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Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942
     

Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942

4.0 25
by Ian W. Toll
 

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“Both a serious work of history . . . and a marvelously readable dramatic narrative.”—San Francisco Chronicle

On the first Sunday in December 1941, an armada of Japanese warplanes appeared suddenly over Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and devastated the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Six months later, in a sea fight north of the tiny atoll of Midway,

Overview

“Both a serious work of history . . . and a marvelously readable dramatic narrative.”—San Francisco Chronicle

On the first Sunday in December 1941, an armada of Japanese warplanes appeared suddenly over Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and devastated the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Six months later, in a sea fight north of the tiny atoll of Midway, four Japanese aircraft carriers were sent into the abyss, a blow that destroyed the offensive power of their fleet. Pacific Crucible tells the epic tale of these first searing months of the Pacific war, when the U.S. Navy shook off the worst defeat in American military history and seized the strategic initiative.

This dramatic narrative, relying predominantly on eyewitness accounts and primary sources, is laced with riveting details of heroism and sacrifice on the stricken ships and planes of both navies. At the war’s outset, Japan’s pilots and planes enjoyed a clear-cut superiority to their American counterparts, but there was a price to be paid. Japanese pilots endured a lengthy and grueling training in which they were disciplined with baseball bats, often suffering broken bones; and the production line of the Zero— Japan’s superbly maneuverable fighter plane—ended not at a highway or railhead but at a rice paddy, through which the planes were then hauled on ox carts. Combat losses, of either pilots or planes, could not be replaced in time to match the fully mobilized American war machine.

Pacific Crucible also spotlights recent scholarship that revises our understanding of the conflict, including the Japanese decision to provoke a war that few in their highest circles thought they could win. Those doubters included the flamboyantly brilliant Admiral Isokoru Yamamoto, architect of the raid on Pearl and the Midway offensive.

Once again, Ian W. Toll proves himself to be a simply magnificent writer. The result here is a page-turning history that does justice to the breadth and depth of a tremendous subject.

Editorial Reviews

Michael Beschloss
…Toll has an affinity for the detailed narrative of military conflict and for capsule portraiture of key personalities both high-ranking and low. Here, his effort to provide historical recognition where it is due extends to the subject of the Pacific War itself, which—even as it was unfolding, and certainly now—has too often been eclipsed by the struggle against Hitler and Mussolini in Europe and North Africa. Toll is especially skilled at setting his story in context, taking the reader on valuable excursions into subjects like the impact of Alfred Thayer Mahan's views on naval strategy and the history of Japanese expansionism.
—The New York Times Book Review

Ian Toll's first book, Six Frigates, won him a Samuel Eliot Morison Award. Pacific Crucible, his second, offers a compelling narrative of the naval conflict in the year following the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor. The story of the first year of the war in the Pacific is among the most stirring and significant in American military history. Drawing on eyewitness accounts and detailed archival research, Toll recreates the hard won triumphs of the United States Navy after the worst defeat in the nation's annals. A first-rate military history by an award-winning author.

Publishers Weekly
Prize-winning freelance naval historian Toll (Six Frigates) chronicles one of the U.S. Navy’s finest performances of WWII in this page-turning narrative of the months following the devastating attacks on Pearl Harbor. Eyewitness accounts and extensive research in American and Japanese print and archival sources combined with Toll’s storytelling abilities make this an approachable and compelling read in a genre typically reserved for military historians. More than mere battle plans and fighter plane model numbers, Toll’s take on the fight in the Pacific is imbued with a sensitivity to detail and individuals, as evidenced by his moving account of the disembarkation of Admiral Fitch and his crew from the sinking USS Lexington at the Battle of the Coral Sea, which saw ice cream being served as the boat burned and men awaiting rescue swam in the warm waters below. But Toll does not pander to sensationalism: his incisive scholastic efforts also shed light on Japanese motives for entering a war that many in the high command considered unwinnable. Revealing and poignant, Toll’s latest deftly navigates the rough waters of the Pacific struggle with flying colors. Illus. and maps. (Nov.)
Booklist
“The research is thorough, the writing clear, and the narrative flow exemplary...it is difficult to think of a recent book on this subject that is of such consistently outstanding value.”
LibraryJournal.com
“Well documented—albeit from previously published materials—and well written. Experienced World War II history buffs may bypass if they feel no need to read another retelling of this phase of the Pacific War, but nonspecialists and general readers will want to consider it.”
Library Journal
Winner of the Samuel Eliot Morison and William E. Colby awards for Six Frigates, Toll has the expertise to discuss the first months of the Pacific War. History readers will want; with a seven-city tour.
Kirkus Reviews

An entertaining, impressively researched chronicle of the tense period between the bombing of Pearl Harbor and American victory at the battle of Midway.

