REVIEW Ì Miracle at Midway

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REVIEW Ì Miracle at Midway ½ Here is the definitive history of the battle of Midway an American victory that marked the turning point of the war in the Pacific during World War II Told with the same stylistic flair and attention to detail as the bestselling At Dawn We Slept Miracle at Midway brings together eyewitness accounts from the men who commanded Rring even suspenseful narrative The clearest and most complete account so far Newsday Something special among war histories No other gives both sides of the battle in as detailed and telling a manner Chicago Sun Times A gripping and convincing account The Philadelphia Inuire. This book was very informative and well written I love it that it told how the battle of Midway went from both the American and Japanese prospective as I believe to get the best understanding of history it's important to know how all sides of a battle felt and what they went throughUntil I read this I'd never read a book about the Battle of Midway I learned a lot from this book I would totally recommend it to history lovers of this era

Gordon W. Prange ¹ 8 REVIEW

Here is the definitive history of the battle of Midway an American victory that marked the turning point of the war in the Pacific during World War II Told with the same stylistic flair and attention to detail as the bestselling At Dawn We Slept Miracle at Midway brings toget. I remember being at church one Sunday when I was maybe ten years old The service ended and my family joined the other parishioners in the banuet hall for donuts While others contentedly chewed their jelly glazes I kept fidgeting and asking when we could leave I almost made a scene; in fact I might have made a scene The reason I wanted to get home to watch the movie Midway on TBS This was in the days when TBS showed an odd mishmash of Atlanta Braves games and John Wayne movies; this was also in the days before DVR And while we had a VCR there was never a day when we could figure out how to set the timer to record If you've never seen Midway there's no reason to now It's a curiosity piece The cast is like a who's who of 70s Hollywood Henry Fonda Charlton Heston Robert Mitchum James Coburn Glenn Ford Hal Holbrook Cliff Robertson Robert Wagner Dabney Coleman Tom Selleck and Erick Estrada And yes since you asked that is a pre Karate Kid Pat Morita as Admiral Ryunosuke Kusaka I don't know for certain but apparently this all star cast ate up much of the budget because the battle scenes are a choppily edited pastiche of crappy model work documentary film footage from John Ford newsreel footage of other naval battles and clips from other better movies such as Tora Tora Tora and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo Back then though I loved it That's what it means to be a kid to love things that have no artistic merit That's why I have no respect for children Their aesthetic development is patheticIt's taken all these long years for me to get around to actually reading a book dedicated to the Battle of Midway Fought on June 4 1942 six months after Pearl Harbor Midway is now considered to be the turning point in the Pacific War The Japanese navy after years of running untrammeled got pummeled by the Americans and lost four aircraft carriers Things didn't get any easier of course since Guadalcanal Saipan Pelelieu Iwo Jima and Okinawa still lay ahead but the Japanese never seriously threatened American interests again Miracle at Midway is the seuel to Gordon Prange's classic telling of Pearl Harbor At Dawn We Slept I say seuel because Prange was dead long before this book came out and for that matter before At Dawn We Slept was published I'm okay with the latter work because it seems to have been formed from a nearly finished manuscript and was probably close in form and substance to what Prange himself would have produced had he lived That is not the case with Miracle at Midway Everything about it seems truncated unfinished half assed and semi complete Whereas At Dawn We Slept spent a great deal of time fleshing out all the participants Miracle at Midway doesn't even try We get one sentence introductions for most of the personages There is a dramatis personae in the front which was sorely missing in At Dawn We Slept but that only tells you the rank of each person not why they're important As a result unfamiliar Japanese names tend to meld You also have to stay sharp lest you confuse your Yamamoto with your Yamaguchi or your Nagano with your Nagumo At Dawn We Slept spent hundreds of pages detailing the gestational process of the Pearl Harbor attack plans Miracle at Midway dispenses with these formalities in just a handful of pages Partially this is a historical reality Having achieved unprecedented success the Japanese weren't really sure what to do next They kind of pulled Midway out of theirWell they didn't think it through However Prange kind of glosses over the rift between Yamamoto's Combined Fleet and the Naval General Staff Conseuently Yamamoto comes off far better than he deserves when in reality he was the