At a time when histories of military and naval engagements seem to be overflooding publishers' lists, it is encouraging to find one such book so excellently researched and written as to rank among the important histories of the year. Savo---the story of the great defeat suffered by the U.S. Navy at Savo Island in 1942---is such a book. Written with restraint and yet involvement, objective as one might ask an American to be, fascinating in the movement of time, the observance of detail, it makes a story ""one can hardly put down."" Great attention is given to Admiral Mikawa's powerful cruiser fleet whose job it is to attack U.S. Marine landings on Guadalcanal. There are no histronics here, no melodramatic, over-simplified characterizations of the Japanese. In turn the American cruiser force which sets sail in search of the Japanese, then disastrously finds them at night, is also carefully portrayed. The rapid sinking of three American cruisers and one Australian--Quincy Vincennes, Astoria, and Canberra---is told with dramatic directness. And the lessons learned by the Navy in that smarting defeat are analyzed in light of how they affected later Pacific operations. An excellent, highly-readable book.