Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway

Overview

The Battle of Midway turned the tide of the Pacific War. It is without question one of the most famous battles in history. Now, for the first time since Gordon W. Prange's bestseller Miracle at Midway, comes a myth-smashing new interpretation of this great naval engagement.

Making extensive use of untapped Japanese primary sources, including Imperial Navy operational records never before used by Western authors, Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully reconstruct the actual sequence...

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Overview

The Battle of Midway turned the tide of the Pacific War. It is without question one of the most famous battles in history. Now, for the first time since Gordon W. Prange's bestseller Miracle at Midway, comes a myth-smashing new interpretation of this great naval engagement.

Making extensive use of untapped Japanese primary sources, including Imperial Navy operational records never before used by Western authors, Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully reconstruct the actual sequence of the critical events of June 4, 1942, looking afresh at the decisions of the U.S. and Japanese commanders, and placing them within the seldom-understood context of the Imperial Navy's doctrine and technology. Compellingly readable and filled with sharp insights and penetrating reassessments, Shattered Sword is the first substantive contribution to our understanding of the Battle of Midway in more than a generation. With a foreword by leading World War II naval historian John Lundstrom, it will become an indispensable part of any military history buff's library.

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Editorial Reviews

John B. Lundstrom

“To really know about the Battle of Midway, you must read this book.”—John B. Lundstrom, author of The First Team: Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway
Robert J. Cressman

“Jon Parshall and Anthony Tully explain, in an entirely new light and from a fresh perspective, how the Japanese navy fought the Battle of Midway. Extensively researched, soundly reasoned, and engagingly and colorfully written, Shattered Sword is the most original piece of scholarship on this decisive event since John B. Lundstrom’s groundbreaking The First Team.”—Robert J. Cressman, editor and principal author of A Glorious Page in Our History: The Battle of Midway
Mark R. Peattie

“At last, the Japanese side of the Battle of Midway has been limned in English with accuracy, lucidity, authority, and objectivity. The authors’ specialized knowledge of the tactics and technologies of Japanese naval air power, their careful reading of surviving Japanese air unit records, and their appreciation of the larger meaning of the battle combine to give us a combat narrative and analysis that superbly balance expert detail and grand historical import. I suspect it of being a classic.”Mark R. Peattie, author of Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941 and Sunburst: The Rise of Japanese Naval Air Power, 1909-1941
Eric Bergerud

“A lot has been written about Midway since 1945. Yet everyone who thinks that they know the last word about this momentous event must examine Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully’s book on the subject. Shattered Sword, packed with new information, will certainly become the definitive volume on the most important naval battle of World War II.”Eric Bergerud, professor of military and American history at Lincoln University and author of Touched with Fire: The Land War in the South Pacific
Ships and Shipping

“This incredibly detailed book provides a whole new approach to the study and interpretation of the battle."Ships and Shipping
NYMAS Review

Shattered Sword [is] a necessary read for anyone interested in the Pacific War.”NYMAS Review
From the Publisher
“The authors have researched deeply and widely to provide a new narrative of and analyses about the battle of Midway, and as such have produced an account that as of now should be seen as the definitive volume available. . . . This book is a treasure trove of technical details and will provide even someone who has read a great deal about the battle with new information. . . . A valuable resource for those with any serious interest in the subject.”

"…A fascinating, unique and groundbreaking study on the Japanese and American sides of the encounter with emphasis on the former…Shattered Sword is well written, spectacularly and thoroughly researched and vividly narrated, and is fast becoming the definitive tome on the legendary naval battle."

"It’s not often I finish a book that energizes me the way Parshall and Tully did with Shattered Sword. I highly recommend it."

Shattered Sword [is] a necessary read for anyone interested in the Pacific War.”

“This incredibly detailed book provides a whole new approach to the study and interpretation of the battle."

“To really know about the Battle of Midway, you must read this book.”

“Jon Parshall and Anthony Tully explain, in an entirely new light and from a fresh perspective, how the Japanese navy fought the Battle of Midway. Extensively researched, soundly reasoned, and engagingly and colorfully written, Shattered Sword is the most original piece of scholarship on this decisive event since John B. Lundstrom’s groundbreaking The First Team.”

