With The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors and Ship of Ghosts, James D. Hornfischer created essential and enduring narratives about America’s World War II Navy, works of unique immediacy distinguished by rich portraits of ordinary men in extremis and exclusive new information. Now he does the same for the deadliest, most pivotal naval campaign of the Pacific war: Guadalcanal.
Neptune’s Inferno is at once the most epic and the most intimate account ever written of the contest for control of the seaways of the Solomon Islands, America’s first concerted offensive against the Imperial Japanese juggernaut and the true turning point of the Pacific conflict. This grim, protracted campaign has long been heralded as a Marine victory. Now, with his powerful portrait of the Navy’s sacrifice - three sailors died at sea for every man lost ashore - Hornfischer tells for the first time the full story of the men who fought in destroyers, cruisers, and battleships in the narrow, deadly waters of “Ironbottom Sound.” Here, in brilliant cinematic detail, are the seven major naval actions that began in August of 1942, a time when the war seemed unwinnable and America fought on a shoestring, with the outcome always in doubt. But at Guadalcanal the U.S. proved it had the implacable will to match the Imperial war machine blow for violent blow.
Working from new interviews with survivors, unpublished eyewitness accounts, and newly available documents, Hornfischer paints a vivid picture of the officers and enlisted men who took on the Japanese in America’s hour of need.
©2011 James D. Hornfischer (P)2011 Random House Audio
“With the publication of Neptune's Inferno, a masterpiece of 20th century naval history, it's time to declare James Hornfischer a national treasure, a member of the distinguished band of brothers - Stephen Ambrose, Shelby Foote, Ken Burns, Spielberg and Hanks - whose sacred mission has been vital to America's journey, preserving the stories of our fathers and grandfathers for future generations, before those stories fade forever out of our consciousness into the shadows of time.”(Bob Shacochis, National Book Award winner, author of The Immaculate Invasion)
"Hornfischer has produced an account that is visceral, yet technical; sweeping, yet personal. It’s a terrific read, and an important new addition to the literature on this most important naval campaign in the Pacific." (Jonathan Parshall, co-author of Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway)
"Hornfischer’s accounts of naval combat in the Pacific are simply the best in the business." (Ian W. Toll, author of Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy)
Just like The Last Stand Of The Tin Can Sailors, Hornfischer draws me into a sometimes chaotic battle, and this one far greater in scope and length than the previous, giving me just enough detail without losing the big picture. His descriptions aren't cumbersome or tedious but paint an epic of heroes, monstrous destructive machines and the struggles of men just like you and I. I've read several books on the Guadalcanal Campaign and Neptune's Inferno with ease, reveals the desperate situation the USA as well as the USN grappled with in the Summer of 1942. He made me yearn to hear more of the plight of the Marines and Cactus Airforce but gave enough to round out the telling and still stay focused. Perhaps in another book?
The book was engaging . . . no, riveting! I'd wager most Americans have heard of Guadalcanal. I know I had, I saw The Guadalcanal Diary, my father notched 10 war patrols aboard the submarine USS Sailfish in the Pacific, however he was not near iron bottom sound during the epic battle. This exceptional offering was as if I was hearing about this island for the first time.
For me, ANY book is better than a movie on the same subject. Also, a history book needs to be crafted very carefully so as to not end up dry. Hornfischer made it come alive! I enjoy detail, but others may not. Inferno was rich in detail as well as an honest effort to cover all aspects of the battle even when unsettling or negative. I had been mistaken, or had forgotten, that this was more than a Marine show. The Navy suffered immense losses and bad luck there, and also resounding success and good fortune. I found myself in awe of the graphic descriptions of naval battle in all its horrific action. I was shocked at the errors in tactics that caused some of the US losses. I was equally thrilled with the equally brilliant changes on the fly by some commanders which went against all previous schooling in surface warfare.
I found myself being taught history without knowing it was happening. The author remained fluid and readable from beginning to end, which I feel is very rare in this genre. Most lose ends were tied up at the end in a very satisfying manor. Hornfischer's word pictures were so vivid that I would have to stop the audio at times to let them play in my mind for a few minutes.
