Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal

James D. Hornfischer, Bantam, $28 (544p) ISBN 978-0-553-80670-0
Hornfischer (Ship of Ghosts) understands the human dynamics of the U.S. Navy in the Pacific war as well as any student of the subject. Here he focuses on the period when the Navy underwent its sternest test. The struggle for Guadalcanal, he writes, was "the most sustained and vicious fight of the Pacific war." It featured seven major naval actions and required the Navy to master a new kind of war: it was the first of the amphibious expeditionary campaigns charcteristic of the Pacific theater, combining air, land, and sea forces,and the U.S. was spectacularly unprepared to cope with its demands. Nor did the U.S. understand as yet how effective its Japanese opponent was—eventually, this knowledge was purchased with blood, and Hornfischer gives an empathetic but balanced account of that process. He reconstructs the fighting in a masterful synthesis of technical analysis, operational narrative, and tales of courage. His listing of one set of commendations submitted by one ship after one action stands in particular for all "the men without rank" who made up for the shortcomings of ship designers, admirals, and captains in the waters of Ironbottom Sound. 16 pages of b&w photos, 9 maps. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/06/2010
Release date: 01/01/2011
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-88130-4
Paperback - 516 pages
Compact Disc - 978-0-307-88139-7
Open Ebook - 569 pages - 978-0-553-90807-7
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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