A fastidious account of World War II’s critical Battle of Guadalcanal.
Author and historian Friedman (Afternoon of the Rising Sun: The Battle of Leyte Gulf, 2001) pens an impressive, comprehensive treatise on what he views as the second World War’s most pivotal battle. The island of Guadalcanal occupied a strategic position in the Pacific theatre, and military planners from both Japan and the United States believed it was key to controlling the region. When the confrontation began in August 1942, the outcome of the war in the Pacific was very much in question, if not entirely leaning in Japan’s favor. The Japanese were clever and aggressive foes, the first to put significant numbers of men and a base on the island. But, as Friedman shows, they vastly underestimated the Americans’ resolve and presence in the region. From their dominant position in the Pacific arena, the Japanese were eventually reduced to a defensive crouch, a mind-set that plagued them for the remainder of the war. A natural storyteller, Friedman’s account of the conflict is told in a compelling, narrative fashion that deftly pulls the reader through the book’s hefty page count. He does an excellent job analyzing both the micro–and macro–aspects of the battle, smoothly switching between the intimate conversations of military leaders and the historical and political implications of an American victory in the war. Friedman is also careful to present a balanced, non-nationalistic approach to the conflict; the Japanese military is frequently portrayed as a cunning foil to the Americans’ more headstrong forces. Maps, charts and even diagrams of planes keep the pages moving and will wet the tongue of any amateur military strategist. It’s a thoroughly, enthusiastically researched book that can only come from the desk of a true connoisseur of military history.
An impressive, meticulous and enjoyable must for any history buff's bookshelf.