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

by James D. Hornfischer

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2961137,920 (4.17)5
Member:MichaelJR
Title:Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal
Authors:James D. Hornfischer
Info:Bantam (2011), Edition: First American Edition, Hardcover, 516 pages
Collections:History
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Tags:WWII

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

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
My second Hornsicher book although when I acquired it I'd forgotten the first - the superlative "The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors". I'd been meaning to read this book for a while and as I was "in the region", actually the Celebes Sea but close enough, I thought I'd take the plunge. The topic is Guadalcanal and while this is a well-documented campaign this concentrates on the naval side rather than the traditional land aspect.

Mr Hornfischer makes a point I'd never thought about - Guadalcanal was a seminal battle in WWII where the allies turned the axis tide - along with Stalingrad and El Alamein.

Guadalcanal is thought of as a USMC (marines) campaign, and their due should be noted, but 3 sailors fell for every infantryman.

Sitting back when completing this book I reflected as to how I'd summarize the reading experience. The phrase "exceptionally crafted" to me was obvious, however, when I thought further I'd add "emotionally wrung" and "humbling". The description of the actions long and detailed - relentless and impressing so deeply the courage, determination, sacrifice, and carnage on both sides. When ships went down there was no discrimination as to rank. No privilege there. Part way through the book I scribbled down:
- you can't run
- rank is awful
- nobody backed down
- the heroism palpable
- older commanders a liability
- orders are often misinterpreted
- destroyers should be renamed destroyed

It's fair to say that naval action in the Pacific is often thought of in carrier terms whereas this campaign was mainly surface ships. The only comparison that comes close in WWII, to me, is the Bismark chase and that was much less in scope and excluded any land component.

I must get my emotional breath back before contemplating another Hornsicher book!

Semper Fi! ( )
  martinhughharvey | Dec 17, 2015 |
A thorough and well-written account of the sea battles in the Solomon Islands. Hornfischer writes very well and highlights a lot of little-known information about these hard-fought surface sea battles. He holds the reader's interest throughout. ( )
  oparaxenos | Nov 27, 2015 |
Hornfischer does a good job of breaking down one of the more pivotal points of the war in the Pacific. The importance of these battles is well supported and I really appreciated the stories of individual soldiers and sailors. While the documentation of Neptune's Inferno was great for a history book, I found the narration to be spotty. Too often Hornfischer lost the thread and wondered off on tangents, failing to maintain the drama of such a drama-filled piece of history. This is a worthy edition to any WWII enthusiast's library, it isn't going to hold the attention of anyone who is just looking for a great war story. Good, but it left me wanting more. ( )
  csayban | Dec 30, 2014 |
Excellent review of naval actions in the Guadalcanal area, but a difficult book to listen to because of the constant reference to names and places. Really needed a set of maps to reference while listening. Still, once I accepted that I wasn't going to have that, the stories were excellent. ( )
  marshapetry | Nov 12, 2014 |
While much has already been written about this campaign, Hornfischer has managed to provide new details not previously part of the general literature. His in depth reporting of the events of the various battles provides deeper appreciation of the sheer terror faced by all who participated. Perhaps without intending to do so, his description of the thinking and the actions of the commanders clearly establishes a deep chasm to what was important in the peacetime Navy and what happened in war. It is a valuable lesson that probably will have to be relearned any time a nation goes to war. ( )
  DeaconBernie | Aug 30, 2014 |
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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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