Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign 1941-1945

Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign 1941-1945

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Overview

Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign 1941-1945 by Evan Thomas, George Wilson

Evan Thomas takes us inside the naval war of 1941-1945 in the South Pacific in a way that blends the best of military and cultural history and riveting narrative drama. He follows four men throughout: Admiral William ("Bull") Halsey, the macho, gallant, racist American fleet commander; Admiral Takeo Kurita, the Japanese battleship commander charged with making what was, in essence, a suicidal fleet attack against the American invasion of the Philippines; Admiral Matome Ugaki, a self-styled samurai who was the commander of all kamikazes and himself the last kamikaze of the war; and Commander Ernest Evans, a Cherokee Indian and Annapolis graduate who led his destroyer on the last great charge in the last great naval battle in history. Sea of Thunder climaxes with the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the biggest naval battle ever fought, over four bloody and harrowing days in October 1944. We see Halsey make an epic blunder just as he reaches for true glory; we see the Japanese navy literally sailing in circles, torn between the desire to die heroically and the exhausted, unacceptable realization that death is futile; we sail with Commander Evans and the men of the USS Johnston into the jaws of the Japanese fleet and exult and suffer with them as they torpedo a cruiser, bluff and confuse the enemy -- and then, their ship sunk, endure fifty horrific hours in shark-infested water. Thomas, a journalist and historian, traveled to Japan, where he interviewed veterans of the Imperial Japanese Navy who survived the Battle of Leyte Gulf and friends and family of the two Japanese admirals. From new documents and interviews, he was able to piece together and answer mysteries about the Battle of Leyte Gulf that have puzzled historians for decades. He writes with a knowing feel for the clash of cultures. Sea of Thunder is a taut, fast-paced, suspenseful narrative of the last great naval war, an important contribution to the history of the Second World War.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781428111837
Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date: 11/07/2006
Edition description: Unabridged, 14 CDs, 13 hrs. 30 min.
Pages: 13
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Evan Thomas is the author of The Very Best Men: Four Who Dared: The Early Years of the C.I.A.; Robert Kennedy: His Life; The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst and the Rush to Empire, 1989; Sea of Thunder: The Last Great Naval Command, 1941-1945; and John Paul Jones. His most recent book is Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World.

