Joe Rochefort's War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway

Joe Rochefort's War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway

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by Elliot Carlson, USN (Ret.), Rear Adm. Donald "Mac" Showers
     
 

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Elliot Carlson’s award-winning biography of Capt. Joe Rochefort is the first to be written about the officer who headed Station Hypo, the U.S. Navy’s signals monitoring and cryptographic intelligence unit at Pearl Harbor, and who broke the Japanese navy’s code before the Battle of Midway. The book brings Rochefort to life as the irreverent,

Overview


Elliot Carlson’s award-winning biography of Capt. Joe Rochefort is the first to be written about the officer who headed Station Hypo, the U.S. Navy’s signals monitoring and cryptographic intelligence unit at Pearl Harbor, and who broke the Japanese navy’s code before the Battle of Midway. The book brings Rochefort to life as the irreverent, fiercely independent, and consequential officer that he was. Readers share his frustrations as he searches in vain for Yamamoto’s fleet prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but share his joy when he succeeds in tracking the fleet in early 1942 and breaks the code that leads Rochefort to believe Yamamoto’s invasion target is Midway. His conclusions, bitterly opposed by some top Navy brass, are credited with making the U.S. victory possible and helping to change the course of the war. The author tells the story of how opponents in Washington forced Rochefort’s removal from Station Hypo and denied him the Distinguished Service Medal recommended by Admiral Nimitz. In capturing the interplay of policy and personality and the role played by politics at the highest levels of the Navy, Carlson reveals a side of the intelligence community seldom seen by outsiders.

For a full understanding of the man, Carlson examines Rochefort’s love-hate relationship with cryptanalysis, his adventure-filled years in the 1930s as the right-hand man to the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet, and his return to codebreaking in mid-1941 as the officer in charge of Station Hypo. He traces Rochefort’s career from his enlistment in 1918 to his posting in Washington as head of the Navy’s codebreaking desk at age twenty-five, and beyond. In many ways a reinterpretation of Rochefort, the book makes clear the key role his codebreaking played in the outcome of Midway and the legacy he left of reporting actionable intelligence directly to the fleet. An epilogue describes efforts waged by Rochefort’s colleagues to obtain the medal denied him in 1942—a drive that finally paid off in 1986 when the medal was awarded posthumously.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Elliot Carlson’s Joe Rochefort’s War is one of the most important books on the Pacific War to appear in many years. It is nothing less than a tour de force. Never before has the complicated story of U. S. naval codebreaking in the opening phase of the war been told so fully and so well, and in such a fair and judicious fashion. It is absolutely essential for a fuller understanding of the terrible surprise at Pearl Harbor and the rapid resurgence of the Pacific Fleet that culminated in the decisive victory at Midway."—John B. Lundstrom, author of Black Shoe Carrier Admiral: Frank Jack Fletcher at Coral Sea, Midway and Guadalcanal

“This is the perfect match of author and subject. Calling Elliot Carlson’s research ‘thorough’is an understatement. He has delved into an amazing trove of records and recollections. For years, myth and mystery have surrounded the story of Joe Rochefort’s battles against Japanese codes and the cruel bureaucracy of his own Navy. Here, instead, is Rochefort as a real human being, and he turns out to be even more interesting than the myths.”—Paul Stillwell, editor of Air Raid: Pearl Harbor!

“Brilliant biography…instantly accessible and a real ‘page turner’.”—Naval Books of the Year column in Warship, 2013

“For those who specifically seek another “window” into Pearl Harbor and Midway, for those who are interested in the development of naval intelligence, and for those who are buffs of the Navy’s role in the Pacific Theater through 1942, this is a “must” read and well worth the price. The discussions of bureaucratic Navy politics and the career impact of personal rivalries are also instructive. Adequately supported by photographs, Elliot Carson has provided detailed end notes, a glossary, a bibliography, and index. He deserves recognition for this major contribution to the history of the Pacific War.”—The Journal of America’s Military Past, November 2012

Joe Rochefort’s War is a worthy addition to naval intelligence historical literature and is recommended...for reading by current naval intelligence specialists. The challenges, pitfalls, successes and disappointments experienced by Rochefort and his colleagues in the great maritime battles of the recent past are as relevant today as they ever were.”—Headmark, the quarterly journal of the Australian Naval Institute, published out of the Australian Capital Territory

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781591141617
Publisher:
Naval Institute Press
Publication date:
09/15/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
622
Sales rank:
267,582
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.80(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"The stuff of a wartime thriller." —-The Wall Street Journal

Meet the Author


Elliot Carlson is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter, editor and staff writer for such newspapers and magazines as the Honolulu Advertiser, the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. A graduate of the University of Oregon and Stanford University. He holds degrees from Stanford University and the University of Oregon and lives with his wife in Silver Spring, MD.

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Joe Rocheforts War 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
In-Quest More than 1 year ago
Yes, another member of our armed forces who we should all be grateful for. Mr. Rochefort was in the right place at the right time to provide the intelligence Admiral Nimitz needed to risk his precious carriers at the battle of Midway. He was also the reason he had quick access to Admiral Nimitz's staff. He knew the information was most valuable the quicker it got to the commander in the field and he had fought for his quick access. It is a bad feeling when you read military books and find that over and over again the rivalry between branches of the armed forces or even between departments of the same service create situations where we should have done better. Mr. Rochefort seems to have, in the case of Midway, succeeded in doing it better. Very well done Mr. Rochefort and all those who worked with you! Thank you for your service.