The night action off the coast of Guadalcanal on Friday, November 13, 1942 is known as one of the most ferocious naval battles of World War II, a battle that claimed the lives of two American admirals and involved U.S. cruisers and Japanese battleships fighting at point-blank range. Though famous for tipping the scales in favor of the U.S. Navy in this critical area of the Pacific, the action has never before received the treatment provided in this book. James Grace describes events from deck level--and from both sides. He draws on a wealth of previously untapped primary sources, including the vivid personal recollections of some two hundred Japanese and American survivors of the fight. These eyewitness accounts lend an immediacy to the work that will appeal to the casual reader as well as serious World War II buffs and historians.
While the focus of the book is on the details of the harrowing night battle, it also covers the
planning on both sides that led to the action and the missions of the American and Japanese task forces. Grace defines the roles played by intelligence, the weather, and the air forces. He presents information about how the Americans knew the Japanese were planning a bombardment of the island prior to landing their reinforcements, yet managed only to throw a force together out of desperation. He points to the confusion caused by the deaths early on of the American commanders, the miserable performance of U.S. torpedoes, and the limitations of radar. Because naval leaders on both sides have been criticized in the past for how they conducted the fight, the author also explains why events occurred as they did and why the battle was so critical to the overall Guadalcanal campaign.
Nearly twenty maps help the reader follow the action, and photographs bring events alive. The fruit of many years of research, this study adds an important dimension to the battle.
James Grace is a retired high school history teacher and U.S. Army Reserve veteran with a lifelong interest in naval history. He lives with his family in Florissant, Missouri.
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