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Fortress Rabaul: The Battle for the Southwest Pacific, January 1942-April 1943
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Fortress Rabaul: The Battle for the Southwest Pacific, January 1942-April 1943

3.2 13
by Bruce Gamble
 

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For most of World War II, the mention of Japan's island stronghold sent shudders through thousands of Allied airmen. Some called it “Fortress Rabaul,” an apt name for the headquarters of the Imperial Japanese forces in the Southwest Pacific. Author Bruce Gamble chronicles Rabaul’s crucial role in Japanese

Overview


For most of World War II, the mention of Japan's island stronghold sent shudders through thousands of Allied airmen. Some called it “Fortress Rabaul,” an apt name for the headquarters of the Imperial Japanese forces in the Southwest Pacific. Author Bruce Gamble chronicles Rabaul’s crucial role in Japanese operations in the Southwest Pacific. Millions of square feet of housing and storage facilities supported a hundred thousand soldiers and naval personnel. Simpson Harbor and the airfields were the focus of hundreds of missions by American air forces.

Winner of the "Gold Medal" (Military Writers Society of America) and "Editor's Choice Award" (Stone & Stone Second World War Books), Fortress Rabaul details a critical and, until now, little understood chapter in the history of World War II.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

WORLD WAR II

"Using international sources, Gamble musters anecdotes from airmen on both sides to illustrate the appalling natural challenges and capricious weather, miserable living conditions, primal diseases, and frightful hazards posed by limitless spans of water and cloud-cloaked jungle peaks. He also incorporates incisive sketches of key leaders among the antagonists, notable American Maj. Gen. George Kenny and Japanese Vice Adm. Jinichi Kusaka, and underlines the logistical nightmares that rendered both aircraft and spare parts scarce for combatants locked in war at such distant reaches….Fortress Rabaul opens a broader vista on this under-studied campaign with its wide research, thoughtful analysis, and gifted story-teller’s panache.”

Col. Walter Boyne, USAF (Ret.), author of Clash of Wings
“This tour de force by Bruce Gamble is an absolute must for anyone interested in the true story of one of World War II’s most interesting—and most overlooked—battles. The author rivals Stephen Ambrose with his detailed personal accounts of not only victory and defeat, but also of the more routine events that entail quiet pride or—sometimes—suppressed embarrassment.”

Eric Hammel, author of Islands of Hell: The U.S. Marines in the Western Pacific
“Not for the first time, Bruce Gamble has done amazing work gathering a dazzling array of tiny, little facts, then arranging them in a big, dazzling story that amazes one's inner historian even as it breaks one's heart on its way to a triumphal conclusion.”

Barrett Tillman, author of Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan, 1942-1945

“To most of the reading public, the aerial siege of Rabaul remains one of the untold stories of the Pacific War. Nobody is better qualified than Bruce Gamble to relate that lengthy campaign, beginning with the first 15 months of the conflict. The depth and variety of his coverage is exceptional: not only the Allied and the Japanese perspectives, but the personalities and their attendant feuds; and ultimately the successful air blockade that released the unstoppable might of an industrialized America to take the war ever nearer Japan itself."

Anthony Tully, coauthor of Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway

“Continuing his theme of Rabaul opened in Darkest Hour: The True Story of Lark Force at Rabaul, Bruce Gamble now continues the saga, moving forward with the Japanese occupation in January 1942 to the almost immediate start of the Allied counter air-offensives against Rabaul. Gamble sets the stage magnificently, with a compelling description of the geography, volcanic origin and cultural setting and development level of Rabaul at the time of the Japanese occupation. After an excellent description of the too little, too late attempts to prepare for the Japanese invasion and the futile attempts to repel the powerful Japanese carrier strikes, the focus shifts to the Japanese construction at Rabaul that will make it the famous fortress port of the Solomons campaign. The human drama, Allied and Japanese, is enriched by skillfully placed anecdotes, like a botched demolition of an ammo dump by the Allied garrison to Japanese carrier aircraft having embarrassing results in bombing runs, to behind-the-scenes bickering of officers and staffs. The narrative reads with all the vigor and imagery of a novel, while incorporating copious facts and detail…Not only does Fortress Rabaul fill an important gap in the coverage of the Southwest section of the Pacific War, it makes fine and engaging reading.”

AIR CLASSICS
"Drawing on a variety of sources from both sides, the author has written a detailed reference book that reads like a novel.”

WWII HISTORY MAGAZINE
"...Fortress Rabaul opens a broader vista on this under-studied campaign with its wide research, thoughtful analysis, and gifted story-teller’s panache.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780760323502
Publisher:
Zenith Press
Publication date:
05/16/2010
Edition description:
First
Pages:
398
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Col. Walter Boyne, USAF (Ret.), author of Clash of Wings
“This tour de force by Bruce Gamble is an absolute must for anyone interested in the true story of one of World War II’s most interesting—and most overlooked—battles. The author rivals Stephen Ambrose with his detailed personal accounts of not only victory and defeat, but also of the more routine events that entail quiet pride or—sometimes—suppressed embarrassment.”

 

Eric Hammel, author of Islands of Hell: The U.S. Marines in the Western Pacific
“Not for the first time, Bruce Gamble has done amazing work gathering a dazzling array of tiny, little facts, then arranging them in a big, dazzling story that amazes one's inner historian even as it breaks one's heart on its way to a triumphal conclusion.”

