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The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History) | [Craig L. Symonds]

The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History)

There are few moments in American history in which the course of events tipped so suddenly and so dramatically as at the Battle of Midway. At dawn of June 4, 1942, a rampaging Japanese navy ruled the Pacific. By sunset, their vaunted carrier force (the Kido Butai) had been sunk and their grip on the Pacific had been loosened forever. In this absolutely riveting account of a key moment in the history of World War II, one of America's leading naval historians, Craig L. Symonds, paints an unforgettable portrait of ingenuity, courage, and sacrifice.
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Publisher's Summary

There are few moments in American history in which the course of events tipped so suddenly and so dramatically as at the Battle of Midway. At dawn of June 4, 1942, a rampaging Japanese navy ruled the Pacific. By sunset, their vaunted carrier force (the Kido Butai) had been sunk, and their grip on the Pacific had been loosened forever.

In this absolutely riveting account of a key moment in the history of World War II, one of America's leading naval historians, Craig L. Symonds, paints an unforgettable portrait of ingenuity, courage, and sacrifice. Symonds begins with the arrival of Admiral Chester A. Nimitz at Pearl Harbor after the devastating Japanese attack and describes the key events leading to the climactic battle, including both Coral Sea - the first battle in history against opposing carrier forces - and Jimmy Doolittle's daring raid of Tokyo. He focuses throughout on the people involved, offering telling portraits of Admirals Nimitz, Halsey, Spruance, and numerous other Americans, as well as the leading Japanese figures, including the poker-loving Admiral Yamamoto. Indeed, Symonds sheds much light on the aspects of Japanese culture - such as their single-minded devotion to combat, which led to poorly armored planes and inadequate fire-safety measures on their ships - that contributed to their defeat.

The author's account of the battle itself is masterful, weaving together the many disparate threads of attack - attacks which failed in the early going - that ultimately created a five-minute window in which three of the four Japanese carriers were mortally wounded, changing the course of the Pacific war in an eye-blink.

Symonds is the first historian to argue that the victory at Midway was not simply a matter of luck, pointing out that Nimitz had equal forces, superior intelligence, and the element of surprise. Nimitz had a strong hand, Symonds concludes, and he rightly expected to win.

©2011 Craig L. Symonds (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 04-07-15
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 04-07-15 Member Since 2015

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

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    "Excellent"

    I almost skipped over this book as over the years I have read so many books about the Battle of Midway; I thought to myself do I want to read another book on this subject. I am glad I did decide to read this book as I learned more about the battle from it.
    Midway was a pivotal battle of WWII. Symond is a professor emeritus from the U. S. Naval Academy.

    Many historians including Symonds have compared the Battle of Midway to that of Lord Nelson’s win at the Battle of Trafalgar. The comparison is apt as both battles had far-reaching effects on the course of the conflict during which they occurred.

    The U.S. Navy was on a defensive position after Pearl Harbor. At the battle of Midway the Japanese lost four of the largest aircraft carriers with their crews and aircraft. The U.S. Navy gained a strategic initiative that it maintained for the rest of the War.

    Symond insist that victory was the result of decisions and actions taken by certain individuals. He proceeds during the book to build his case. Symond recounts and explains the events of the battle both from the Japanese and American viewpoint.

    Symond also covers the story of the Navy code breakers and how critical that was to the success of the battle as the Navy knew the Japanese intentions. At the end of the book Symonds reviews what happened to each of the key people after the War.

    Symond provides a lucid, intensely researched account of the battle of Midway. If you are interested in WWII history this is book you must read. James Lurie narrated the book.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremy NEW YORK, NY, United States 11-22-12
    Jeremy NEW YORK, NY, United States 11-22-12 Member Since 2012

    This is the kind of styles I like: good pace, cerebral, well-documented, meaty, mind-bending.

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    "A unique tale of tactical wars"

    Most history books talk about wars a lot, but they tend to focus on the strategic decisions, those big decisions that change the course of a war, like a major military offensive, the supply channels, the number of troops or equipment commandeered, etc.

    This book is very different in that it is about the tactical detail of one military operation. For this reason it is also unique and I recommend to anyone who is interested about how war really work, on the field. For example, the general story about Midway is that the Japanese did not know that the aircraft carriers would be there and were taken by surprise. But what does it mean to be taken by surprise? Didn't they have their own carriers (and more of them) if the US carriers were actually on site? The tactical side explains that a single bomb will sink a carrier and that, silly enough, the Japanese had indicated their position as a result of a ship chasing a US submarine, that they had sent many of their attack planes on a raid instead of against the US carriers, that they couldn't even locate the latter, and that they had armed their bombs up on the carrier making them even more vulnerable.

