*Includes soldiers' accounts of the fighting
*Includes bibliographies for further reading
Although not as well-remembered as D-Day or even the attack at Pearl Harbor that preceded it, the Battle of Midway was one of the most unique and important battles fought during World War II. In fact, the turning point in the Pacific theater took place between June 4-7, 1942 as a Japanese fleet moved a sizable fleet intending to occupy Midway Island and draw the American navy near. Instead, American aircraft flying from three aircraft carriers that had been away from Pearl Harbor in December 1941 got a bearing on the Japanese fleet and sunk four Japanese aircraft carriers, permanently crippling Japan's navy. The Battle of Midway was one of the first major naval battles in history where the enemy fleets never actually saw or came into contact with each other.
By the time the Battle of Midway was over, the defeat was so devastating that it was actually kept secret from all but the highest echelons of the Japanese government. Along with the loss of hundreds of aircraft and over 3,000 men killed, the four Japanese aircraft carriers lost, when compared to America's one lost carrier, was critical considering America's huge shipbuilding superiority. However, the Battle of Midway could also have easily turned out differently. Japan began the battle with more carriers, more and better aircraft, and more experienced crews than the Americans, and if the battle of the Coral Sea was any indication, the two sides had irrefutable proof of the dominance of the aircraft carrier in the Pacific. The implications of earlier clashes were now starkly underlined, and the fighting was now clearly about timing. The carrier fleets were incredibly powerful and crucially important, yet at the same time they were hugely vulnerable weapons systems. The protagonists at Midway were putting into practice a newly emerging naval doctrine, one which ultimately meted out a terrible punishment to the side that miscalculated. Carrier versus carrier combat had come of age.
The Guadalcanal Campaign, which ran from August 1942 to February 1943, was a bitter and protracted struggle that also happened to be a strange and transitional confrontation quite unlike any other in the long Pacific War. In conjunction with the American victory at the Battle of Midway, Guadalcanal represented the crucial moment when the balance of power in the Pacific tipped in favor of the Allies, but the idea that Guadalcanal would be such a significant battle would have come as a surprise to military strategists and planners on both sides.
Eventually, nearly 100,000 soldiers fought on the island, and the ferocity with which the Japanese fought was a fitting prelude to campaigns like Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The campaign would include six separate naval battles, three large-scale land clashes, and almost daily skirmishing and shelling. Not surprisingly, the campaign exacted a heavy toll, with more than 60 ships sunk, more than 1200 aircraft destroyed, and more than 38,000 dead. While the Japanese and Americans engaged at sea and in the skies, of the 36,000 Japanese defenders on the ground, over 30,000 of them would be dead by the end of the Guadalcanal campaign, while the Americans lost about 7,000 killed.
By the end of the fighting, the Guadalcanal Campaign had unquestionably become a turning point in the Pacific War, representing both the last gasp of the Japanese offensive and the first stirrings of the American onslaught.
The Turning Points in the Pacific comprehensively covers the events leading up to the campaign, analyzes the decisions made by the battles' most important leaders, and explains the aftermath of the American victories. Along with a bibliography and pictures of important people and places, you will learn about Guadalcanal like you never have before, in no time at all.