“At last, the Japanese side of the Battle of Midway has been limned in English with accuracy, lucidity, authority, and objectivity. The authors’ specialized knowledge of the tactics and technologies of Japanese naval air power, their careful reading of surviving Japanese air unit records, and their appreciation of the larger meaning of the battle combine to give us a combat narrative and analysis that superbly balance expert detail and grand historical import. I suspect it of being a classic.”

“A lot has been written about Midway since 1945. Yet everyone who thinks that they know the last word about this momentous event must examine Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully’s book on the subject. Shattered Sword, packed with new information, will certainly become the definitive volume on the most important naval battle of World War II.”

"This incredible book shatters all previous notions on how the Battle of Midway was fought. It also shatters all the standards for military reference works.Shattered Sword will come to be regarded as a benchmark in modern history, for it brings to bear all the tools of modern communication technology in a way that has never been done before. [It] utterly refutes the conclusions of most of the previous accounts of the battle. . . . This book is a page turner, but its importance and its wealth of detail will deman an immediate re-reading."

"This book releases a large number of bombshells, blowing apart the account of Mitsuo Fuchida, the air commander who wrote a book on Midway. [The authors] also tell a gripping story that is backed up by evidence in a massive book that sets the new starting point for the discussion of Midway. . . . This book brings a well-presented case, one that places the 'Incredible Victory' in a whole new context. . . . Shattered Sword is a superb work that should become the definitive reference when the Battle of Midway is discussed. Gordon W. Prange and Walter Lord have been thoroughly eclipsed by this new work creating a full perspective of the pivotal battle of World War II in the Pacific theater."

"Forget what you think you know about Midway. Shattered Sword is a landmark study that redefines the crucial 1942 carrier battle, widely considered the most important naval engagement of the last century. . . . Parshall and Tully dissect the reasons for the Japanese defeat at every level--tactical, operational, and strategic. . . . It has taken sixty years to begin undoing the enduring myths of Midway, and Shattered Sword will likely become the ultimate reference. . . . Sixty-three years is not too long to wait for the authoritative word on the Battle of Midway."

"Why would anyone who has read Walter Lord, Gordon Prange, and Mitsuo Fuchida on this subject think that anything more is to be said, especially by a couple of relatively unknown writers? The short answer is, simply, get this book. Parshall and Tully have pulled off what every author/historian aspires to do: take the body of literature on a chosen topic to a level of insight and understanding not formerly attained or perhaps even imagined. . . . Shattered Sword can justifiably be labled a groundbreaker, a landmark work that bleongs at eye-level center in any naval historian's bookcase."

"Myth-breaking . . . Drawing on Japanese records and accounts untapped by Western historians, [Parshall and Tully] dispell many of the myths and falsehoods surrounding the decisive clash. . . . The authors paint vivid pictures of the death and destruction wrought on the Japanese carriers."

"This meticulously researched and thoroughly documented study is an essential corrective. It is essential reading for anyone interested in carrier aviation, past, present, or future. Although imposing in scale, Shattered Sword is a bargain, and a highly engaging read. Every page seems to throw up a new perspective--from the pathetically low Japanese aircraft production figures, to the political infighting both within the Naval High Command and between the services. The best naval history book of 2005."

"While most of their predecessors have fallen into the same mold--looking at the battle from the American vantage only--Parshall and Tully break new ground in bringing the Japanese perspective into the picture. . . . The authors state that their book attempts to do three things--present the battle from the Japanese side, study it almost exclusively from an aircraft carrier viewpoint, and point out the errors and exaggerations in a group of myths that have surrounded the battle. The authors succeed in all three goals. . . . [They] have produced a superb volume."

"Will earn its place in the already impressive library that focuses on one of the great moments in naval history."

"A remarkable book . . . The breadth and quality of the information about the Japanese air groups provided here is simply staggering. . . . Shattered Sword is equally strong on Japanese strategy and tactics, and on the mentality of the IJN's admirals. . . . This account will undoubtedly revolutionise the way we think about the battle of Midway; it is a towering piece of research by two IJN enthusiastists who have left no stone unturned in their efforts to resolve the plethora of conflicting information which has bedevilled previous analyses."