    These are just many things that emerge from the tactical analysis, but there is much more interesting tale about how specific individuals did affect the entire operation, another testimony to the importance of just one person for an entire war.








    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rex Rosetta, South Africa 07-10-12
    Rex Rosetta, South Africa 07-10-12
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    "Good read (listen) for history buffs"
    What made the experience of listening to The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History) the most enjoyable?

    This is a tale told over and over again. This version was told in a very fresh manner and I enjoyed the narration.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Nimitz: did he have balls!


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The absolute divine intervention of getting the right mix upstairs and on the deck.


    Any additional comments?

    I did not realise how badly the Hornet flyers actually did... I was not aware of the Flight to Nowhere

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Alpharetta, GA, United States 12-29-13
    Christine Alpharetta, GA, United States 12-29-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Spellbinding account."

    This was a wonderful book that described the battle both in terms of the action and also with insight into the influence of culture. The author sites many names of those who were heroic but not officers which keeps us attuned to the people who fought this battle as well as the officers and decision makers. The performance was excellent, this book kept us on the edge of our seats even knowing the ending.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew 12-04-13
    Matthew 12-04-13
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    "You may knock US down, but you can't knock US out"
    Would you listen to The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History) again? Why?

    Absolutely. I had already planned on doing that when I was still listening. There is simply too much information to fully absorb at one time. I've studied Midway in the past and each time I learn more about how close we were to the edge, but how those who fought there never felt defeated.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Not a character because this is non-fiction, but my most heroic person, individually, would be Lt. Commander John C. Waldron of VT-8. A real life leader and hero.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    None. This was a horrible, but necessary event in history.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Yes the story of all of the torpedo squadrons and their attacks, but in particular the attack by squadron eight (VT-8) from the U.S.S. Hornet; this piece of history get's me every time. Here were 15 aircraft each carrying three young men in the prime of life. They didn't want to be there and they didn't want to die. Despite that and knowing full well they were outgunned, without fighter air cover, without dive bomber help for a coordinated attack, and flying slow obsolete aircraft; they went in on their attack runs. They knew the odds were heavily against them, but they brought the planes down low, slow and straight and pressed forward their attack. Each in turn. And they were slaughtered. Only one man survived the attack and none of their torpedoes did any damage to the enemy ships. That is real honor and heroism; not that stuff the enemy was shoveling.


    Any additional comments?

    I actually liked the narrator. His voice, inflection and cadence were appropriate for the telling of this story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Hoeilaart, Belgium 10-14-13
    David Hoeilaart, Belgium 10-14-13 Member Since 2014
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    "A solid book to listen to..."

    The author writes the history in a very clear narrative style. The amount of background is sufficient, and introduced in the proper way. In the end he explains not only the Battle of Midway, but the thinking, strategies, limitations, and advantages that eventually led to the US victory at Midway and in the Pacific War.

    Mr Lurie has a smooth speaking style. He is the kind of narrator that makes you forget that he didn't actually write the book - he is only reading it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan McGrew Safford, AZ 05-09-13
    Dan McGrew Safford, AZ 05-09-13

    Military History and Archaeology

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    "Midway Revisited"
    What other book might you compare The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History) to and why?

    This is a good book that has some very interesting new information, that some of the other books on Midway don't have. There are also flaws in this book as well, such as the deployment of the F4F Wildcat in 1942, Wildcats were operational in Dec 1941, on Wake and Midway, the F2B Buffalos deployed to Midway late in May-June of 1942 were sold to the Dutch government for their use in their colonies but absorbed into the USMC after Java and other Dutch colonies fell to the Japanese.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by James Lurie?

    I would have to be very interested in the book to listen to him again, I almost returned the book but the story held my interest.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No but remembering the sacrifice of the Torpedo Squadrons and VMF 211 is a part of the battle that needs to be remembered


    Any additional comments?

    Despite its short comings this is a book worth reading or listening too.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    thomas charlotte, NC, United States 06-23-15
    thomas charlotte, NC, United States 06-23-15 Member Since 2012

    I focus mainly on History, Endurance Sports and Science/Speculative Fiction books.

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    "The Tipping Point in the War in the Pacific"
    Would you listen to The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History) again? Why?

