The Twilight Warriors

The Twilight Warriors

3.7 7
by Robert Gandt, John Pruden
     
 

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The Twilight Warriors is the engrossing, page-turning saga of a tightly knit band of naval aviators who are thrust into the final—and most brutal—battle of the Pacific war: Okinawa.

April 1945. The end of World War II finally appears to be nearing. The Third Reich is collapsing in Europe, and the Americans are overpowering the once-mighty

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Overview

The Twilight Warriors is the engrossing, page-turning saga of a tightly knit band of naval aviators who are thrust into the final—and most brutal—battle of the Pacific war: Okinawa.

April 1945. The end of World War II finally appears to be nearing. The Third Reich is collapsing in Europe, and the Americans are overpowering the once-mighty Japanese Empire in the Pacific. For a group of young pilots trained in the twilight of the war, the greatest worry is that it will end before they have 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 catching the tail end of the war. What they don’t know is that they will be key players in the bloodiest and most difficult of naval battles—not only of World War II but in all of American history.

The Twilight Warriors relives the drama of the world’s last great naval campaign. From the cockpit of a Corsair fighter we gaze down at the Japanese task force racing to destroy the American amphibious force at Okinawa. Through the eyes of the men on the destroyers assigned to picket ship duty, we experience the terror as wave after wave of kamikazes crash into their ships. Standing on the deck of the legendary superbattleship Yamato, we watch Japan’s last hope for victory die in a tableau of gunfire and explosions.

Among the Tail End Charlies are men such as a twenty-two-year-old former art student who grows to manhood on the day of his first mission over Japan and his best friend, a ladies’ man and intrepid fighter pilot whose life abruptly changes when his Corsair goes down off the enemy shore. Another is a young Texan lieutenant who volunteers for the most dangerous flying job in the fleet—intercepting kamikazes at night over the blackened Pacific. Their leader is a charismatic officer who rises to greatness in the crucible of Okinawa. Directing the vast armada of sea, air, and land forces is a cast of brilliant and flawed commanders—from the imperturbable admiral and master of carrier warfare to the controversial soldier assigned to command the land forces.

The fate of the Americans at Okinawa is intertwined with the lives of the “young gods”— the honor-bound Japanese airmen who swarm like killer bees toward the U.S. ships. The kamikazes are dispatched on their deadly one-way missions by a classic samurai warrior who vows that he will follow them to a warrior’s grave.

The ferocity of the Okinawa fighting stuns the world. Before it ends, the long battle will cost more American lives, ships, and aircraft than any naval engagement in U.S. history. More than simply the account of a historic battle, The Twilight Warriors brings to life the human side of an epic conflict. It is the story of young Americans at war in the air and on the sea—and of their enigmatic, fanatically courageous enemy.

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Editorial Reviews

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)
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

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:
9781400147946
Publisher:
Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date:
11/17/2010
Edition description:
Library - Unabridged CD
Product dimensions:
6.60(w) x 6.50(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

ROBERT GANDT is a former naval officer and aviator, international airline pilot, screenwriter, and a military and aviation historian.  He is the author of six novels and seven non-fiction books, including Bogeys and Bandits, the definitive work on modern naval aviation, which was adapted for the television series Pensacola: Wings of Gold.  He and his wife Anne live in the Spruce Creek Fly-In in Daytona Beach, Florida.  You may visit his web site at www.Gandt.com.

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The Twilight Warriors 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
sartech More than 1 year ago
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.
JakeJE More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pennyskin More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lovetoteachLB More than 1 year ago
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.