The Battle of Leyte Gulf was the greatest naval engagement in history. The battle was four separate actions, none of which were fought in the Gulf itself, and the result was the destruction of Japanese naval power in the Pacific. This book is a detailed and comprehensive account of the fighting from both sides. It provides the context of the battle, most obviously in terms of Japanese calculations and the search for "a fitting place to die" and "the chance to bloom as flowers of death." Using Japanese material never previously noted in western accounts, H. P. Willmott provides new perspectives on the unfolding of the battle and very deliberately seeks to give readers a proper understanding of the importance of this battle for American naval operations in the following month. This careful interrogation of the accounts of "the last fleet action" is a significant contribution to military history.
About the Author
H. P. Willmott has written extensively on warfare in general and on World War II in particular. Among his books are The Last Century of Sea Power: From Washington to Tokyo, 1922–1945 (IUP, 2010) and The Last Century of Sea Power: From Port Arthur to Chanak, 1894–1922 (IUP, 2009).
Table of Contents
List of Maps
List of Tables
1. The Nature of War and Victory
2. The Option of Difficulties: The American Situation in the Aftermath of the Victory in the Philippine Sea
3. The Search for Solutions: The Japanese Situation in the Aftermath of Defeat in the Philippine Sea
4. Preliminaries: 6-18 October 1944
5. Advance and Contact, 18-24 October 1944
6. The Great Day of Wrath: 25 October 1944
7. The Naval Battle for the Philippines: The Postscript, 26 October-30 November 1944
8. To Pause and Consider: Blame, Responsibility, and the Verdict of History.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
There is really very little new in this long-anticipated book. It hews to the doctrinaire historian line, i.e. that the overarching 'battle' consisted of four 'battles'. When the battle--as defined by the author--ended, the Gulf area was still not secure and the Japanese were continuing to reinforce Leyte. In reality, nothing much had changed except that key units of the Japanese fleet lay at the bottom of the Surigao Strait. But at this point in the war, large gunships counted for little in any event. The Battle really ended with the unheralded Battle of Ormoc Bay (mid-November through mid-December, 1944). At this point the Tokyo Express had been shutdown and MacArthur declared the end of the Battle for the central Philippines.
This is one of the most poorly written books I have ever read.. The writing is often tediously repetitious and contains numerous solecisms, odd word choice and awkward constructions. There are many places where the author assumes that the reader knows what he is talking about so he leaves out any complete explanation. As an example he writes several times about the "famous" message from Nimitz to Halsey but is not until p. 193 that he actually quotes the message. This is ridiculous. There are other quotes that lack proper attribution, which makes them very unhelpful. Willmott is very opinionated: instead of merely stating the objective facts and leading the reader to appropriate conclusions, he often repeats his very dogmatic and strident opinions as though mere repetition will convince anyone. Willmott is often insulting to many of the participants and to other historians with different views. This is very disturbing in what is supposed to be a scholarly work. This book needed substantial editing, and it is surprising that this kind of writing could have passed the attention of any reasonably competent editor. At best, it was a very difficult read as a result, and it certainly added nothing to my knowledge of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. This book is a disappointment and a decided waste of time. I cannot recommend reading Willmott's The Battle of Leyte Gulf to anyone.
H.P. Willmott has once again produced an important addition to the literature of the Second World War. His attention to historical detail combined with a compelling narrative - hallmarks of his previous works as well - make this an essential read for anyone interested in military history.