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Carrier Clash: The Invasion of Guadalcanal and the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, August 1942 Hardcover – 31 Jan 2000

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Pacifica Military History (31 Jan 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0935553207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0935553208
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 16.5 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,759,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
The world's first true aircraft carrier, HMS Furious, launched the world's first carrier air strike against German zeppelin sheds in northern Germany on July 19, 1918. Read the first page
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Henk Beentje TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 Mar 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After a 42-page intro on the basics, from carrier history and naval aircraft details (we learn that a Wildcat pilot had to turn a hand-crank 27 times to pull up the landing gear, while fighting the airplane's marked tendency to pull to the left because of landing torque... all while taking off!) it is straight into the bones of the story. "Guadalcanal, August 7, 1942. Lt (jg) Smokey Stover, a Wildcat section leader... "
It is all minutely detailed; individual fights with the turns taken; the amount of fuel left when landing, sometimes; the gear worn by F3 Visto during the firefighting and rescue of blacked-out ratings on the Enterprise. What is fascinating is that Hammel's research has often enabled him to mesh the accounts of US and Japanese combatants, so we get to know that a lone SBD piloted by Lt (jg) Howard downed one of the two attacking Zeros - piloted by PO3 Kimura. And this works at several levels, from Fletcher and Tanaka at operational level, to the strategic level, and the tactical level mentioned earlier.
A fascinating and well-researched book on the third carrier clash in history, and one of the main turning points in the Pacific war. Recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Stafford on 26 Aug 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hammel makes excellent use of first-hand accounts to create a compelling account of the Guadalcanal clash, combining evident knowledge of his subject with first-hand accounts to give a really fresh account. I wholly recommend both this and its sequel, Carrier Strike, to the Pacific War novice or enthusiast alike.

Only a few minor gripes. Firstly, a few more maps or illustrations would help, although you can't accuse the books of being expensive, to be fair. Secondly, the English reader needs to accustom himself / herself to the American writing style (Japanese fighters are not merely downed, but 'flamed' for example)- perhaps Hammel is deliberately drawing on the vocal style of his sources. Finally, there is one surprising gap in the account - the Battle of Savo Island, and early and savage naval encounter - is barely mentioned, whilst Hammel deals in closer focus with several more minor incidents. Perhaps Hammel goes where his new sources took him, which maintains the fresh quality of the book, but this is a significant omission nonetheless. On balance, however, a good read, and check out the sister volume too. Carrier Strike: The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, October 1942
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Meticulous Military History 24 Dec 2005
By Dianne Roberts - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despite the book's title this is really a history of the Solomons campaing up to the battle of the Eastern Solomons, the first carrier to carrier clash of the campaign. It certainly has its center of gravity placed on the operations of the American carriers, but includes much of the actions of both navies in and around the slot, the fighting on the ground, and the aerial duels between the Japanese coming out of Rabaul and the Cactus air force.

Foremost this book is an account of what happened in a very comperehensive manner. After explaining the aircraft and ships the Japanese and Americans possesed, and delving into an interesting comparison of their air wing make ups and tactics, the author takes you chronologically through the Solomons campaign.

The reason this book only merited four stars instead of five is that sometimes this can be a bit dry. There's a lot of " . . . and then at 1350 the Wasp launched two more Hellcats on CAP. At 1415 a Mavis was shot down by a Hellcat from the Enterprise. Japanese records indicate that this was from their base in the Shortland Islands. At 1430 four planes from the Hornet CAP returned to refuel. At 1435 planes from the Wasp sighted another Mavis but were unable to pursue it. At 1440 . . . " Stretch this amount of minute by minute detail out over several weeks worth of operations and you get a sense of what the book is about, and it's a marvel it's not longer.

This might be slow at some points but it does allow some interesting insights that many other more easily read, and more exciting books can obscure. First is the sometimes monotomy and boredom of war. Second is the ridiculous degree to which kills of enemy aircraft and ships were overstated during the battles that occured. By comparing accounts of both sides the author makes it clear that most engagements resulted in fewer losses than the participants thought took place. (Clearly the engagements must have been emotionally draining and fierce.) If the after action reports are to have been believed it would seem as though the Japanese thought they wiped out the entire American force several times over and vice versa.