driving force behind attacking the Americans at Pearl Harbor and then used that cachet to force the Midway operation instead of following Admiral Kusaka's advice to create a defense cordon The treatment of the American side is just as rushed Only a couple pages are utilized to discuss America's code breaking abilities in general and Col Joseph Rochefort's AF hunch in particular In short America cracked about one word in five; Rochefort noticed that the Japanese kept making mention of an objective AF Believing AF to be Midway Rochefort directed Midway to send a message in the clear that its fresh water condenser was broken The Americans then caught and broke a Japanese message that said AF was running low on fresh water Very clever This is a relatively slim volume and before you know it the battle is at hand Now Midway is uite complex For instance it's opening stages were decided by scout planes and what they did and did not see That means you read a lot about certain planes flying certain vectors and whatnot Now unless you have committed the latitudes and longitudes of the north Pacific to memory this is a little hard to visualize That's where maps come in Maps that lay out search parameters Maps that show the relative positions of the fleets Maps that show the flights of each of carrier groups Unfortunately maps are few and far between and the ones that exist are not very clear or helpful Once the battle itself gets started you learn one thing very uickly Prange and his collaborators is not Walter Lord His use of anecdotes and oral history doesn't rise to a dramatic pitch because we've never been introduced to these people They're just names in a book This is not to say that there is a dearth of drama just that it never reaches out of the page grabs you by the collar and commands you to keep reading On the plus side Prange's treatment of the Japanese is especially fascinating often morbidly so; it was uite interesting to read stories of Japanese junior officers trying to prevent their commanding officers from committing suicide when the outcome of battle was made clear One of my chief criticisms in the confused presentation of the battle As noted above this was a complex fight spread across thousands of suare miles A certain amount of confusion is to be expected and perhaps adds to the verisimilitude I mean you got American land based bombers attacking the Japanese fleet; Japanese bombers attacking Midway; American land based fighters defending Midway; American carrier bombers and torpedo planes attacking the Japanese carriers; and Japanese carrier based bombers and torpedo planes attacking American carriers There's a ton of overlap with simultaneous action in three or locations If you overlaid all the flight plans on a map I suspect you would have a latticework that blots out the ocean Prange though doesn't do a great job of clarifying things He avoids the simplest solution which would be datelined chapter headings a chronology is produced in the appendix Things are made murkier because Prange is constantly relating fallacious Japanese and American reports about the damage they caused However he never takes the time to clarify what actually happened Thus you are left to find out on your own that the various high level horizontal bombers B 26s and B 17s did exactly no damage whatsoever to any ships even though the respective airmen claimed to have sunk everything but Hirohito's private yacht Miracle at Midway's worth comes from its scholarship Prange certainly did his homework reviewed the proper files and interviewed all the important living participants He gives a very objective account of the battle and avoids the simple mythologizing that mark so many accounts of this battle For example Prange doesn't fall victim to the legend of USS Hornet's famed Torpedo Suadron 8 The Torpedo 8 of legend dove on the Japanese carriers without fighter cover and were completely wiped out; however their sacrifice was not in vain because it pulled the Japanese fighter cover down to sea level allowing American dive bombers to come in uncontested The reality as Prange writes it is also the miracle of the title is that three dive bombing groups coincidentally converged on the Japanese carriers at the same time and in a matter of moments had knocked three of them out of the battle The book ends with two helpful sections analyzing the battle from both the Japanese and American perspectives These short sections actually clarified a lot that had confused me earlier I found that being retroactively un confused actually added to my enjoyment So go figure Midway is one of the most important battles ever fought Sure we would've eventually won World War II even had we lost but it would've been a much darker story for all sides If you want to learn about it there are a couple places to do so First is with Gordon Prange's Miracle at Midway which despite its faults is the benchmark English language study The other place you can go is the movie Midway in which Erick Estrada plays a cocky torpedo bomber and Charlton Heston single handedly sinks the Japanese carrier Hiru Take your pick

