All countries are particularly proud of their special forces and people like to read of their exploits. The raid on Makin Island in 1942 was the very first US special forces operation and, for that reason, has become enshrined in US military folklore. For many others, however, the story, as told in this book, will be the first they have heard of the location, the people who took part or of its importance at the time. Although not the biggest book in the world, it really does cover the raid in great detail and is, therefore, great value for money.
The intention of the operation was to cause the Japanese to divert resources from Guadalcanal by believing their reinforcements were needed elsewhere. In order to achieve this, two companies of US Marines ventured deep into enemy territory aboard two submarines before being despatched in rubber boats to Makin Island where they were to attack and destroy the enemy and his facilities. Under command of Lt. Colonel Evans Carlson, the raid was also seen as a final examination for those taking part. These men had been carefully selected and had undergone many months of additional specialist training in order to determine whether the very notion of `special forces' was worth the extra time and effort involved. Each individual was so highly regarded as a `specialist' that the opinions of the most junior would be seriously considered by his commander in the planning of every move along the way.
The book is well laid out and, from the opening chapter entitled; `Origins' we learn of the background of the people involved and the thinking of the time. In this way, the author exposes all the minute details of how these men were brought together at a particular point in time. The remaining chapters are; Initial Strategy, The Plan, The Raid and Aftermath. The book then concludes with; Analysis, Conclusion, Bibliography and Index.
One of my own pet hates is to find one of those armchair experts who has never worn any form of uniform - ever, analysing some important military event in a way which seeks to promote their own non-existent expertise. With this book, however, I found myself drawn more and more towards the author because his comments and analysis made complete sense. Whereas, I was not aware until after I had finished the work, I was not surprised to learn that author Gordon L. Rottman is a special forces veteran. Clearly a man who knows what he is taking about!
British Army major (Retired)