maps, which were extremely tiny and blurry when a magnifying glass was used. I am disappointed in the Nook book's failure to spend more time developing this very important part of this story.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 14, 2014
Highly recommended, enthralling and compelling!
One of the most interesting and fact filled books detailing a major yet little documented battle of World War II. Not only does it lay out the fiasco resulting from inept leadership both in Washington and in the Pacific arena, it also gives specific background details leading up to this historical event. The reader will learn that based on our protocol, the United States should have lost this war. Only through the tenacity of and sacrifices made by the sailors, soldiers and marines were we able to overcome these shortcomings in leadership. "Neptune's Inferno" is a glowing example of what happens when any nation becomes so absorbed in control that it loses the ability to look for a newer, better and more efficient way of operating its military as well as an excellent example of egos getting in the way of success by not listening to men in the field as they developed better approaches and improvements to communications. It truly is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the effectiveness, or lack thereof, the U.S. Navy exuded during World War II. On a personal note, having had a father and four uncles engaged in this battle, James Hornfisher captured the emotions and frustrations felt by each and every participant. It was as if I, the reader, was with each of them.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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Posted March 25, 2012
Great Book. Very educational.
I enjoyed this book very much. After many years of reading about this time period of Naval and Marine history, I've learned so much more reading this book. The links also so greatly explained in depth, the damage to the US and Japanses Battleships. Excellent.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 3, 2012
I have read Hornfischer's 3 military history books. I can't wai
I have read Hornfischer's 3 military history books. I can't wait until he writes another one. I would like to see him follow this book up with severl more on the next series of the Islanding hopping campaign to win the war in the pacific. I read mostly military history and this book was exceptional. The eye witness accounts, detailed descriptions during battle, and the duty f rom Marines and the Navy are exceptionally depicted. I like how not all characters are put in a positive, sugar coated manner. Well worth the read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 13, 2012
Vivid Detail and Scope
As an avid reader of history books, this one captured my attention due to the focus on the US Navy. I found the book fascinating! Page after page was filled with detail and insight into a battle that was constantly in doubt. To see the ebb and flow of punch and counter punch as both sides tried to come up with the winning combination, made the book flow quickly. I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking more understadning of the beginning of the fighting war in the Pacific.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.