Certainly interesting for people with a passion for WWII history, especially the pacific campaign, but too much like pure history to really recommend for the casual reader.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Good Synopsis of a Critical Battle 29 July 2008
By A. Pulsipher - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Eric Hammel does a good job narrating the events during the Battle of Eastern Solomons in August, 1942. This was a critical battle which allowed the First Marine Division defenders on Guadalcanal to continue to consolidate its position. The blow by blow narrative of the air battle is so detailed that one wonders how Mr. Hammel was able to gather all this information--particularly that which he gleans from the Japanese side.

The weakness of Mr. Hammel in this book is his seeming inability to cope with the historically improved view of the performance of Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher. Mr. Hammel seems to parrot the biased view first propounded by the likes of Rear Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner, who had a desparate need to blame the disaster of the Battle of Savo Island on someone--anyone--other than himself. Unfortunately, Admiral King and Samuel Elliot Morrison picked up on Turner's scapegoating. Mr. Hammel seems to write as if none of the exculpatory research in such works as Lundstrom's "Black Shoe Carrier Admiral" has been circulated in the historical community. Admiral Fletcher certainly was concerned with refueling his ships...particularly his destroyer he well should have. Logistics of refueling had not developed to the art it became by the end of the war. Admiral Fletcher correctly kept his eye on the most important of his destroy Japanese carriers under Admiral Nimitz's orders of calculated risk so that he could preserve the U.S. carriers, which in the Pacific were the most strategic of wartime assets for the defense of the United States. Fletcher wasn't flambouyant or reckless like Admiral Halsey, but was very approachable unlike Admiral Spruance. His approachability and good judgement explains Admiral Fletcher's magnificent performance--as well as the superb performance of the Yorktown--at Coral Sea and Midway. Mr. Hammel would do well to edit out his bias in future editions.

Finally, Mr. Hammel could put better perspective on what was achieved by this little known battle. A major effort which included extensive elements of the Combined Fleet were turned back, as this was a rather massive counterassault on the Marine position at Guadalcanal. That in itself was a considerable achievement only overshadowed by the Coral Sea and Midway engagements. The Marines owe a considerable debt of gratitude to the Navy for keeping their position viable...and the Leathernecks should also be reminded that more sailors died in the Guadalcanal campaign than Marines.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Historically accurate! Entertaining! Engrossing! 14 Aug 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book details a small section of history from World War 2. It describes the equipment, the men and the battles, but it does it in such a way that you are unable to put the book down. By the time you've finished you have a feeling of some of what it must have been like to be involved in the struggle for that 'terrible' island. You also begin to believe that you know the men who fought there. This book is unmissable.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The Story of What the Carriers Did at Guadalcanal 22 April 2005
By John Matlock - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Invasion of Guadalcanal and the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, August 1942.

The Battle of the Eastern Solomons was history's third carrier clash. A collision of U.S. Navy and Imperial Navy carriers in the wake of the invasion of Guadalcanal--whose airfield the United States desperately needed and the Japanese desperately wanted back--the battle was waged at sea and over Guadalcanal's besieged Marine-held Lunga Perimeter on August 24, 1942.

These battles were the result of the US deciding to draw the line in the pacific at the Solomons. If the Japanese had been able to complete the airfield on Guadalcanal, their planes would have been able to prevent the sailing of ships to Australia via the Pacific. So it was here that the Americans drew the line. Before the Guadalcanal battle the Americans fought the Battle of the Coral Sea stopping the Japanese southern advance.

Remember that this was a time before the Americans brought out their newer aircraft. This battle was fought with Wildcats against Zeros. And the dive bombers were the old SBD Dauntless.

This is not a history of Guadalcanal or of the overall place of this battle in the war, it is as the title says, a description of the carrier vs. carrier battles. This is only part of the story, but it is well told here.

Not a companion book, but anyone interested in the stopping of the Japanese advances should also read the new Australian book "A Bastard of a Place." This covers the stopping of the Japanese advance across Papua New Guina a fierce and deciscive battle little known in the US.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Long on detail, short on analysis 29 May 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The man has definitely done his research - this is the most detailed account I've ever read of any Pacific theatre battle.
However, although the book describes Guadalcanal and the battle of the Eastern Solomons, Savo Island is all but ignored. There is no discussion of the significance of the battle, nor even of who won it! Essentially, the book stops when the fighting did, which is a bit odd.
If you like blood-and-thunder dogfight anecdotes you'll like this book, but some more of the big picture would have been nice.
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