 

AIR CLASSICS
"Drawing on a variety of sources from both sides, the author has written a detailed reference book that reads like a novel.”

 

WWII HISTORY MAGAZINE
"...Fortress Rabaul opens a broader vista on this under-studied campaign with its wide research, thoughtful analysis, and gifted story-teller’s panache.”

 

Barrett Tillman, author of Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan, 1942-1945

“To most of the reading public, the aerial siege of Rabaul remains one of the untold stories of the Pacific War.  Nobody is better qualified than Bruce Gamble to relate that lengthy campaign, beginning with the first 15 months of the conflict.  The depth and variety of his coverage is exceptional: not only the Allied and the Japanese perspectives, but the personalities and their attendant feuds; and ultimately the successful air blockade that released the unstoppable might of an industrialized America to take the war ever nearer Japan itself."

 

Anthony Tully, coauthor of Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway

“Continuing his theme of Rabaul opened in Darkest Hour: The True Story of Lark Force at Rabaul, Bruce Gamble now continues the saga, moving forward with the Japanese occupation in January 1942 to the almost immediate start of the Allied counter air-offensives against Rabaul. Gamble sets the stage magnificently, with a compelling description of the geography, volcanic origin and cultural setting and development level of Rabaul at the time of the Japanese occupation. After an excellent description of the too little, too late attempts to prepare for the Japanese invasion and the futile attempts to repel the powerful Japanese carrier strikes, the focus shifts to the Japanese construction at Rabaul that will make it the famous fortress port of the Solomons campaign. The human drama, Allied and Japanese, is enriched by skillfully placed anecdotes, like a botched demolition of an ammo dump by the Allied garrison to Japanese carrier aircraft having embarrassing results in bombing runs, to behind-the-scenes bickering of officers and staffs. The narrative reads with all the vigor and imagery of a novel, while incorporating copious facts and detail…Not only does Fortress Rabaul fill an important gap in the coverage of the Southwest section of the Pacific War, it makes fine and engaging reading.”

WORLD WAR II

"Using international sources, Gamble musters anecdotes from airmen on both sides to illustrate the appalling natural challenges and capricious weather, miserable living conditions, primal diseases, and frightful hazards posed by limitless spans of water and cloud-cloaked jungle peaks. He also incorporates incisive sketches of key leaders among the antagonists, notable American Maj. Gen. George Kenny and Japanese Vice Adm. Jinichi Kusaka, and underlines the logistical nightmares that rendered both aircraft and spare parts scarce for combatants locked in war at such distant reaches….Fortress Rabaul opens a broader vista on this under-studied campaign with its wide research, thoughtful analysis, and gifted story-teller’s panache.”

 

Meet the Author

Bruce Gamble is a retired naval flight officer and a former historian with the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. He is the author of several critically acclaimed books about the Pacific War: Swashbucklers and Black Sheep (2012), an illustrated combat history of Marine Fighting Squadron 214 in the Pacific; Black Sheep One, the definitive biography of Greg "Pappy" Boyington; Invasion Rabaul, the first book of the Rabaul trilogy; and Fortress Rabaul, the second book of the Rabaul trilogy. Bruce lives near Panama City, Florida. For more, visit www.brucegamble.com

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Fortress Rabaul: The Battle for the Southwest Pacific, January 1942-April 1943 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written, very good read ............ rjp
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kepgeek More than 1 year ago
Bruce Gamble's "Fortress Rabaul: The Battle for the Southwest Pacific, January 1942 - April 1943" is a magnificent and important work on this often neglected part of World War II. Mr. Gamble has paid the price in research. The accounts he collected from participants in the campaign, the US and Australian archives, and the official records of the US, Australian, and Japanese clarify and punctuate the events. You experience Rabaul and New Britain through his graphic description of the topography and weather. You get a clear understand of the volcanic origins of the Rabaul and the impact the volcanoes and volcanic activity to include earthquakes have on the land and inhabitants. Mr. Gamble does an excellent job telling the story. I read the book in one week while on vacation. I found it that compelling and entertaining. The author does an exceptional job telling the story. I was floored by the account of the bombing of the Komaki Maru. "The Komaki Maru shuddered under the impact of the two hits, which ignited the cargo of aviation fuel. 'A few seconds later,' recalled an Australian eyewitness, 'the ship was an inferno and the roar of the flames almost drowned out the screams of the Japanese trapped aboard.' The narrative reads with all the vigor and imagery of a novel. The chapter Medal of Honor: Lieutenant Edward H. "Butch" O'Hare reads like a Hollywood action movie. We learn the story of the man whose name graces O'Hare Airport in Chicago. We see how his action saved the USS Lexington and won him his nations highest military honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor. We learn the story of how he interposed his fighter between his ship and an advancing enemy formation of 9 attacking twin-engine heavy bombers. We see how without hesitation, alone and unaided, he repeatedly attacked this enemy formation, at close range in the face of intense combined machine gun and cannon fire. We find out that by his gallant and courageous action, his extremely skillful marksmanship in making the most of every shot of his limited amount of ammunition that he shot down 5 enemy bombers and severely damaged a sixth before they reached the bomb release point. As a result of his gallant action-one of the most daring, if not the most daring, single action in the history of combat aviation-he undoubtedly saved his carrier from serious damage. Other Medal of Honor stories like that of Harl Pease, Jr are include. The book is excellent. It is a must read for any military or aviation history buff. It would make a great addition to any community or university library.
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