In between these two signal events of World War II, uncertainty shook America. In the Pacific, the United States was caught off-guard by Japan's sneak attack, her Navy crippled and her fighters outmatched by the agile and deadly Japanese Zeros. Rumors of Japanese invasion of the West Coast seemed more likely with each defeat suffered by the combined forces in the Philippines. Toll (Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy, 2008, etc.) examines the forces moving behind the scenes—the trends in naval combat, complicated allegiances of American and Japanese politics, the military hierarchies and infighting that occurred between the combined forces—to create a full picture of the complex dynamics involved. The author's attempts to be comprehensive occasionally lead to dry passages and unnecessary digressions, especially regarding the more esoteric areas of politics. But when illuminating the remarkable men behind the headlines, Toll truly excels. From the horror of Pearl Harbor to the triumphant battle of Midway, the author carefully balances the narrative to tell the story from both sides of the conflict. His account begins with the American and Japanese officials involved in the burgeoning field of aircraft-carrier combat, and continues down to the pilots and crewmen who acted as the guinea pigs. What he finds is not a group of fearless soldiers, but real, conflicted men nearly torn apart by their doubts and fears, men who found the real courage necessary to act all the same.

Toll gives everyone involved in the conflict a chance to speak, bringing readers into the command centers and cockpits to reveal the humanity of combatants on both sides of the Pacific.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393083170
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
11/26/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
656
Sales rank:
39,110
File size:
11 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Ian W. Toll is the author of Pacific Crucible and Six Frigates, winner of the Samuel Eliot Morison Award and the William E. Colby Award. He lives in San Francisco and New York.

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Pacific Crucible 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderfully told story with viewpoints from both sides. It was fascinating to have the Japanese view as well as the American. Having served in the Navy I was surprised by the Japanese approach to damage control and the lack of plan and training. I read 6 Frigates, enjoyed it, Mr Toll has been added to my list of favorite story tellers along with David McCullough, Shelby Foote, Stephen Ambrose and Jean Edward Smith
sainthelenaislandman More than 1 year ago
A spectacular book by one of America's finest naval historians.  This beautifully written and meticulously researched history of the run-up to WWII from both sides of the Pacific is thrilling and extraordinarily educational.  A must read.
Rob0NY More than 1 year ago
Before I get to the content, the nook version is TERRIBLE if you are reading on the ap. Instead of foot notes, there is hot linked text. WHile it's easy to avoid clicking by accident  on an actual nook, I read most of the book on the nook ap and was constantly being vaulted into the end notes. Total hassle and the ap even froze up on occasion. Rotten UX. But.... The book is totally worth the trouble. Toll does an outstanding job taking you through strategy and the key personalities on each side and then diving right into the action with riveting detail.  The result is both highly informative and a page turner.  Definitely gave me a great feel for what was already somewhat familiar ground as well as raised some new ideas. I strongly recommend the content and Toll is to be commended for an amazing job.
rickr2d2 More than 1 year ago
This writer's eloquence on the Pacific War in WWII is the equivalent of Shelby Foote's writing on the Civil War. The book reads like a novel and gives an enormous amount of info on the critical first two years of the war. Any true understanding of the respective cultures should start with this book. It clearly and cogently explains the planning as well as the environment that the US and Japan worked in to create the the course of events that culminated with Pearl Harbor and Midway. A terrific read.
Niz More than 1 year ago
This is a very well written and engaging story of the early years of the Pacific Campaign. Ian Toll's story telling is comparable to Stephen Ambrose and David McCullough, two of my favorite story tellers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable but Conquering Tide better read
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Same rules, same vote stuff. Just change date and topic. Thetheme is to write one diary entry, has to be funny.
In-Quest More than 1 year ago
The author covers Pearl Harbor, December 7 1941 through the Battle of Midway, June 4-7 1942. As the books title indicates this six month period was a severe, searching test or trial for the US Navy in the Pacific. We took a lot of punishment but we handed out some to. The Japanese tested our metal and found out we were not going away like they had hoped. Well done Navy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book provides an excellent account of the political and military actions and strategy from both the Allied and Japanese prospective. It points out how blunders and brilliant maneuvers on both sides eventually effected the final outcome of the war.
PDBentz More than 1 year ago
I found Pacific Crucible an informative and well paced read. While there are numerous books regarding individual aspects of the battles from Pearl Harbor through Midway, this book provides a great overall look at the first crucial days of the Second World War in the Pacific. Toll provides enough background information to allow the reader to feel well informed on events from both sides of the conflict.
JohnMcLellan More than 1 year ago
A must read to understand the WWII Pacific war.