SUMMARY Ê eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF ¹ Gordon W. Prange

Miracle at MidwayHer eyewitness accounts from the men who commanded and fought on both sides The sweeping narrative takes readers into the thick of the action and shows exactly how American strategies and decisions led to the triumphant victory that paved the way for the defeat of Japan A sti. Gordon Prange 1910 1980 was a professor of history at the University of Maryland for many years except notably during the years 1942 to 1951 when he served first in the United States Navy and later as chief historian in General Douglas MacArthur's staff during the post war military occupation of Japan His latter position enabled him to interview Japanese military and civilian witnesses to World War II immediately after the event His co workers published his historical manuscripts after his death leading to two popular and technically excellent books; this book and At Dawn We Slept about the Japanese attack on Pearl HarborEverything was going Japan's way by June 1942 Since December seventh of the previous year victory had followed confrontations with the Americans and the British including the successful attack which sunk or seriously damaged all US Navy's Pacific based battleships at Pearl Harbor Japan had not intended on starting a prolonged war but it was necessary to sweep the naval forces of the allies from the Pacific Ocean in order to secure a chain of bases that would protect the Japanese homeland from attack while obtaining the material resources of Malaya and the Dutch East Indies Central to the plan was the inflicting of a demoralizing blow to the American navy sufficient to convince the United States to sue for peace with Japan at all costs Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto's audacious Pearl Harbor attack plan was executed with precision but the victory was not complete because the United States' aircraft carriers were not in port During the following six months Yamamoto was entrusted with formulating a new plan to destroy the remnants of the American fleet He focused on Midway Atoll where the United States maintained a naval base halfway between North America and Japan He figured correctly that if the Japanese Combined Fleet attacked Midway with an air bombardment and invasion the American fleet would be drawn out from Hawaii to Midway The initial attack would be conducted by task forces consisting of four of Japan's fleet carriers from Pearl Harbor Akagi Kaga Soryu and Hiryu When the Americans arrived another fleet traveling several hundred miles behind the Japanese carriers led by large battleships would engage and annihilate the Americans The Americans were able to detect this plan by way of intercepted radio messages in the Japanese JN25 cipher code which had been partially cracked Therefore when the Japanese carrier spearhead arrived on the scene the Americans were already deployed and searching the area for the location of the attackers' ships You could spend all day talking about all of the various aspects of the ensuing conflict but better to just read Prange's excellent and complete account The important thing about this battle is that Japan could have pulled off a victory here even given their loss of complete surprise The Americans only had two undamaged aircraft carriers the Enterprise and Hornet and far fewer support ships than Japan A miracle of sorts was worked by US Navy support personnel in Hawaii who worked nonstop to patch up a third carrier USS Yorktown which had been heavily damaged at the Battle of Coral Sea in the previous month Yorktown should have been sent back to Washington state for at least a month for repairs; instead the ship was made battle ready in forty eight hours of furious work at Pearl Harbor and was sent to MidwayPrange lays out all of the amazing events which followed The actions of June 4th which was the second day of the battle were the most eventful The most important lesson from the book is that all military planning and preparation give way to events at the scene of action when commanders must make fateful sometimes instant decisions and entrust the personnel who actually face the enemy to work out a way to succeed An entire complex operation can boil down to the actions taken in a few critical moments Prange describes how the decision of the American commanding admiral Frank Jack Fletcher to launch his aircraft against the Japanese as early as possible when the round trip flying distance was at the upper limit of his airplanes' fuel range led to a fortuitous encounter with the Japanese carriers at their most vulnerable All the Americans had to do after finding the Japanese carriers was to sink the ships while they were frantically trying to fuel and refuel arm and rearm two waves of attack aircraft which were crowding their decks This day almost led to complete disaster for the Americans however when almost all of the aircraft from two suadrons of torpedo bombers were shot out of the sky without inflicting any damage to the Japanese ships Some of the book's most fascinating reading concerns how succeeding American dive bombers were able to turn Soryu Kaga and Akagi into floating infernos within the time period of six minutes A human element to this story is provided through the experience of Ensign George Gay a pilot of one of the aircraft from Hornet's Torpedo Suadron Eight consisting of fifteen two man crewed TBD Devastators Gays' and the other fourteen aircraft of his suadron were shot down He was able to ditch his plane in the water and found himself floating in the midst of the bombings and explosions of the Japanese aircraft carriers He was able to elude detection and capture while swimming for thirty hours after which an American patrol plane rescued him He was the only one of the thirty men in his suadron to survivePrange tells us the developments of the rest of that and ensuing days which included the loss of the Hiryu for the Japanese and the Yorktown for the Americans Many Americans would not be aware that the Japanese invaded the Aluetian Islands in Alaska simultaneous with Midway Other notable personalities participated in this conflict These included the Japanese carrier commander Vice Admiral Nagumo Chuichi who had to abandon his flagship Akagi after an American bomb penetrated to the hangar deck and exploded among the aircraft fuel and bombs located there The American Commander in Chief in the Pacific Admiral Chester Nimitz devised and implemented the successful American plan of attack The Americans also benefited from Rear Admiral Fletcher's second in command Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance who ably led the American carrier task force when the loss of Fletcher's flagship Yorktown made it impossible for Fletcher to continue his task Without a doubt the most fateful action by any American in the battle was the decision of suadron commander of SBD Dauntless dive bombers C Wade McClusky Jr who knowing that his planes were running dangerously low on fuel searching for the Japanese fleet continued the search and located and attacked Nagumo's carriersIt was evident that something momentous had transpired by the time both navies withdrew from the scene During a miraculous six minutes the tide of the war had changed direction From this point on the Japanese Navy's strategic invasion capabilities would be lost while the offensive initiative would gradually turn over to the United States Navy The Japanese had two other fleet carriers which did not make the Midway fight due to damage received at Coral Sea but they lost than two third of their attack carriers at Midway Just as fateful was the almost complete loss of these ships' highly experienced aircrews and aircraft mechanics They even lost possibly their best carrier operations officer Vice Admiral Yamaguchi who went down with his ship Hiryu Japan would never be able to recover fully from this loss of valuable assets while the American ship building and crew training program would turn out several dozen larger effective fleet aircraft carriers before the end of the war