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Sea of Thunder 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
glauver More than 1 year ago
Sea Of Thunder is an interesting account of the WWII Battle of Leyte Gulf. Even Thomas examines it by concentrating on several Japaneses and American naval commanders. I'm not sure that I learned anything new or startling. The mistakes and miscalculations on both sides have been exhaustively discussed. The cultural differences are where this account stands out. We are far enough from the conflict that both sides' bigotries and blind spots about each other can be calmly discussed. Thomas does pose a powerful ethical question at the conclusion of the book. Is it more courageous to fight to the bitter end and sacrifice the lives of your men or to take actions that minimize the loss of life in your command? Each reader can make his or her decision.
DuctorCE More than 1 year ago
One might be forgiven for thinking that everything that can be said about World War II, has already been said. That is probably right; but it is not what is said, but how it is said. In Sea of Thunder, Evan Thomas brings a balanced appraisal of the leading personalities involved in the Battle of Leyte Gulf at the close of World War II - warts and all. Readers of military history fall into two camps. One consists of those who thirst for knowledge and comparison of differing opinion. The other likes a patriotic 'fix', while enjoying summaries of past victories. Thomas's book will satisfy the former and antagonize the latter. This review will attempt to hover between the two extremes. This is a story about an American admiral and a Commander, and two Japanese admirals. However, the book starts and ends with Admiral William F. Halsey Jr., USN. The culmination of the work is Halsey's lapse of judgment at Leyte Gulf, and the suicide mission of Cdr Evans resulting in his death together with much of his crew. The final score was one American and one Japanese left standing. Thomas is a leading journalist, and his book betrays that occupation. Seen from both sides of the '41to'45 conflict (1939 to 1945 for everyone else), the story grips the reader from start to finish. Unfortunately, in his desire to be 'balanced' - a prerequisite of today's journalism, his prose lacks passion. There is little indication of the success of the Marine landings, only a reminder of their failures. The Kamikaze assaults seem a minor inconvenience, and not the serious threat they really were. The set-piece sea battles somehow got lost in the writing. Maybe I was not paying attention, but it seemed to me that the Japanese could not decide what to do. Halsey went off chasing personal glory -exactly as the Japanese thought he would. His incompetence did not stop there. He was found guilty of dereliction of duty during not one, but two typhoons causing death and destruction on a massive scale. Fortunately, the top brass were old chums, so Halsey went on to promotion as a five star fleet admiral. If a blundering drunk can reach the dizzy heights of five star rank, there is hope for the rest of us. While all this was going on, the defenders of Leyte Gulf did their job, and the Marines did theirs with conspicuous gallantry. Evan Thomas's book is very well researched, and a compelling read. It is available from Amazon for a ridiculously small price, and will be enjoyed by everyone who has in interest in World War II, particularly that part of it played out in the Pacific Ocean.
Guest More than 1 year ago
picky,picky,picky but no excuse to have misspelled USMC General A.A. Vandegrift's name, although more than one who should know better has done the same by adding an 'r' to his name. As to the book, a sort of birds eye view of a complex battle with poor to non existent communications between task forces and commands. Looking from above it all, the blunders and miscalculations combine to reveal how capricious the 'fog of war' can be. I liked how the author put a human face on each character, featuring the Japanese players as well as the Americans. He provides a broader perspective on Admiral Halsey than we get from several other sources, as well as insights into the almost incomprehensible complex minds of the Japanese.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Of course everyone interested in history has read about Leyte Gulf. But this book is a new take on this battle and the events surrounding it. The interesting part of course is the whole approach to this, particularly the study of the Japanese Admirals. Rivers of ink have been spilled on Bull Halsey. But it was interesting, among other vignettes, to read about his adventure of getting his pilot wings at Pensacola. So he refused to wear glasses, could not see the instrument panel, and never knew how high or where he was flying to.That must have overjoyed his PI (pilot instructor for those readers who never took military flight training). The mask like Japanese admiral who was totally wiped out by the early death of his wife was particularly illuminating as was the general description of the humanity of the Japanese under the total mask of emotional control.The huge psychological reaction by the Japanese Naval leadership to Doolitle's Tokyo raid was illuminating. The information given on the Naval Academy at Eta Jima was interesting. I was surprised by the description of the brutal beatings of freshmen cadets (twelve blows with a closed fist to the face at any perceived lack of respect) which rendered them 'sheepishly obedient' and carried this over into their service as officers. Fatal training flaw when compared to the German Army Auftragsbefehl (task oriented orders fostering individual initiative in officers) This book is a worthy successor to Evan Thomas' book on John Paul Jones which I recently had the pleasure of reading. Two Pulitzers anyone?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent read. Enjoyed the prospection from both sides of the battle and the strategy/mindset of both leaders.
goosegaurd35 More than 1 year ago
A little draggy. I had moments of bordem reading this book. Read "Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors" instead.
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Mets6986 More than 1 year ago
A fascinating look at the tumultuous rigors of command in the Pacific during WWII. Thomas does a wonderful job taking the reader into the heart of decisions commanders face under stress. A unique look into the pride and prejudices of both American and Japanese commanders. Each of the 4 major naval commanders are exposed for the reader to judge. I particularly enjoyed how Thomas brings all 4 commanders to the same moment in history at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. A must read for anyone interested in the Pacific War.
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Margarita65 More than 1 year ago
I am an avid fan of WW II, especially the European theater but I love the sea battles. Midway & Leyte Gulf. Sea of thunder is the best I have read. YOu know the ending but it is still exctiing to read. I loved the in depth character analysis of the individuals & the differences between the americans & the Japanese.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was probably the most in-depth World War II book I have ever read. Not just a recitation of history. But the thoughts of both US & Japanese particpants. And I have read VERY many WW II books. This book gives you background on the bi-lateral racism and hatred pervasive in the 1940's. You can see why the US born Japanese citizens were imprisoned without a second thought by our government. While white German-Americans were free to raom the US. This book gives you their thoughts. And surprising and previously unheard of trepedations of Japanese naval officers. That seemed all too eager to knowingly engage their own men in obvious losing slaughters just for the glory of the emporor. A VERY GOOD revelation of personal feelings and thoughts of these naval officers on both sides of the Pacific war.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great promise! Poor delivery. Thomas, according to the blurb I read, offers the idea of four first hand accounts, dramatically told, within the context of an overview. We don't get it. In plenty we don't get it. Somebody looking for a buck took a look at the market and wrote this. Nothing new. Written by committee. Not only is concept not what it says it is to be, but style and POV inconsistent. Ho-hum. Look for a new title from Mr. Thomas soon. He's obviously grinding them out ASAP.