The Twilight Warriors

( 7 )

Overview

April 1945. The end of World War II finally appears to be nearing. The Nazis are collapsing in Europe, and the Americans are vastly overpowering the Japanese in the Pacific. For a group of pilots in their early twenties who were trained during the twilight of the war, the biggest concern is that they'll never actually see real action and will go home without having a chance to face the enemy. They call themselves Tail-End Charlies. They fly at the tail end of formations, stand at the tail end of chow lines, and ...
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The Twilight Warriors

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Overview

April 1945. The end of World War II finally appears to be nearing. The Nazis are collapsing in Europe, and the Americans are vastly overpowering the Japanese in the Pacific. For a group of pilots in their early twenties who were trained during the twilight of the war, the biggest concern is that they'll never actually see real action and will go home without having a chance to face the enemy. They call themselves Tail-End Charlies. They fly at the tail end of formations, stand at the tail end of chow lines, and now they are prepared for battle at the tail end of the war. Little do they know that they will be key players in the most difficult and bloodiest of naval battles—not only of World War II but in all of American history: the campaign to take the Japanese island of Okinawa to serve as a basis for an eventual invasion of Japan.

Derived from interviews with and newly discovered memoirs, journals, and correspondence of Okinawa veterans from both the American and Japanese sides, The Twilight Warriors provides a thrilling you-are-there narrative. Like the HBO series The Pacific, this book combines thrilling action with human stories of courage and sacrifice and triumph. It's Band of Brothers at sea and in the sky.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Military historian and novelist Gandt (Black Star Rising, 2007, etc.) chronicles the epic Battle of Okinawa.

In the spring of 1945, as the Red Army approached Berlin, a ferocious land, sea and air battle raged in the Pacific, a dress rehearsal, many thought, for the upcoming invasion of Japan. The author credits the idea of bypassing the heavily fortified island of Formosa and seizing Okinawa to the brainy Adm. Raymond Spruance. Snapshots of Spruance, Marc Mitscher, Chester Nimitz, Ernest King, Morton Deyo and Arleigh Burke, towering names in American naval history, dot these pages, complemented by similar sharp takes on the Japanese high command defending the island. The heart of Gandt’s story, though, is the tale of the young aviators, the Tail End Charlies on the American side, fearful they’d never get into action, and the Japanese Thunder Gods, the kamikaze force whose suicide missions testified simultaneously to Japan’s will and her desperation. By no means comprehensive—Gandt checks in only periodically with the halting advance of Simon Buckner’s 10th Army—the narrative, nevertheless, consistently enlightens on numerous battle-related issues and incidents: the rivalry between the black shoe (seagoing) and the brown shoe (aviation) navy; how the Japanese consistently overestimated the destruction caused by the kamikaze missions; the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Buckner and famed correspondent Ernie Pyle; the peculiar susceptibility of the wooden-decked U.S. carriers to kamikaze attack; the sinking of the mighty battleship Yamato; the exploits of American ace Al Lerch, who shot down seven planes in a single mission; the strength of the USS Laffey, still afloat after six kamikaze crashes. The appalling price in lives lost, men wounded, ships sunk and aircraft destroyed made Okinawa “the costliest naval engagement in U.S. history.” Three months later the atomic bomb would fall on Hiroshima.

A fine popular account of history’s last great sea battle."  — Kirkus

“Written  in a wonderful bold style, with pathos, humor, tragedy, and gripping suspense, Twilight Warriors captures the life and death struggle of sailors and airmen fighting the last great Pacific battle of World War II...  A riveting masterpiece, a powerful tribute to all those sailors and pilots who went in harm's way.  Five stars!" —Stephen Coonts, author of Flight of the Intruder

“This extremely well written history of the Battle of Okinawa is unusual in that it is perfect for both beginning students and for experts.  It is a book that will leave you with unforgettable memories of the heroes who fought—on both sides—in the Okinawan twilight.”  —Walter J. Boyne, former director of the National Air and Space Museum, author of The Wild Blue.
 
“Using the actual flying experience of the pilots of VBF-10 for center stage, Gandt broadens the scope of "The Twilight Warriors" by melding in Japanese air and sea operations with US operations to give us a complete view of the last big battle in the Pacific campaign. The detailed look at the personalities of American and Japanese warriors adds great insight into decisions made, both good and bad. It is both an informative and compelling read.” —Dave North, Editor-in-Chief, Aviation Week & Space Technology (ret), USS Intrepid pilot

