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Midnight in the Pacific

Guadalcanal - The World War II Battle That Turned the Tide of War
Narrated by: Kevin Stillwell
Length: 16 hrs and 15 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (229 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

A sweeping narrative history - the first in over 20 years - of America's first major offensive of World War II, the brutal, no-quarter-given campaign to take Japanese-occupied Guadalcanal.

From early August until mid-November of 1942, US marines, sailors, and pilots struggled for dominance against an implacable enemy: Japanese soldiers, inculcated with the bushido tradition of death before dishonor, avatars of bayonet combat - close-up, personal, and gruesome. The glittering prize was Henderson Airfield. Japanese planners knew that if they neutralized the airfield, the battle was won. So did the marines who stubbornly defended it.

The outcome of the long slugfest remained in doubt under the pressure of repeated Japanese air, land, and sea operations. And losses were heavy. At sea, in a half-dozen fiery combats, the US Navy fought the Imperial Japanese Navy to a draw, but at a cost of more than 4,500 sailors. More American sailors died in these battles off Guadalcanal than in all previous US wars, and each side lost 24 warships. On land, more than 1,500 soldiers and marines died, and the air war claimed more than 500 US planes. Japan's losses on the island were equally devastating - starving Japanese soldiers called it "the island of death".

But when the attritional struggle ended, American marines, sailors, and airmen had halted the Japanese juggernaut that for five years had whirled through Asia and the Pacific. Guadalcanal was America's first major ground victory against Japan and, most importantly, the Pacific War's turning point.

Published on the 75th anniversary of the battle and utilizing vivid accounts written by the combatants at Guadalcanal, along with marine corps and army archives and oral histories, Midnight in the Pacific is both a sweeping narrative and a compelling drama of individual marines, soldiers, and sailors caught in the crosshairs of history.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 Joseph Wheelan (P)2017 Hachette Audio

What members say

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Don't start here or you'll be confused.

Would you try another book from Joseph Wheelan and/or Kevin Stillwell?

Maybe. Guadalcanal is a tough topic. This author tries to bring the personal part of the story home, and frequently does a good job of that, bringing humanity through the voices of the participants. On the other hand, he does a poor job providing the overall context of what's going on. This fight is a huge story of outstanding and poor leadership, of great individual bravery and some cowardice, often by the folks in charge.

The author misses some key things. He gives us a great account of Puller going aboard the destroyer and saving his men, he misses the human part of the exchange between Puller and the ship captain about who's got the better life (and potential death).

The USS San Francisco kills as many sailors aboard the USS Atlanta than the Japanese kill Marines on Bloody Ridge. Callahan dies on the San Francisco. The author makes assumptions about what Callahan thought during the battle and states them as fact when we can't possibly know. Callahan knew his mission was suicide, was brave, incompetent, and six other things all at once, yet that gets lost in the story here.

The book should have been better focused, but I did listen to the end, which I won't do if I think it's a waste of time.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Really no characters in a non-fiction book, but in general, the Marines and sailors do the impossible, and I always wonder if the current generation would be capable of doing the same.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

He mispronounces constantly. He pronounces Yamamoto three different ways. He pronounces Helena two different ways. He mispronounces Callahan. He mispronounces a bunch of Japanese names or gives us multiple pronunciations. He mispronounces or gives us multiple pronunciations of place names on the island. He once says that the Japanese commander is going to commit sui-Sepuku, suggesting he was anticipating "suicide", got the Japanese, and changed mid-word. Annoying.

Do you think Midnight in the Pacific needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No. Needs a second edition to tighten it up.

Any additional comments?

Listen to Tolls' Pacific Crucible. Then listen to Hornfischer's Neptune's Inferno. Listen to Tragaskis' Guadalcanal Diary (which is referenced by Wheelan). Hara's book for the Japanese version (also referenced by Wheelan). There are several books by Marines that are listenable as well, also referenced by Wheelan).

29 of 30 people found this review helpful

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Well done, but...

It’s embarrassing and annoying having a narrator who thinks he knows Japanese, but is clearly clueless.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • John
  • United States
  • 01-09-18

Lots of Repetition

The author repeats anecdotes and quotes so many times that it became very noticeable. At first, I wondered if I was repeating chapters, but then I realized that things were repeated three or four times.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Exact in every detail

A thorough depiction of the beginning of the end of the Japanese Imperial government in WW2. The savagery and bravery of the the US forces is depicted in a critical yet accurate manner. The addition of the US Army and National Guard units completed this historic and epic battle. The US Navy eventually redeemed themselves with heroic battles as the campaign wore on. The combined arms of ground, air and naval units led to the ultimate victory.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Too touchable to forget

No matter which side were those soldiers, respect shall be paid respect for their dedication and sacrifice to their own country

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good overall research and presentation of subject

Overall,well done, deeper than average research, and little conjecture based on contemporary revisionism. I would have liked to see more running commentary on how naval battles and air battles affected day by day outlooks on the campaign, based on first person perspectives, but recognize time and distance have made that difficult. On other hand, the reader of the audible book, or narrator had some missteps, but overall, superior production to some audible accounts that are frustratingly awful pronunciations of places and names of participants and equipment

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Nice overview that does not extrapolate extra story

Good bit of information about the events of Guadalcanal without lots of filling in of blanks to make the story more fun.

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History is for everyone

Wow, I didn’t want to stop listening but I had too from time to time so I could engage my wife. What an awesome book. The narrator was exceptional and gifted to keep me enthralled. What I thought I knew of the battle in the Solomon island was just a surface preparation for the detailed version of this book. I was saddened to hear of the violence of war and the many who gave their lives for their buddies. My uncle served there with the Americal division. All my uncles on my moms side served in the USMC or Army in the pacific war campaigns. Several were wounded in battles. Thank God they all came home but were forever changed.

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solid campaign book

very good enjoyed all of it. very good information on the campaign. very good detail on the naval and air battles

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Best Yet

Listened to Neptune’s Inferno-which was excellent, and three other Guadalcanal histories. This is the best written in that it seems to be more succinct and flowing. The performance is very well done.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-14-17

Superb.

puts u on the ground, in the air n at sea, for the most influential battle in the Pacific in WW2

1 of 2 people found this review helpful