Shattered Sword

The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway
Narrated by: Tom Perkins
Length: 24 hrs and 44 mins
Categories: History, Asia
4.6 out of 5 stars (1,065 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Many consider the Battle of Midway to have turned the tide of the Pacific War. It is without question one of the most famous battles in history. Now, for the first time since Gordon W. Prange's best-selling Miracle at Midway, Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully offer a new interpretation of this great naval engagement. Unlike previous accounts, Shattered Sword makes extensive use of Japanese primary sources. It also corrects the many errors of Mitsuo Fuchida's Midway: The Battle That Doomed Japan, an uncritical reliance upon which has tainted every previous Western account. It thus forces a major, potentially controversial reevaluation of the great battle.

Parshall and Tully examine the battle in detail and effortlessly place it within the context of the Imperial Navy's doctrine and technology. With a foreword by leading World War II naval historian John Lundstrom, Shattered Sword is an indispensable part of any military buff's library.

Shattered Sword is the winner of the 2005 John Lyman Book Award for the "Best Book in U.S. Naval History" and was cited by Proceedings as one of its "Notable Naval Books" for 2005.

©2005 Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully (P)2019 Tantor

Critic Reviews

“This incredibly detailed book provides a whole new approach to the study and interpretation of the battle.” (Ships and Shipping)

John Lyman Book Award, Best Book in U.S. Naval History, 2005

Notable Naval Books, Proceedings, 2005.

What listeners say about Shattered Sword

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    5 out of 5 stars

Shattered Myths - These authors got it right?

I have read every book on Midway, starting with Walter Lord's account, Incredible Victory, since I was a teen. Hollywood made one totally inept film on the Battle, which included a romantic subplot. Despite the authors' attempt to downplay it, this victory was a miracle. Admittedly difficult to film due to so many events occurring concurrently. But the filmmakers can find an approach. Shattered Sword is a landmark account of Midway, It contains a much expanded view from the Japanese side, due to translated documents becoming available. There is given in great detail facts about the American and Japanese carriers and their aircraft, as well as the specific of flight operations. (It took the Americans about four times as long to launch a strike force of eighty aircraft as it did the Japanese.) If you are new to Midway, I wouldn't recommend Shattered Sword. Its narrative is too choppy. As the dive bombers are nearing their prey, we pause to look at the construction of Japanese carriers and their damage control capability. The audiobook version does suffer from the lack of the many diagrams, maps and photos that come with the hard book. Miracle at Midway would be a good starting point. The only thing annoying about this volume is the tone of the authors, helped by the smirky voice of the narrator, They sound as if they want to portray themselves as the heroes of Midway by shooting down so many straw men. They claim that the two sides were equal in flight decks and airplanes. Midway Island itself accounted for the fourth American runway. They also claim parity in aircraft carried by each side's carriers. Well, Midway as the equivalent of another American carrier does not float. Midway had a strange collection of air assets ranging from hopelessly obsolete to brand new model. But all shared the same fate of not hitting anything and being almost annihilated by the protective Zeros guarding the carriers. Both had lethal collections of dive bombers that were especially effective at hitting broad flight decks. But the Japanese also possessed crack squadrons of torpedo bombers. Something like ten to sixteen of these with no fighter escort attacked carrier Yorktown, which had its protective fighters in the air. The Japanese aircraft still managed a coordinated attack from both sides that yielded two torpedo hits. All of the ancient and slow torpedo bombers from the American carriers were wiped out by the Zeros protecting their carriers except for a handful which released their torpedos to no effect. To be accurate, four or five made it back to their carriers. Also, the torpedo bombers of the carrier Hornet never attacked the carriers, flying off in the wrong direction. It is not stated, but the reader is given enough information to question whether the leader of those Hornet bombers intentionally flew a course that he knew would miss the carriers, knowing that to find the carriers with their Zeros overhead was certain death for almost all. This is just speculation, backed by no reputable sources. Bottom line: if you're a Midway buff this book is an essential read.

