The Battle of Midway: The Naval Institute Guide to the U.S. Navy's Greatest Victory.

AuthorAgoratus, Steve
PositionBook review

The Battle of Midway: The Naval Institute Guide to the U.S. Navy's Greatest Victory. By Thomas C. Hone, ed. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2013. Maps. Illustrations. Photographs. Appendices. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Pp. xx, 360. ISBN 978-1-61251-126-9.

With the seventieth anniversary of the epic Battle of Midway just passed, this compilation is a well-timed addition to the rich body of works on this crucial turning point in the Pacific War. Hone, a former Naval War College facility member and author of numerous works on naval topics, has drawn together such diverse sources as articles, books, official documents and after-battle reports, diaries, oral histories, participant recollections, and even letters to the editor to provide a well-rounded, analytic perspective on the battle. Here are all the well-known hinges of fate: McCluskys extended search, Buckmaster's decision to abandon Yorktown, Nagumo's repeated switching of bombs and torpedoes. Newly prominent, however, are such crucial topics as the battle's effect on global war strategy and a critical look how Midway is regarded today. Critiques of skills, styles, decisions, and motivations of both sides' leaders provide valuable insights into the planning, execution, and assessment of military campaigns. Directed in particular to naval professionals, this book is intended to enhance leadership skills.

Hone emphasizes the influence of strategic forces on battle planning. Concerned about global implications of potential U.S. ship losses, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral King instructed Admiral Nimitz to minimize risk to the fleet. Nimitz accordingly ordered the U.S. carrier commander, Admiral Spruance, to use the "principle of calculated risk." Spruance subsequently steamed east on the night of June 5. Had he pursued Nagumo's wounded strike force to the west, Spruance would have exposed the U.S. carriers to Yamamoto's battleships, the presence of which was unknown to the U.S. at the time.

Certain facets of this book are interestingly oriented to helping the intended audience link the lessons presented to their own careers. One essay applies a model of fleet tactics to the battle. Others explore how experience and professional judgment aided leaders in making crucial decisions with incomplete or inadequate information. Rather than illustrating the text, photo captions describe the tactical situation and commanders' decisions, encouraging insights to which the reader may relate...

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