"Provides a much-needed reassessment of the Battle of Midway. . . . The chapters devoted to the actual battle are a treat, starting with an in-depth description of Japanese flight deck procedures and activities, something rarely detailed in Western publications. This new treatment is basically the Battle of Midway as seen through Japanese eyes. . . . The authors are to be congratulated. Writing on a topic that might not first seem to have anything new to be divulged, they have created something that is as fresh and vital as if it were the first account written at war's end instead of more than sixty years later. I believe that Shattered Sword will become the preeminent narrative history of this crucial battle, and I consider it to be one of the most important books on WWII naval operations to be published in the last twenty years."

"A new and definitive account . . . With the correction of many errors in previous accounts and its new graphics, the book forces scholars of the battle to undertake a major reevaluation of the great naval engagement. . . . Highly recommended."

"Parshall and Tully have set a new standard for researching, evaluating, and synthesizing material from sources around the world to provide a complete account of the Battle of Midway and the underlying causes of Japan's defeat. . . . At least eleven 'urban myths' universally accepted by scholars and sailors have been shattered, providing a whole new level of understanding of the Battle of Midway. Parshall and Tully have provided one of the most readable accounts of the Battle of Midway available anywhere. . . . Experts will certainly agree that this is one of the two or three most important books on the Pacific War published in the last decade."

"Shattered Sword is a must for any student of World War II history interested in the naval conflict in the Pacific. . . . The book will be the standard work on the Battle of Midway for years to come. Parshall and Tully's original approach demonstrates how much can still be revealed about World War II even after sixty years of research and writing."

"Magisterial in its coverage . . . revelatory . . . Parshall and Tully's work is deply researched, all-encompassing in its perspective, painstakingly detailed in its exposition, and lucidly written. It makes an invaluable contribution to the literature of the Pacific War, especially for bringing the vast research of Japanese scholars to the fore, and is absolutely essential reading for every student of the history of World War II at sea."

"One of the year's ten best books."

". . . . this is arguably the most important book on Midway yet written. The authors have made extensive and extremely thoughtful use of Japanese records, particularly pilot log-books and the like, blended this with technical expertise of a high order and produced an account which challenges conventional understanding of this battle . . . . the definitive book on Midway."

"Jonathan B. Parshall and Anthony P. Tully have skillfully reserached, analyzed, and drawn sound conclusions about the actual causes of Japan's defeat at Midway. The authors expose many myths that surround the battle. This is the first truly complete and balanced examination of the decisive battle of Midway."

From the Publisher
"Parshall and Tully have set a new standard for researching, evaluating, and synthesizing material from sources around the world to provide a complete account of the Battle of Midway and the underlying causes of Japan's defeat. . . . At least eleven 'urban myths' universally accepted by scholars and sailors have been shattered, providing a whole new level of understanding of the Battle of Midway. Parshall and Tully have provided one of the most readable accounts of the Battle of Midway available anywhere. . . . Experts will certainly agree that this is one of the two or three most important books on the Pacific War published in the last decade."

"Shattered Sword is a must for any student of World War II history interested in the naval conflict in the Pacific. . . . The book will be the standard work on the Battle of Midway for years to come. Parshall and Tully's original approach demonstrates how much can still be revealed about World War II even after sixty years of research and writing."

"Magisterial in its coverage . . . revelatory . . . Parshall and Tully's work is deply researched, all-encompassing in its perspective, painstakingly detailed in its exposition, and lucidly written. It makes an invaluable contribution to the literature of the Pacific War, especially for bringing the vast research of Japanese scholars to the fore, and is absolutely essential reading for every student of the history of World War II at sea."

"One of the year's ten best books."

". . . . this is arguably the most important book on Midway yet written. The authors have made extensive and extremely thoughtful use of Japanese records, particularly pilot log-books and the like, blended this with technical expertise of a high order and produced an account which challenges conventional understanding of this battle . . . . the definitive book on Midway."

"Jonathan B. Parshall and Anthony P. Tully have skillfully reserached, analyzed, and drawn sound conclusions about the actual causes of Japan's defeat at Midway. The authors expose many myths that surround the battle. This is the first truly complete and balanced examination of the decisive battle of Midway."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781574889246
  • Publisher: Potomac Books
  • Publication date: 11/30/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 640
  • Sales rank: 209,732
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Both Jonathan Parshall and Tony Tully were members of a 1999 mission to the Midway battle site by the Nauticos Corp. and the U.S. Navy Oceanographic Office. Parshall is widely published on naval history in journals and magazines and has contributed to a number of books on the topic. He maintains an award-winning Web site on the Imperial Navy, www.combinedfleet.com. Parshall lives in Minneapolis.

