As the author points out, the series of naval battles fought in late October, 1945, collectively termed the Battle of Leyte Gulf, was the largest naval battle ever fought - in terms of men and ships involved. Although by that point in the war, the question was not if Japan was to be defeated but when and at what cost (the cost was high and would have been staggering if the atomic bomb attacks had not finally convinced Hirohito to accept the terms of the Potsdam ultimatum). From before Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Combined Fleet had been seeking the "decisive battle" at sea, where they would once and for all achieve naval superiority over the Allies (the U.S., actually, since Britain's naval efforts were quickly rendered inconsequential in the Pacific days into the war). At Leyte Gulf, the Japanese sallied forth - in their typically overly complex, arrogant, disconnected fashion - to destroy the American landing forces off Leyte - and turn back the flooding tide of the American advance. What actually happened, in a complex series of maneuvers and actions - involving tactical and strategic mistakes on both sides - resulted in a resounding American victory and the final destruction of the Japanese Combined Fleet. The Japanese would never again venture forth to meet American ships at sea - save the Yamato's desperate suicide run during the first week of the Battle of Okinawa. Cutler's account is well researched and is commendable in explaining complex events and evaluating tactical and strategic decisions - even if his writing style is not quite up to the dramatic content. Cutler rightly emphasizes the heroic actions of the Destroyers and Destroyer Escorts off Samar in attempting to fend off the vastly superior Japanese force under Kurita - which, through tactical and communications errors by "Bull" Halsey - had achieved position to destroy covering escort carrier task forces and the American landing fleet off Leyte (fortunately for the U.S., Kurita made the mistake of breaking off his attack on the verge of success). The Battle of Leyte Gulf is little known among the American public and the action by these "small Navy" sailors of "Taffy 3" should be memorialzed as a profile of courage. They exhibited the type of courage Japan - in their arrogance - was convinced the U. S. did not possess when they made their decision to precipitate a war with the "sleeping giant". What sweet revenge it must have been for USS West Virginia, survivor of the cowardly attack on Pearl Harbor, when her radar directed big guns rained destruction on the Japanese force under Kirishima at Surigao Strait. This is the definitive account of a decisive engagement of the war in the Pacific.and perhaps last great naval battle the world will ever see.