If you wish to learn more about Tom Brokaw's Greatest Generation, this epic book will satisfy! Be brave as this story may not be for the faint of heart. I found myself saying "unbelievable" under my breath many times. I choose not to give up much story detail here, but rather to convince anyone who might be considering Neptune's Inferno to buckle up and immerse yourself in a very meaningful book!
The moments of the first battle
Dean did an excellent job. He is the right narrator for this book. Spot on.
For anyone that has a passing interest in naval history you must get this book. This was a pivotal moment in the Pacific. Not many people know about these battles and Hornfischer does an excellent job of telling them. This was where the navy blees more than the army or marines did. These were cutthroat battles at ranges that were pointblank. Two admirals were killed in combat during them. This is the battle where Halsey did his best work of the war.
Actor/director/teacher. Live most of the time in Beijing now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.
The challenge for a writer of popular military history is to show both the forest and the trees (and occasionally even the moss, daisies and thistles) without ending up with a tedious mishmash. Hornfischer succeeds brilliantly. He establishes a fairly extensive and comprehensible overview and refreshes it regularly and effectively. At the same time he provides us with a wealth of human detail and tour de force descriptive writing which brings harrowing moments to vivid, even excruciating, life. As a result we witness the battles in a way which even the participants could not in that we observe with a much more comprehensive understanding of what we are seeing. It is like watching a game played out on a chessboard during which we watch the shocking details of the death of every sacrificed pawn or knight.
I particularly like the way the author gives individuals at all levels their due while never glossing over their human errors and frailties.
The narration is understated and sure handed. A fitting match for the style and subject matter of the book.
I found it particularly useful to refer to online maps and alternative descriptions of the battles in questions as I listened to this book. Just a suggestion.
As a very interested WWll Hobbyist this Book was a true eye opener. This is the 1st Book I have ever seen that portrayed the valliant actions of our Sailors in "Ship Surface action & I have read many WWll Books. Any WWll History buff would do no better than yo give this Book a listen. Great reading helps do justice to the subject matter. I had always believed Ship Surface actions to have been trumped by Fast Carriers. I was sure wrong. As an exMarine I tip my hat to the author, the reader & escecially the Sailors, Brave Men all! Don't miss this one! John T. Wagner, Ohio
This is a terrific book. It details the horrors of the sea battles in and around Guadalcanal as the U.S Navy sought to recover the initiative in the Pacific. Hornfischer does not gloss over the tragedy of the bloody fighting or the many tactical blunders of the inexperienced American admirals as they learned their trade at the cost of thousands of American lives. Highly recommended.
I bought this book after listening to "Masters of the Air," the story of the American air war over Europe. Dean is an outstanding narrator, polished, fluent, and totally familiar with his story. One of the best on Audible.
Hornfischer answers the question that Guadalcanal Marines have been asking since 1942: "Where was the Navy?"
While compelling and interesting (to me), Hornfischer is so thourough that at times it can be a little overwhelming. I love that kind of detail, and count Hornfischer as one of my favorite history authors, but it can take some slogging to get through it all, as he doesn't want to leave anyone out of the narrative.
High. It is in depth about a phase of the Guadalcanal campaign that has been overlooked, and it also includes enough personal details to be gripping.
The different eyewitnesses stories.
Freedom to use my hands. I do not listen to audiobooks for the experience, but for the convenience of "reading" while doing repetitive tasks like piling firewood.
The vulnerability of battleships if the attacker can close the range.
the narrator is very slow. I recommend 125-150% reading speed.
Hornfischer is one of the best naval writers of our time. In Neptune's Inferno he discusses the naval battle for Guadalcanal as the real turning point of the Pacific war-- rather than Midway. He thoroughly discusses U.S. Marine Corps mythology disparaging the Navy's abandonment of Marine forces on Guadalcanal-- mythology which is partially true due to Naval strategy, pre-determined and agreed to before the landing was ever made. He also thoroughly examines the subsequent decision by the Navy to commit everything to the overall success of the operation leading to a 3:1 casualty ratio, Navy to Marine Corps, which ultimately led to the defeat of the Japanese.
Yes - I listened to this whilst I mowed and gardened - made weekly chores a treat.
Not really applicable for this non fictional work
No, but I like him reading this book and would recommend him.
Not my call.
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