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Shattered Sword

The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway
Narrated by: Tom Perkins
Length: 24 hrs and 44 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (135 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 members say

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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.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • CANBERRA CITY, Australia
  • 05-30-19

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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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.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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learned a lot about a battle I thought I knew.

so much interesting detail and Revelations from Japanese sources. Narrator ennunciates to much, but alright.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Simply OUTSTANDING

This book is or should be required reading for ANY reader interested in the 1942 Battle of Midway. It is especially relevant for those trying to understand the Japanese side of the Battle of Midway and events both leading up to the battle and its immediate aftermath. Absolute highest recommendation!

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Well-researched!

Always good to get well-researched history, especially for battles, which are inherently fog-bound..

Although the narrator is good (in English), and you can tell he studied up, I feel sorry of the authors to have spent so much time and effort researching and putting together a book purporting to sum Japanese records where the narrator doesn't know how to pronounce Japanese. Annoying. C'mon publisher...

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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.

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Too much information

I buy books for my father who has lost his sight. He loves books concerning WWII and his feelings are this book gave too much information. He listened to this book after listening to 2 excellent books (his words) and those books were A Higher Call and Sea Stories: My life in special operations.

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Great book

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Much of what I thought about the battle beforehand was incorrect. The writers provide a thorough explanation of the strategy and tactics used by both sides. The bravery and fighting spirit of the men on both sides is given full due.

The narrator was quite good. I highly recommend this audio book.

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One of my all time favorite naval books

I bought the actual book in 2005 upon release, I have read it a couple times over the years...but I have been into audio books lately, and I wanted to experience this gem as a listening experience, and I enjoyed it just as much!