Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Battle of Midway, June 1942

Midway Atoll
June 4-7 is the 71st anniversary of the Battle of Midway. It is was a dramatic victory for the United States following a series of humiliating defeats in the early months of the Pacific War. The seminal naval battle showed Japan that the Americans were not push-overs.

Victory at Midway followed the Battle of the Coral Sea (May 7-8, 1942) where the U.S. Navy had established an operational advantage over Japan. The U.S. showed it could get forces quickly out to the Pacific and could weaken Imperial Japan's Pacific offense. As you can imagine, the former achievement would haunt the American POWs of Japan abandoned on The Philippines.

After the Battle of Midway, Tokyo understood that the war was to be long and difficult. The U.S. military had not been crippled by the bombing of Pearl Harbor or by the fall of the Philippines. The Americans proved tenacious and lucky.

Japan thought it could eliminate the U.S. Pacific Fleet and secure an important base mid-way in the Pacific. They believed that victory would lead to a negotiated peace with the U.S. and a quick end to the war. They were wrong.

If you are interested in learning more about the Battle of Midway and its significance, there is a new anthology published this month of memoirs, articles, excerpts from other books, and relevant government documents to help readers understand what happened and explain why the battle was so significant to the naval service. The Battle of Midway: The Naval Institute Guide to the U.S. Navy’s Greatest Victory (June 2013) focuses on events leading up to the battle and the battle itself, with a separate section examining how others have interpreted the battle's engagements.

The author is Thomas C. Hone, a former senior executive in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and a former member of the faculty of the Naval War College with a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.

Two of the most respected and read books on the Battle of Midway are Gordon W. Prange's Miracle at Midway (1982) and Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully's Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway (2005) that uses recently translated Japanese sources.

Click on the books to order or learn more.

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