Prados (Normandy Crucible: The Decisive Battle that Shaped World War II in Europe, 2011, etc.) takes on the widely held view that the Battle of Midway in 1942 was the decisive victory that gave Allied forces a key advantage over the Japanese.
This “entrenched interpretation” of the battle does not bear close scrutiny, writes Prados, a senior research fellow at the National Security Archive at George Washington University. While Midway was indeed a major defeat, Japanese strength remained high; it took numerous battles in the Solomon Islands during the following year and a half to truly shift the balance in favor of Allied forces in the Pacific. Prados argues that these victories were due in significant part to effective Allied intelligence efforts, including aerial reconnaissance and code-breaking that “came as close to eliminating the fog of war as can be imagined.” In vivid, immediate prose, Prados details battles from Guadalcanal to a late-1943 siege at Rabaul in New Guinea, showing how cunning strategy allowed the Allies to overcome the Japanese at sea and in the air. Drawing on a wide range of sources, he looks at the fighting from both Allied and Japanese points of view, stressing the importance of intelligence and strategy over numerical advantage. Though the book is largely aimed at military-history aficionados—there are 14 complex battle maps, an aircraft chart and a three-page glossary of military acronyms and abbreviations—Prados provides an accessible history that avoids excessive jargon. Even casual readers of World War II history will find it engaging, and they will likely agree that the author makes a strong case for his revisionist assessment.
A well-crafted addition to the canon of World War II military histories.