The navy's big switch from battleship to aircraft carrier power is exhaustively reviewed here. Reynolds, a young historian, wrote this account on a U.S. Naval Academy research grant. His ""analytical history"" occasionally is critical of navy policy or strategy, but on the whole he sticks to explaining the implications of what happened, not of what might have happened. The Fast Carrier Task Force came of age in World War II, and by the end of the war the transformation from ""a battleship-oriented to an air-centered navy"" was complete. Reynolds follows carrier task force operations, particularly in the Central Pacific, throughout the war. From leaders to logistics, every step in development is covered. Initially, aircraft were used as back-up operations for amphibious assaults; later airpower itself became the ""dominant factor."" Such problems as night capability, implementation of radar reconnaissance, and developing plane technology figure prominently. Reynolds' book, clearly not a popular history, will serve only the serious history and aviation reader.