A wholly satisfying history of America’s most satisfying naval victory, won in June 1942 with vastly inferior forces.
Symonds (History Emeritus/U.S. Naval Academy; The Civil War at Sea, 2009, etc.) writes that America’s overwhelming industrial superiority doomed Japan, but adds that this was nowhere in evidence following Pearl Harbor, when its immense fleet with 10 aircraft carriers dwarfed the United States’ four. By April, Japan had performed so well that leaders debated what to do next. The winner was charismatic Admiral Yamamoto, whose victory at Pearl Harbor gave him unprecedented authority. He proposed attacking tiny Midway Island, 1,200 miles west of Hawaii, claiming that this would draw American carriers to its defense, and their destruction would force a negotiated peace. Yamamoto’s superiors opposed the plan but caved in. Thanks to American code breakers, U.S. forces knew Japanese intentions—useful information although not as vital as some historians claim. Approaching Midway, each fleet searched for and located the other almost simultaneously. In the subsequent action, both sides experienced the confusion, blunders and blind chance that invariably accompanies battles. Better luck and fewer blunders favored the U.S., which sank four Japanese carriers.
Essentially a history of the Pacific war from January to June 1942 (Midway does not enter the picture until 100 pages in), this is a lucid, intensely researched, mildly revisionist account of a significant moment in American military history.