Anthony Tully has been published in such leading military journals as Warship and the U.S. Naval War College Review and is a frequent contributor to combinedfleet.com. He lives in Dallas.

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Eye Opening Account!!

    Most books I have read on the Battle of Midway, were from western authors who described the events of the battle from an American or neutral viewpoint. This book "Shattered Sword", not only describes the battle, but it gives insight on how the Japanese Navy operated. Most books do not explain Japanese Naval Doctrine, or for that matter Japanese Carrier operations. By explaining these factors, one can understand why the Japanese fought the battle the way they did. Very concise and insightful book. Highly recommended for the Pacific War enthusiast!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Masterpiece that sets a new standard

    I held off on purchasing this book, simply because the battle of Midway has been covered in so many books, documentries, articles etc. I frankly didn't see much point in another book on the subject. An honest man has got to admit his mistakes, and wow was I wrong to hesitate in buying this book.

    The authors uncover information that has been ignored for decades about what really happened at Midway and in particular the state of the Japanese carriers. They make extensive use of Japanese sources that have largely been ignored in the west. The results of that research paint a strikingly different picture of the battle than has normally been portrayed here in the west.

    Simply presenting the true picture of the Japanese side of events would have been sufficient to make this a must read for anyone interested in the War in the Pacific. But the authors and publisher didn't stop there.

    The book has numerous maps and illustration discribing various phases of the battle manuevers and details of the ships. The kind of detail sadly lacking from the majority of military history books these days.

    The authors keep their writting 'pithy' and rarely pull their punches when describing the failings of individuals or groups on either side of the battle. At the same time, they strive to bring the stories of individuals to life and give credit where its due -- again on both sides of the battle.

    This book is an absolute must for anyone interested in the war in the pacific, naval warfare in general, or command decisions and their outcomes.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2013

    This is a very detailed book on the Battle of Midway. The author

    This is a very detailed book on the Battle of Midway. The author's have a real passion for their subject, but unfortunately their book is in serious need of a good editor. In its present form it is all but unreadable.

    Here is an example paragraph from their meticulous digression into the Aleutian Operation: "It is clear from the foregoing that the Japanese held an exaggerated opinion of the utility of the Aleutians as a possible path for launching either an invasion or strategic bombing attacks against the homeland. The weather conditions in the Aleutians (as the Japanese were shortly to discover) were routinely awful. The islands themselves- small, mountainous, and devoid of any ground cover or building materials- made the archipelago useless for staging any offensive action larger than an occasional narwhal hunt. Yet, such were the defensive goals which the Japanese went forth."

    Really? A narwhal hunt? Aside from the fact that the authors established that the Japanese operation in the Aleutians was directed at extending their defensive perimeter not as a base for offensive operations, Narwhal don't range within a thousand miles of the Aleutians. I could go on, but I won't.

    Shattered Sword IS AN IMPORTANT BOOK, with a wealth of detail and new (to Americans anyway) information, but sloppy editing means that it reads more like a first draft than a finished product.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 27, 2012

    Highly recommended for WWII buffs.

    This is an exhaustively researched view of the battle of Midway, seen from the Japanese perspective. The book is, by the authors' own admission, a revisionist history; and seeks to dispel some common myths surrounding the battle, especially the myth that the Americans miraculously triumphed at Midway "against overwhelming odds."

    The authors, Johnathan Parshall and Anthony Tully, assiduously dismantle the myth, citing multiple and authoritative sources to back their claim; even when one of the myth-makers, Walter Lord, actually at one time assisted them in their own research.

    Incidentally, "Shattered Sword" restores, at least somewhat, the luster of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, who was pilloried by Japanese as well as the Americans for being timid as a result of the loss of the carriers, when, in fact, he was as aggressive as he could be; given the circumstances.

    I do wish that the authors acknowledged the work of John Toland, who, like Lord, fell into the "myth" that the Americans pulled off a victory in the face of overwhelming odds. While his book, "Rising Sun," is acknowledged in the bibliographical sources, An earlier work, "But Not in Shame" is not, and it's a pity that it's not. It was one of the first of the general and popular histories that addressed the first six months after Pearl Harbor when the Allies were beaten everywhere across the Pacific.

    Nevertheless, I highly recommend "Shattered Sword."

    Michael Peterson

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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