Publishers Weekly
Former navy pilot and military historian Gandt (Season of Storms) is a first-rate storyteller, and here he focuses on an aspect of the Battle of Okinawa sometimes overshadowed by the bitter fighting on land: Okinawa was the most expensive naval battle in American history, with almost 10,000 American casualties. Thirty ships were lost, and over 350 more were damaged, many beyond repair. Gandt uses operational history to structure the naval campaign's human dimensions. He describes Japan's development of a kamikaze force so effective that American admirals deployed picket lines of small, expendable warships to absorb the attacks' initial impact. The author portrays senior officers aged beyond their years by the unending stresses of command. He recreates fighter cockpits as carrier pilots tackle the kamikazes and the escorts determined to bring them through. He boards ships desperately fending off attackers no less determined to make their dying count. On the waters off Okinawa it was kill or be killed. As Gandt ably shows, Okinawa taught President Truman a grim lesson: "any weapon," even an atomic bomb, "was preferable to an invasion" of Japan. B&w photos, maps. (Nov.)
AMERICA IN WWIImagazine
Author Robert Gandt retells the red twilight of the Pacific war in page-turning fashion in The Twilight Warriors. This is no dry review of the strategy of the war’s final campaign, which was fought for the possession of a base for the planned invasion of Japan. This is a richly human story told in the very accessible tradition of Cornelius Ryan and Stephen Ambrose…Gandt’s work is a handsome tribute to the fighting men, American and Japanese, who battled so valiantly in the waning months of the Pacific war and is a must-have for your WWII bookshelf.--(Brian John Murphy)
Library Journal
This narrative of the last months of the war in the Pacific follows a number of pilots from their initial training to their first combat. Although the Japanese Empire was clearly doomed, it was not giving up easily. The author is particularly expressive in recounting the American defense against kamikaze attacks. This book is largely, though not entirely, focused on the bitter fight for Okinawa and will be of most interest for aviation buffs and broader collections.
Kirkus Reviews

Military historian and novelist Gandt (Black Star Rising, 2007, etc.) chronicles the epic Battle of Okinawa.

In the spring of 1945, as the Red Army approached Berlin, a ferocious land, sea and air battle raged in the Pacific, a dress rehearsal, many thought, for the upcoming invasion of Japan. The author credits the idea of bypassing the heavily fortified island of Formosa and seizing Okinawa to the brainy Adm. Raymond Spruance. Snapshots of Spruance, Marc Mitscher, Chester Nimitz, Ernest King, Morton Deyo and Arleigh Burke, towering names in American naval history, dot these pages, complemented by similar sharp takes on the Japanese high command defending the island. The heart of Gandt's story, though, is the tale of the young aviators, the Tail End Charlies on the American side, fearful they'd never get into action, and the Japanese Thunder Gods, the kamikazeforce whose suicide missions testified simultaneously to Japan's will and her desperation. By no means comprehensive—Gandt checks in only periodically with the halting advance of Simon Buckner's 10th Army—the narrative, nevertheless, consistently enlightens on numerous battle-related issues and incidents: the rivalry between the black shoe (seagoing) and the brown shoe (aviation) navy; how the Japanese consistently overestimated the destruction caused by the kamikazemissions; the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Buckner and famed correspondent Ernie Pyle; the peculiar susceptibility of the wooden-decked U.S. carriers to kamikazeattack; the sinking of the mighty battleship Yamato; the exploits of American ace Al Lerch, who shot down seven planes in a single mission; the strength of the USSLaffey, still afloat after six kamikazecrashes. The appalling price in lives lost, men wounded, ships sunk and aircraft destroyed made Okinawa "the costliest naval engagement in U.S. history." Three months later the atomic bomb would fall on Hiroshima.

A fine popular account of history's last great sea battle.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767932424
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/8/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 779,223
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Robert Gandt is a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot and Pan American and Delta Air Lines captain, and the author of eleven books on military and aviation subjects, including China Clipper, Fly Low, Fly Fast, and Bogeys and Bandits.

John Pruden is a professional voice actor who records audiobooks, corporate and online training narrations, animation and video game characters, and radio and TV commercials. An AudioFile Earphones Award winner, his audiobooks include The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt, which was chosen by the Washington Post as the best audiobook of 2011.

