Historian Ronald H. Spector, drawing on declassified intelligence files, an abundance of British and American archival material, Japanese scholarship and documents, and the research and memoirs of scholars, politicians, and the military men, presents a thrilling narrative of American war in the Pacific.
Spector reassesses U.S. and Japanese strategy and offers some provocative interpretations. He shows that the dual advance across the Pacific by MacArthur and Nimitz was less a product of strategic calculation and more a pragmatic solution to bureaucratic, doctrinal, and public relations problems facing the Army and Navy. He also argues that Japan made its fatal error not in the Midway campaign but in abandoning its offensive strategy after that defeat and allowing itself to be drawn into a war of attrition.
Combining impeccable research with electrifying detail, Spector vividly recreates the major battles, little-known campaigns, and unfamiliar events of this brutal 44-month struggle. He reveals that the U.S. had secret plans to wage unrestricted submarine warfare against Japan months before Pearl Harbor and demonstrates that MacArthur and his commanders ignored important intercepts of Japanese messages that would have saved thousands of lives in Papua and Leyte. He skillfully takes the reader from top-secret strategy meetings in Washington, London, and Tokyo to distant beaches and remote Asian jungles with battle-weary GIs. Throughout, Spector contends that American decisions in the Pacific War were shaped more often by the struggles between the British and the Americans, and between the Army and the Navy, than by strategic considerations. Revealing what really happened in the course of a conflict that ended with the most deadly air raid ever, this contribution to WWII history adds a new dimension to our understanding of the people and forces that determined its outcome.
A historian at the Army Center for Military History, Spector concentrates on the problem of command in the Southern Pacific theaters, the rivalries between the various U.S. armed services and the problem of allocating resources. PW praised his ability to "show how even the most efficiently run campaigns unfold against a background of violent dispute.'' November