The history of WWII has been picked nearly clean, writes veteran Greer, with astounding revelations coming fewer and farther between. In this slender study, he offers a few that, while known to most military historians, may come as news to general readers.
Students of the Pacific War, for instance, probably know the importance of the Battle of the Marianas to the eventual turning of the conflict. Greer nicely connects the battle to some for-want-of-a-nail considerations: the deployment of a new class of vessel, the destroyer escort, afforded the navy a particularly effective antisubmarine weapon. When the Japanese admiral in charge of the theater noticed that several of his submarines had suddenly gone missing, he shifted forces to the south, thereby weakening the front along which the Americans attacked. Similarly, Greer notes, the Doolittle raid on Tokyo, apart from affecting Japanese morale, helped convince the admiralty to shorten its defensive perimeter, which served the American fleet well at Midway and the Solomons--had the line extended farther to the south and east, both battles could have been far costlier for the Allies. The innovative Sherman tank was widely criticized, Greer continues, for its high profile, susceptibility to catching fire thanks to its gasoline engine, and relatively weak main gun; however, he adds, that very engine gave the Sherman an edge over comparatively underpowered German diesel tanks, and, as a descendant of a standard Chrysler truck engine, it was easily mass-produced and easily maintained. "One could well speculate," Greer writes, "whether General Patton's sudden drive north during December 1944 to relieve Bastogne could have arrived in time had he been equipped with German armor of the era."
Capably written and argued. Though making some useful observations, however, Greer adds little more than a footnote to the larger story of WWII.