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Table of Contents

Time Line

Prologue 1

PART ONE THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR

1 The Next Island 7

2 Tail End Charlies 13

3 You Are Already Gods 24

4 Tiny Tim 35

5 Your Favorite Enemy 43

6 First Blooding 53

7 The Mood in Boys' Town 61

8 Shoot the Son of a Bitch 69

9 We Will Save the Ship 76

10 Thunder Gods 83

11 Three Seconds to Die 94

12 And Where is the Navy? 101

13 Gimlet Eyes and the Alligator 110

PART TWO STORMING THE GREAT LOOCHOO

14 Love Day 119

15 Bourbon and Puddle Water 126

16 Ten-Go 133

17 Divine Wind 142

18 Breakout 153

19 Race for Glory 161

20 First Wave 170

21 Ducks in a Gallery 182

22 There she Blows 190

23 Dumbo and Mighty Mouse 201

PART THREE FLOATING CHRYSANTHEMUMS

24 A Ridge Called Kakazu 217

25 Ohka 225

26 Gunslingers 233

27 Black Friday 244

28 Keep Moving and Keep Shooting 255

29 As Long as a Gun Will Fire 263

30 Glory Day 270

31 Target Intrepid 278

32 Call Me Ernie 287

33 Counteroffensive 294

34 Bottom of the Barrel 302

35 Gone with the Spring 310

36 Change of Command 317

37 Ritual of Death 330

38 Setting Sun 339

Acknowledgments 349

The Honored Dead of Carrier Air Group 10 351

Notes 352

References 365

U.S. Order of Battle 370

Japanese Order of Battle 371

Glossary 372

Credits 375

Index 376

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2012

    Robert Gandt is not an historian. He is a story teller who repea

    Robert Gandt is not an historian. He is a story teller who repeats without question myths, and half truths. It is a disserve to those who served in the Pacific war that this book was chosen by two history book clubs which will further enhance these myths. I served on Okinawa in 1945, but a soldier has little notion of what is happening around him. Later I studied the history of the war by serious writers . Gandt's offering, uncritically, the idea that two newpaper reporters were more expert on strategy than the commander on the ground, the Army's LtGen Buckner , is ludicrous. The suggestion that Holland Smith replace Buckner is even more ludicrous, and could never have happened. At Saipan Smith embarrased ADM Nimitiz and hampered the war with his intemperate actions. Out of twenty Army divisions in the Pacific, half served under Nimitz at different times in the war. He needed the soldiers and wanted good relations with the Army. Gen Marshall swore that he would never permit Smith to command Army troops again, so Gandt's mentioning this possiibility which is believed by many, could never happen. There were four battle hardened Army divisions and two Marine divisions, all veterans of Pacific battles, and all in constant combat on Okinawa. Later near the end, a Marine regiment was added. After Saipan, Smith was taken out of any combat role and kicked upstairs to command the Fleet Marine Force, whose purpose was administrative and training and located at Pearl Harbor. Smith was bitter about this assignment but he was lucky since he came close to leaving the theater. Adm King saved him. Nimitz promised to give Smith a combat job in the future which he did at Iwo Jima, only his position was such that he could do little damage.
    Okinawa was a bittle campaign since it was fought on the doorstep of Japan. To not understand the tenacity of the enemy and the nature of the rain soaked terrain is not to understand General Buckner's task. The attempt at a second landing as suggested by these reporters and seemingly put forth as a good possibility by Gandt would have been a fiasco. Nimitiz and Buckner would have been blamed for its failure. Gandt hints that Nimitz,s backing of Buckner was not real, despite the unusual press conference the Admiral called.
    One other point, Gandt stated that Adm Spruance was the victor at Midway. Another myth. Read "Blackshoe Carrier Admiral" the story of VAdm Frank Jack Fletcher at Coral Sea, Midway, and Guadalcanal, by Lundstrom.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 17, 2010

    Highly recommended for WWII history buffs.

    The Twilight Warriors is a very entertaining book covering the Navy airmen known as 'Tail End Charlies' that fought some of the bloodiest battles in the waning months of WWII. Although Gandt's writing style is a bit predictable and unpolished, he does an excellent job in capturing the reader's attention and holding it throughout the book. The reader quickly identifies with the characters and feels they are riding right along with them. This is a very enjoyable book and hard to put down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 13, 2012

    Unbroken is authored by Laura Hillenbrand and is a World War II

    Unbroken is authored by Laura Hillenbrand and is a World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemption. It chronicles the life story of Louie Zamperini, an olympic gold contender in the 1936 olympics held in Germany. The book tells events of his life, how adventurous and mischievous he was, until he got serious about running in high school. His brother, Pete, another fast runner, helped train Louie and encouraged him to run in the 1936 olympics.

    This book is about more than the Olympics, however. World War II came and many men were drafted, including Louie. It tells of the branch of service he was in and the training he went through in the armed forces. It portrays the bravery of the men he fought with, especially with the equipment they were given to fight with. And to fly in. I learned more about the airplanes used for World War II than I care to know.

    Unfortunately, one of Louie's command attacks didn't make it, and he was plunged in the ocean with 2 of his men. I was amazed at how they lived each day in the ordeal of being on a raft in salt water with nothing around them but more salt water and sharks!! If that wasn't bad enough, they were rescued by Japanese and were made POW's. After reading this book I have greater respect for our POW's and what they went through. I honestly don't know how they survived the atrocities that were given to them.

    This book will make you so thankful for the freedom we celebrate and experience in the United States. It will also remind you that God is a God of miracles. I encourage you to read it!! I received this book free from Waterbrook Multinomah for an advance reading as part of their Blogging For Books program . I was not required to write a positive review and therefore, the book review is 100% my own opinion.

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  • Posted December 24, 2011

    Interesting, informative and entertaining read

    If you are interested in military history from the perspective of the men on the line this is a well worth reading. Lots of detail and insights without sacrificing the pace of the read.

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  • Posted February 13, 2011

    I highly recommend it.

    Twilight Warriors may be non-fiction, but there are no boring facts here. This account of the waning days of World War II in the Pacific is a compelling story. Robert Gandt's easy writing style, along with his personal experiences as a Navy pilot conveys a real world perspective. This comprehensive work told from both the Japanese and American perspective, brings it all together through the lives of USS Intrepid aviators.

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    Posted June 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2011

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    Posted June 28, 2011

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