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Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at…

Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal (original 2011; edition 2011)

by James D. Hornfischer

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Title:Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal
Authors:James D. Hornfischer
Info:Bantam (2011), Edition: First American Edition, Hardcover, 516 pages

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Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal by James D. Hornfischer (2011)

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Great book. A detailed view of the events leading up to the Naval battles in the Solomon islands at Guadalcanal. Bloody and depressing, but moving as well. A pretty balanced (to my view) of what we did right as well as what we did wrong, as well as what the Japanese did well or poorly. ( )
  stuart10er | Nov 5, 2013 |
If we know about Guadalcanal, we know about it from the combat that took place on the island during the early part of WWII. Those battles have become famous from books (The Thin Red Line, Guadalcanal Diary), more so from the movies made of them, and for those of us of a certain age – my father served in the Pacific Fleet during the war – have come to stand for privation, suffering, honor, and, most of all, courage.

I was surprised to discover that three times the number of sailors died in the battles for the island as soldiers (mostly Marines), and that the series of naval engagements in the Solomons are considered by many historians to be the pivotal battles of the war, and that the higher human attributes were at least as manifest in the Navy as the Marines and were probably more effective in setting the U.S. on the path to victory.

Hornfischer focuses intensely, though not exclusively, on the Navy, and that focus allowed him mastery of the source material – he's read everything. With a good sense of pacing, a concentration on people, an ear for the telling anecdote, and a willingness to criticize bad decisions, he has put together a fine history that reads like a novel and presents us with the best, and sometimes the worst, actions of humans in desperate battle. ( )
  steve.clason | Oct 28, 2012 |
Excellent tale of the U.S. Navy's support of American forces engaged on Guadalcanal. This engrossing account includes includes coverage of theater strategy, naval surface warfare tactics, and tales related by individuals engaged in the actions. ( )
  jrtanworth | Dec 15, 2011 |
A great look at the obstacles faced by the Navy around Guadalcanal. Hornfischer points out the basic problem the American Navy had with its lack of experienced commanders who were willing and versed to use available technology and leaders who had actually been in the midst of battle and knew what to do. Training and preparedness of the crew was another problem. Depicted here was much bravery and as in all aspects of war, too much death, many lives sacrificed by poor leadership. ( )
  creighley | Nov 29, 2011 |
Neptune's Inferno is a vivid, even riveting portrayal of the naval battles that took place in the view and hearing of the marines and soldiers struggling to hold on to Guadalcanal. Because most of the battles took place at night, they often awakened to a sea full of debris, bodies, drifting survivors, damaged and sinking warships. All too frequently the latter were from America or their allies. When it was over, 48 warships(24 from each side) littered Iron Bottom Sound and the other waters around the islands. Over 5,000 sailors and marines died in the sea battles more than three times the fatalities during the 6 month land battle.
Using insightful research interspersed with personal stores of participants and survivors, Hornfischer aptly and with penetrating insights, illustrates the steep learning curve that the officers and men of the allied navies went through beginning in August 1942 with an eerily easy landing and ending in Feb 1943 with10,000 Japanese being quietly and successfully evacuated from what they called Starvation Island.

This book is a story of courageous officers and men fighting as well as they could despite being put "in harm's way" by command decisions from ill prepared and often inept senior officers that were placed in command because of their seniority rather than their competence. Why were no submarines used by the US when the Tokyo Express ran on a schedule as punctual as Japanese trains? Why were the carriers almost always too far away to support the surface ships? Why do you maintain radio silence when the enemy is already firing at your ships? Why have radar if you are not going to use it?
In what could be considered the last sea battle of Guadalcanal, the admiral commanding was repeating fatal mistakes made in previous battles months before. And like the commanding captains and admirals before him, he was new to the job and still did it the old way. ( )
  jamespurcell | Mar 26, 2011 |
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Draws on interviews with veterans and primary sources to present a narrative account of the pivotal World War II campaign, chronicling the three-month effort to gain control of Guadalcanal as a battle that taught the U.S. Navy and Marines new approaches to warfare.… (more)

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