    I typically don't listen to Audible Books more than once but that does not diminish the importance of this book. This is a detailed account of the battle and the events that led up to it. Well done.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History)?

    I found it interesting that the improvisation of military personnel can be done in real time and have such an impact on the outcome of the battle. I am not military or ex-military and I found it fascinating how the production, deployment and servicing of equipment in the military is done. The logistics are mind boggling and doing it under extreme pressure is difficult to comprehend. Books like The Battle of Midway put it in detailed, perspective.


    Which character – as performed by James Lurie – was your favorite?

    Admiral Nimitz.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    I personally think war movies do a disservice to the courageous men who fought in this war. Their efforts saved the world, and dramatizing it doesn't work for me. This book did a great job in explaining what happened and why. It brings due respect to the actions of men we are all indebted to...


    Any additional comments?

    If you area n avid military historian this book will provide you with the detail you need. If you are a casual military observer and/or American historian you can get lost in the detail, I did at times. But if you are willing to immerse yourself, I think you will learn about a portion of our history that every American should be aware of and exposed to. Just an incredible story of planning, coordination and resolve.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grenadar 06-21-15
    Grenadar 06-21-15
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    "History comes alive"

    I'm s lifelong student of WWII and I still learned stuff from this book. Well written and well read, it held my interest from start to finish. It's more than just Midway, though, telling the stories of the Doolittle raid and the battle of the Coral Sea as very pertinent background for the biggest battle. This was a great listening experience. Highly recommended!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ark1836 06-10-15
    Ark1836 06-10-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Learn How Japan Lost World War II"

    I decided to read this after visiting the World War II Museum in New Orleans. The Battle of Midway was the most important battle of the Pacific Campaign. Prior to Midway, the Japanese won nearly every engagement and seemed unstoppable. Nevertheless, the Japanese feared America's small remaining fleet of aircraft carriers. Japan knew that America's industrial might would result in many more aircraft carriers being built in the future, so Japan had a narrow window to knock America out of the war. Japan believed that destroying the remainder of the American aircraft fleet would force America to reach a peace with Japan. Japan was willing to gamble for total victory.

    Japan launched the attack on Midway as a ploy to draw America's aircraft carriers into a trap. Fortunately for America, code-breakers had intercepted Japanese communications and knew where and when the attack was coming. Instead of surprising and trapping America's carrier fleet, the American Navy sunk every Japanese aircraft carrier sent against Midway. This battle destroyed the myth of Japanese invincibility, buoyed American moral and shifted the tactical advantage decisively in America's favor. This battle represented the high-watermark of the Japanese in World War II and the rest of the war in the Pacific can fairly be described as Japan's death throes following its mortal defeat at Midway.

    Anyone with even a slight interest in World War II history should read this book. The book does a fantastic job reciting the history and going far beyond the well-known outline of events. The book delves into the formula for American victory, such as America's code-breaking activities. I learned from this book that the code-breaking was equal parts science and educated guessing. The book provided many other similar insights. Yet, the book was not a stale history book and remained exciting.

    If I had to pick one part of the book that was most fascinating, it would be the description of the rag-tag hodgepodge of airplanes that America hastily assembled at Midway Island and threw against the Japanese in near hopeless desperation before America's carriers could arrive. Some of America's pilots went up in absolute junk airplanes doing their best to protect Midway and surely knowing that their situation was hopeless. This event underscores the selfless bravery of America's military in this confrontation but really highlights how desperate America's situation was at this point in the war and how easily the battle could have been lost. Even with the advantage of knowing when and where the Japanese would attack, America was still heavily outgunned and outclassed in terms of materials and equipment. It is easy looking back today to think of America as a military juggernaut destined to win the war, but this book will show you the fallacy of that perspective and make you grateful for the "Miracle at Midway."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Kindle Customer
    Costa Blanca, Spain
    10/31/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A very accurate and exciting position of the facts"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    If WW11 in the Pacific is of interest to you, then this will hit the spot.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    They all were, as without them working as a team together the complicated tactics deployed would of failed. Nimitz is the guy that stuck by the intelligence he was given and this proved the right thing to do.


    What about James Lurie’s performance did you like?

    Very punchy and convincing portrayal of the characters that made the Midway island so strategic to the success in the Pacific during WW11


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    The USA's fight back to victory start's here.


    Any additional comments?

    Really entertaining, worth the purchase.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • M. Hubbard
    London
    5/5/15
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    Story
    "Very good"

    Very comprehensive story of the bat title with good narration at a strategic and personal level.
    Engaging in all levels

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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