81 people found this helpful

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Detailed Analysis of Midway

This book is written by reconstructing Japanese sources and technical information regarding the operation of Japanese aircraft carriers with the aim of debunking the commonly told "miracle at Midway" narrative. It appears to be a very solid piece of scholarship. The book recounts the battle in a blow by blow description, focusing on the Japanese fleet. The authors present a pretty compelling case that the odds were not as stacked against the U.S. as is often told, particularly given the Japanese deployment of assets. The book also explains how Japanese carrier operations precluded the commonly held view that Japan was ready to launch a counter strike when the U.S. dive bombers arrived. The book delves heavily into Japanese naval doctrine at the time (which focused on offense). The book also notes how Japanese hubris played into what happened. In short, the Japanese underestimated the American will to fight and American capabilities. All of this is interesting, but the book really wallows in details, including detailed accounts of crews fighting the fires on the carriers and Japanese rescue efforts. This is interesting and sometimes compelling, but it may distract some from the main point of the analysis. This is a 24 hour listen, and I think it could have been distilled into a a shorter and more compelling book. The narration is OK. The narrator has a somewhat nasal Midwestern voice that tends to be monotone. Listen to the sample and make sure you can put up with 24 hours of it. This is a great book for history buffs interested in a granular analysis of Midway. For the general reader, it may be too detailed. But it must be said it is an important contribution to the history of World War II.

54 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Much Needed Revision of a Classic Battle

The book is well written and goes a long way toward dispelling the myths that have arisen around the Battle of Midway. It carefully deals with newer research concerning Japanese naval doctrine and the detailed aspects of Japanese carrier operations, but never gets bogged down in tedious detail. It also recounts something of the personalities of the Japanese planners, and while it pulls no punches in describing their dysfunctional attitudes toward the enemy and each other, it tells of many instances of heroism by Japanese sailors, who in many ways became the victims of their own admirals. Highly recommended.

12 people found this helpful

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Fascinating Exposé

I have read a lot of WW2 historical material and naval battles in particular, but this was a truly unique take on Midway offering the viewpoint from the Japanese naval perspective. The success for the US was never a simple as having advanced intelligence of the Japanese battle plan - there were a raft of factors at play (aside from the sheer heroism of the US aviators) and how these factors, peculiar to the Japanese navy, worked so devastatingly against them made for interesting reading. Well researched from some previously unavailable material and firm conclusions drawn from careful and scholarly analysis. Narration was very good.

23 people found this helpful

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historic fiction

I tried to enjoy this book even whith the intro stating it was from the japs perspective and it was a reinterpretation of facts. but I found it total b.s. not a reexamination of history based on facts, but a rewrite of it by downplaying or leaving out facts that didn't tell the true story. the author twist facts to push a false narrative that gives moral equality between the Americans and japs. down playing American exceptionalism while blaming the japs failures on the japs bureaucracy and bad luck. like the evil imperial jap navy is equally to the U.S. navy. he tries to humanize the japs, who dominated, raped, tourtured, and murdered millions. and simultaneously downplayed the awesome heroics of the Americans who, although out gunned, defeated those evil people due to better culture at the strategic level, better generalship at the operational level, and better men at the tactical level. he missed the overwhelming salient lesson of ww2. that the japs were evil bastards who followed a false god and thought they were devine over all other races and were superior people while Americans were each made in Gods image fighting for liberty. if you only have a cursery knowledge of ww2 and this is all you read, you will be ignorant on ww2. this book does a great disservice to historical honesty and integrity and is at best propaganda bolstered by selective facts and false moral equivalently. very bad book.

7 people found this helpful

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Finally. It doesn't get any better then this

