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Shattered Sword

ISBN: 1-57488-923-0
Review Date:

Because of our close working relationship with Jon Parshall, we at WW2DB feel that we are not in a fair position to provide a neutral book review on Jon and Anthony Tully's book Shattered Sword. Generously, Strategypage.com contributor Harold Hutchison provided WW2DB the following review on the book.

So, with special thanks to Harold, here's the review!

The Battle of Midway is one of the most famous in history. The story is well-known. After a string of failed attacks, the four carriers of Kido Butai under Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo were ready to launch the air strike that would have sunk the carriers Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown in one decisive blow. However, with the strike on the flight decks, this was thwarted by the timely arrival of SBD Dauntlesses from Enterprise and Yorktown, which planted their bombs to do fatal damage to the Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu – the bombs igniting a devastating chain-reaction on the decks of these carriers. It's a story that Hollywood would make a great movie (and did, with 1976's Midway). But as is often the case, the version Hollywood went with was wrong. Jon Parshall and Anthony Tully, the creative force behind the web site CombinedFleet.com, began looking at this battle from the Japanese perspective, one that has been widely ignored. This book releases a large number of bombshells, blowing apart the account of Mitsuo Fuchida, the air commander who wrote a book on Midway. They also tell a gripping story, that is backed up by evidence in a massive book that sets the new starting point for the discussion of Midway.

The Imperial Japanese Navy is presented as far from the united, unstoppable juggernaut it was painted as. Instead, there were personality clashes and more intrigue than the entire run of “The Sopranos”. One admiral placed his superior in a headlock. Another admiral, while intoxicated, threatened to knife another admiral. Yamamoto was placed in command of the Combined Fleet to avoid getting assassinated by warmongers in Tokyo. The Japanese Navy’s command structure was extremely dysfunctional. That is not a good thing in the middle of the war.

This book brings a well-presented case, one that places the "Incredible Victory" in a whole new context. New information on the sinkings of the Kaga and Soryu appears in this book. The authors have not only provided charts of the damage done in the American attacks (via excellent illustrations of the hit locations), they also have detailed many of the other incidents in the battle (including a chart showing how the collision of the heavy cruisers Mikuma and Mogami happened). The revelation of the real reason that the Japanese carriers were vulnerable when the attack from VB-6, VS-6, and VB-3 arrived at 1020 on June 4, 1942.

Shattered Sword is a superb work that should become the definitive reference when the Battle of Midway is discussed. Gordon W. Prange and Walter Lord have been thoroughly eclipsed by this new work creating a full perspective of the pivotal battle of World War II in the Pacific Theater.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Jim Paulk says:
29 Mar 2010 09:02:45 PM

I met Mitsuo Fuchida while on a tour of churches in Chicago, Illinois in 1956. I still cherish his personalized autograph. My life was changed after hearing him speak of his coming to Christ. My life came to Christ the day I met the demon who coined the words "Tora! Tora! Tora!"
2. Bryan Nepveu says:
15 Feb 2012 03:45:35 PM

I have read Prange, Fuchida and Lord's books on the Midway battle. Shattered Sword does, indeed, pick up where there were omissions or gaps in the historical record, as well as clarifying the doctrines under which the two navies operated and the personalities of all of those involved and how they affected the outcome of the battle. The book while detailed and informative was not tedious and moved along smoothly. This is definitely a book well worth reading. One thing that is confusing in the forward though, it states that the U. S. S. Yorktown was the most advanced carrier in the U. S. Navy at the time. But since the the Enterprize and the Hornet were of the same class wouldn't the the whole Yorktown class have been the most advanced carriers inthe U. S. Navy at that time? This is my only quible with this book, but worth noting.
3. Barry says:
28 Mar 2012 04:59:33 PM

I really enjoyed this book - it was interesting to live the battle through the eyes of the Japanese, only knowing what they knew at that time, and how they based their decisions. Even thouogh I knew the outcome, I still felt it was a real page turner suspense.

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