Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun

Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun

by John Prados


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The Battle of Midway is traditionally held as the point when Allied forces gained advantage over the Japanese. In Islands of Destiny, acclaimed historian and military intelligence expert John Prados points out that the Japanese forces quickly regained strength after Midway and continued their assault undaunted.

Taking this surprising fact as the start of his inquiry, he began to investigate how and when the Pacific tide turned in the Allies’ favor. Using archives of WWII intelligence reports from both sides, Prados offers up a compelling reassessment of the true turning in the Pacific: not Midway, but the fight for the Solomon Islands.

Combat in the Solomons saw a series of surface naval battles, including one of the key battleship-versus-battleship actions of the war; two major carrier actions; daily air duels, including the aerial ambush in which perished the famous Japanese naval commander Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku; and many other hair-raising exploits. Commencing with the Allied invasion of Guadalcanal, Prados shows how and why the Allies beat Japan on the sea, in the air, and in the jungles.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451414823
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/01/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 580,557
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Dr. John Prados is a Senior Research Fellow on national security, including foreign affairs, intelligence, and military subjects, at the National Security Archive. He directs the Archive's Iraq Documentation Project, as well as its Vietnam Project. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from Columbia University. His books Unwinnable War, Keepers of the Keys (on the National Security Council) and Combined Fleet Decoded (on intelligence in the Pacific in World War II) were each nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He has published articles with Vanity Fair, The Journal of American History, Scientific American, MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post,  and The Boston Globe.

Table of Contents

Note to the Reader xi

Introduction xv

Abbreviations and Acronyms xxi

Prologue: The Japanese After Midway 1

I All Along the Watchtower 17

II Under the Southern Cross 55

III A Crimson Tide 102

IV Empire in the Balance 160

V Inching for Ground 217

VI War of Attrition 260

VII Fortress Rabaul 315

VIII South Pacific Dreams 350

Endnotes 363

Bibliography 369

Aircraft of the Solomons 375

Index 379

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“John Prados is a clever and prodigious digger of historical fact. Using new sources, especially from the Japanese side, he offers a fresh and compelling account of the true turning point of the Pacific War.”Evan Thomas, New York Times Bestselling Author of Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Struggle to Save the World and Sea of Thunder
“John Prados has done it again: He has taken a well-known, oft-described military campaign and has brought new and important perspective and insight to the events.”Norman Polmar, Author of Project Azorian: The CIA and the Raising of the K-129

“John Prados has turned his considerable talents to the Navy’s Solomons campaign, not only shedding light on an oft-neglected aspect of World War II, but shedding new light by carefully evaluating the influence and impact of intelligence on that vital struggle.”—Thomas J. Cutler, Author of The Battle of Leyte Gulf

"Move over, Midway. John Prados wants to bump the famed naval battle from its vaunted spot as the Allies' Big Turnaround in the Pacific. Instead, the historian argues, the tide really turned during the long, complicated, and messy land-and-sea battles of the Solomon Islands...And his reasons are very persuasive...With his storytelling's rich depths and surprising perspectives, Islands of Destiny is essential reading for anyone interested in the Pacific War."—World War II Magazine

"In vivid, immediate prose, Prados details battles from Guadalcanal to a late-1943 siege at Rabaul in New Guinea, showing how cunning strategy allowed the Allies to overcome the Japanese at sea and in the air...Prados provides an accessible history that avoids excessive jargon. Even casual readers of World War II history will find it engaging, and they will likely agree that the author makes a strong case for his revisionist assessment. A well-crafted addition to the canon of World War II military histories."—Kirkus Reviews

"Authoritative...Islands of Destiny serves as a powerful reminder of the geography, the strategy and the ferocity of the Solomons campaign...this book won't disappoint."—Wall Street Journal

“[Prados] argues that Guadalcanal and the Solomons campaign, not Midway, were the Pacific War’s true turning point. His use of Japanese primary sources is especially impressive. Imperial Navy figures, often treated as ciphers, regain their humanity in this author’s sympathetic hands.”—San Diego Union-Tribune

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Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
bama81 More than 1 year ago
A history buff's read.Informative yet enjoyable.More novel than text.Recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a really fresh take on events in the Solomons campaign. It hit the points that have been ignored in most of the writing on the subject. Some of these other comments were pretty mystifying. For example, one person complains there weren't any personal stories but I saw lots of them. In any case, the book told this story in a new way, had a ton of new stuff on the intelligence picture--and even from both sides--and it opened vistas I'd not seen before. Recommended from here too.
MLAB More than 1 year ago
I think the book was very good, but the detail was overwhelming. So many Japanese boat names and Japanese naval officer names had my head spinning. Was interesting to read (brief) about the PT109 and Kennedy and some other US officers. I was hoping to buy a book on Guadalcanal about the Marines fighting not that interested in all naval and air engagements.  Getting difficult to finish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book contains lots of information and detail, but poorly written. The timeline, as the author moves from side to side, seems to get disjointed and at times it is difficult to understand which character the author is talking about. Vocabulary seems to be a mixture of reading levels, with more advanced words thrown in to make the author appear more sophisticated (than need be). I will finish the book, but it is not an easy, or pleasant, read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
chipperMJ More than 1 year ago
Sorely disappointed. Got through the first 100 pages and closed the book. If you are looking for personal accounts, look elsewhere, you will not find it here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is supposedly about American intelligence in the Solomon's campaign but is really about Prados rewriting the history in a highly Japanese oriented (and sympathetic) way. Perhaps he picked the Solomon's campaign for the turning point because this is where he had first hand Japanese material. The intelligence part is anecdotal. In many cases intelligence had little or only marginal effect (even by his reasoning), because it is misinterpreted or not fully interpreted or countered, as in most such situations. My father was deeply involved in this aspect of the war, and this guy is ax grinding with an ideology. Like most of what he has written. A good writer encapsulates and writes clearly. Prados throws out detail with only a vague ideological filter. Historical garbage. Wasted money on it/
Tsunami767 More than 1 year ago
John Prado has researched this book to death. What could have been a very interesting PERSONAL experience of the lives, battles, and defeats on both sides of this tremendous struggle, is absolutely stifled by the meuse of facts, obscure communications and a whole host of non-sequiter elements that ADDS NOTHING to this epic struggle. I struggled thru this book for the fist 300 pages, and then just had to put it down. As Mark Twain said about the Book of Mormon... this book to, is chloroform in print. Don’t bother. So sad, because you can tell Mr. Prados put a lot of time into a well written book, just without passion or enough of personal struggles of the men who fought.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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