Shattered Sword is the definitive work of the Japanese defeat at Midway thru their eyes. A must have for any serious student of Japanese, WW2, or naval history. Meticulously detailed and extensively researched using Japanese sources, this book lays to bed many myths and misconceptions that are often repeated by historians and television documentaries. Shattered sword manages to shove as much info into this book as possible while still keeping it listenable. This book doesnt just tell you "A Val hit Yorktown with a 250 kg bomb"; they tell you who was flying the plane, what angle of attack they came in at, where the bomb hit the ship, how the ships crew reacted to the damage, what direction the ship was going, where the other ships were in the formation, where the next plane was coming from etc. While mostly covering the Japanese side, what is happening on the American side is not completely omitted, it's brought up when relevant. Among other subjects covered are day to day operations on Japanese carriers of the Kido Butai; difficulties launching and coordinating scout planes; anti-aircraft artillery effectiveness; Nagumo's changing by the minute dilemma and the circumstances surrounding his decision making; the reloading of ordinance on the strike planes; the Combat Air Patrol of the Japanese fleet; chances of success invading Midway, and much much more. Usually when I like a book on Audible I will buy it in print. This book was the exception, I have it in print and I bought it on Audible the same day as it was first available. Its just that good. Anyone who would disregard this book is a fool, plain and simple.

42 people found this helpful

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Great book for military professionals

This book is a comprehensive study of this WWII battle, dispelling long-standing myths and providing a wealth of new information about the battle from the Japanese perspective. I recommend buying the book for the serious military professional or historian because the material is too comprehensive for the audio book to serve as a close-at-hand reference.

4 people found this helpful

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A Fantastic and Seminal Work!

I am just another armchair bookworm who appreciates good works dealing with additional Information about pivotal moments in history, especially those dealing with WWII. I was totally unprepared, yet pleasantly surprised, with the meticulous detail and obvious thoroughness that has gone into Shattered Sword. This was truly a page-turner as Parshall and Tully methodically dispelled one misconception after another while tactfully setting the records straight concerning other scholarly attempts to shed light on the battle of Midway. Kudos are also in order for the exceptional narration skills displayed by Tom Perkins, he was the perfect choice for a perfect work!

4 people found this helpful

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This Book Is Special!

This wonderful documentary follows events as if you are hovering among the Japanese characters, watching and listening. You listen in on strategic planning sessions. You sail with the Japanese sailors and admirals. (By the way, the the story also follows the critical American subplots). I am guessing that the authors have spent years interviewing Japanese combatants and pouring over Japanese documents, getting the time lines just right, discovering things that our historians had wrong. Numerous revelations. The authors write seamlessly and understandably; the excellent narrator never distracts. My highest recommendation.

3 people found this helpful

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Best book on Midway!

This historical battle has been the interest of people all over the world for almost 100 years. I learned more from this book than any other I have ever read on Midway. If you like history, battles and in-depth analysis of events then this book is for you. The authors paint a beautiful picture the battle that allows you to have a perspective from both side of the conflict. This book focuses heavily on Japanese carrier operations and how they influenced the battle, but they give a very well rounded description of all involved. Read it, listen to it, it will change your opinion of the battle of Midway.

3 people found this helpful

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  • ST
  • 07-24-20

A superb piece of historical writing

This is an excellent book. The authors, by using previously unexamined sources of information, shed new light on this historic battle and challenge longheld misconceptions about what happened at the Midway Atoll in 1942. It's not entertainment history like Dan Carlin (who is also excellent at what he does). It's meticulously detailed and very little attempt was made to give the presentation of the information any drama. But the rapid destruction of Japan's Kido Butai is dramatic enough that it's still an interesting read. The book is presented from the Japanese perspective. It's a gripping tale of how groupthink and overconfidence led the Imperial Japanese Navy to allow the finest naval aviation striking force on the planet turn into scrap iron in a matter of minutes. For military history fans who don't mind a deep dive into a topic, it's an excellent read.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-04-20

Fascinating.

A revisionist view of the battle of Midway from the American, Japanese and modern day perspective. I loved all the detail, whilst admitting to being unable to absorb much of it other than a general overview. Still fascinating owing to the complexity. fate and simple, dumb, blind luck of this momentous carrier battle. Military historians may quibble but I found it a great yarn with a superb narration. Well worth a read.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-23-20

excellent

A necessary read for anyone who loves military history. All the levels of the conflict are taken into consideration.

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  • IRB
  • 01-08-20

Incredible Depth

I am in awe of the research that has obviously gone into this book. I bought both the Kindle and Audible so as to read in conjunction and look at the illustrations. It took me well over a month to finish it. It does get a bit repetitive, especially towards the end but can not detract from and incredible piece of work.