Carrier Warfare in the Pacific
Contributor: David Stubblebine
Review Date: 8 Jun 2017
Full Title: Carrier Warfare in the Pacific: An Oral History Collection (Smithsonian History of Aviation Series)
Many oral histories qualify better as reminiscences than as histories but this one is different. Commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution, this is a compilation of oral histories from carefully chosen sources that are pieced together into an effective history of the United States carrier doctrine as it developed in the crucible of the Pacific War.
As a work commissioned by the Smithsonian, this book was always intended to be an American history and indeed it is. All of the contributors were members of the United States Navy and this is distinctly a story about US carrier warfare. That means the book cannot be an all-encompassing treatise on the development of carrier tactics and it never pretends to be, but it still covers a very broad swath of material. From the Solomons to Tokyo Bay and all stops in between, we hear the candid perspectives and skillful analyses from such prominent Navy men as John Thach, Fitzhugh Lee, Arleigh Burke, David McCampbell, Gerald Bogan, Stephen Jurika, and others plus glimpses from within the Bureau of Ships and the Bureau of Aeronautics describing the background and development of the Essex-class carriers.
Expertly edited by E. T. Wooldridge, Ramsey Fellow and Aviation Historian at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum at the time, the stories told by others are pieced together with a constant flow that made the reading very easy – and fascinating. Each story teller was also introduced with a brief biography written by the editor that helped the reader better understand the cast of players. We heard from those who were dishing it out in the Marianas Turkey Shoot and from those who were feeling the wrath aboard the Franklin. We heard from the cockpits, from the flag bridges, and from the crew's mess. In this book, Wooldridge offered a very complete cross section of perspectives on the United States' carrier war in the Pacific.
Whether historian or history buff, I would recommend this book as a "must" for anyone with an interest in World War II carrier performance.
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Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, 16 Mar 1945