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Battle of Surigao Strait (Twentieth-Century Battles) [Hardcover]

Anthony P. Tully
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 May 2009 Twentieth-Century Battles
Surigao Strait in the Philippine Islands was the scene of a major battleship duel during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Because the battle was fought at night and had few survivors on the Japanese side, the events of that naval engagement have been passed down in garbled accounts. Anthony P. Tully pulls together all of the existing documentary material, including newly discovered accounts and a careful analysis of U.S. Navy action reports, to create a new and more detailed description of the action. In several respects, Tully's narrative differs radically from the received versions and represents an important historical corrective. Also included in the book are a number of previously unpublished photographs and charts that bring a fresh perspective to the battle.

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Battle of Surigao Strait (Twentieth-Century Battles) + Neptune's Inferno + Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (1 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253352428
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253352422
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 858,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Aims to sort out the discrepancies that have crept in over time to standard accounts of the battle ... a confused and complex night action. Of special interest is Tully's exploitation of fresh source materials." Malcolm Muir, Jr., author of Black Shoes and Blue Water: Surface Warfare in the United States Navy, 1945-1975 "With copious endnotes, an extensive and interesting bibliography and thorough index, this book is worth buying by serious students of the Pacific War and for institutional libraries with a strong military history focus." --The Journal of Naval History

About the Author

Anthony P. Tully is an independent scholar and historian of the Imperial Japanese Navy. He is author (with Jon Parshall) of Shattered Sword, a study of the Battle of Midway. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable account of little known naval action 13 Jan 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I came to this book shortly after reading the masterful Shattered Sword, by the same author. Whereas that book deals with the well known Battle of Midway, this book deals with a much less well known battle that formed part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and is less well documented from the Japanese side, due to the lack of survivors.

I had heard of this battle before, but the cursory nature of the descriptions made it sound like an ambush and slaughter of Japanese Battleships. While it is true that the battleships were sunk and almost all of their attendant escorts, it was far from an ambush. The Japanese knew that they were on a suicide mission, but they sailed forth very much like a naval Charge of the Light Brigade.

While the book gets of to a slowish start, once the fleet is assembled and gets going it reads like a novel, but as in most cases truth is far more fascinating than fiction. Reading the relentless charge of the battle fleet through first torpedo boat attacks, then a destroyer screen; heavy cruiser assault, and finally to a brick wall of American battleships, one is filled with admiration for the Japanese effort. It is amazing that they almost managed to escape after the futility of continuing on became apparent. The subsequent attempt to escape is almost as fascinating as the original charge.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immaculate research and compelling narration 17 July 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Not only does Tully bring a relatively obscure battle into sharp focus, he adjusts the received wisdom about the battle through meticulous research and wonderful use of primary sources. In Tully's account, the one-sided encounter at Surigao Strait moves from being a side show to a main event. I have been reading naval history for years, but the first-hand description of a survivor's panic as the hull of the antiquated Japanese behemoth Fuso finally heels over will stay with me for a long time.

I approached this books a little cautiously, wondering if Tully could match the heights he attained with Jonathan Parshall in Shattered Sword. He could. Shattered Sword: The Japanese Story of the Battle of Midway
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstandingly Gripping!! 23 Feb 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I agree fully with the previous reviewer. This is a really gripping read about a little known night naval battle that does indeed read almost like a novel. The author has done his homework well and gives a detailed analysis of the action from start to finish. A brilliant read and highly recommended for all students of the naval war in the Pacific.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Objective Research 22 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a well researched and objective work. Unlike many other books it has a balanced view and a fair representation of the Japanese side of the battle.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I came to this book straight from James Hornfischer's brilliant masterpiece 'Neptunes Inferno' which tells the story of Guadalcanal from the American perspective. By contrast, Mr Tully's account here is told almost entirely from the Japanese viewpoint, and as such it is a rare and valuable book to find written in English.

Whereas in the other book (a really superb narrative) I was almost desperately 'willing' the likes of Admirals Scott and Lee to victory, here I found myself sailing along with Admirals Nishimura and Shima- and experiencing exactly those same emotions. Somehow the impossible odds the Japanese faced seemed totally unfair. I was shocked when Fuso sank, and was urging on Nishimura's Yamashiro, hoping he would somehow break past the six American Battleships blocking his path. I was on the bridge with Commander Arai of the brave cruiser Mogami as, on fire from stem to stern, she sought to survive 100 shell hits. Then, I felt outrage when I read about Amercans machine gunning survivors in the water- surely 'our side' didn't do that?- but of course they did, and who am I, from my armchair, to judge, 70 years later, those who were caught up in the reality of total war?

Perhaps this account is rather overly long and makes a lot of what was, in its essentials, quite a simple campaign. For example, in the approach phase every minor course change is carefully recorded, but to properly understand all that detail the book desperately needs better and larger scale maps- numerous places mentioned are not shown at all on the ones provided and the photographs, though significant, are few in number.

But I do not want to quibble over much about what are really minor matters, because this is a thought- provoking book.
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