Pacific Campaign: World War II--The U.S.-Japanese Naval War 1941-1945

Dan Van der Vat, Author Simon & Schuster $30 (448p) ISBN 978-0-671-73899-0
Van der Vat ( The Atlantic Campaign ) traces the economic, diplomatic and social developments that led Japan to war in the 1930s and turned the U.S. into its main enemy in the 1940s. His fast-paced narrative, augmented with such brief personal accounts as an eyewitness report of an American POW's beheading, is related largely from the viewpoint of high-level U.S. commanders, both at the strategic level (admirals Ernest King and Chester Nimitz, Gen. Douglas MacArthur) and the tactical (admirals Raymond Spruance and William Halsey). Van der Vat is decidedly outspoken, referring to the ``willful stupidity'' of the Japanese in calling MacArthur a mountebank, and demanding to know why the Americans didn't bypass Micronesia, the Palaus and even the Philippines in their great counteroffensive. He also takes up issues long ignored: for example, MacArthur's arbitrary sidelining of the superb, battle-hardened Australian army and the British navy's attempt to ``muscle in'' on the climactic American victories. A fresh and very lively look at the war in the Pacific. BOMC selection; History Book Club alternate. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/02/1991
Release date: 12/01/1991
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