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Midway (Fields Of Battle Series) Paperback – 13 Dec 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; 1st Edition edition (13 Dec. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304357154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304357154
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 18.4 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 859,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Hugh Bicheno was born in Cuba and has worked as an academic, an intelligence officer and a freelance kidnap and ransom negotiator. After 25 years in the Americas he now lives in Cambridge and is devoted to writing about men at war. This is his second book in the series (after GETTYSBURG).

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MarkK TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 25 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
The battle of Midway ranks not just as one of the pivotal battles of the Second World War, but also as one of the most important naval battles in history. Over a three-day period in June 1942, a force of three American carriers changed the course of the war in the Pacific theater by sinking the core of the Japanese strike fleet. The decisive nature of the battle has ensured it considerable attention from historians, who have spent much time and ink examining the factors involved in the American victory and the Japanese defeat. Hugh Bicheno's generously illustrated study is not the first of these or the most detailed, but it offers the reader both a careful recounting of the battle and an analysis of the elements that shaped its outcome.

Bicheno's basic argument is that, far from being an unavoidable defeat, the Japanese disaster at Midway was the result of a succession of mistakes born out of arrogance. Some of these stretched back to before the war, with an overall strategy against the United States dependent on too many assumptions that the Americans would react as the Japanese expected. Added to this was an arrogance built up over six months of victories, campaigning which left the Japanese fleet exhausted. By contrast, the Americans benefited from intelligence decryptions which alerted them in advance to Japanese intentions and allowed them to plan for a successful counterstroke. Yet Bicheno continually notes the factor of chance in shaping the outcome, from the illness that replaced "Bull" Halsey with Raymond Spruance, to off-course scouts coming across the enemy fleet. Together they provide a compelling portrait of the chaos of battle, from which it was the Americans who would emerge triumphant.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Useful, but be careful 23 Feb. 2003
By Jonathan Parshall - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Hugh Bicheno's book on Midway is the first new offering in this field since the excellent (but unfortunately less well-known) "Glorious Page in our History" was published in 1990. I should mention that I'm the maintainer of a large Web site on the Imperial Japanese Navy...and I am also currently working on a new book of the Battle of Midway myself which will focus on the Japanese account of the battle. So I have a high degree of interest in what Bicheno had to say.
There are some strong points to the book, including:
Social Coverage: I was pleased (and chagrined) to see that Bicheno had covered the social aspect of the navies, something I plan to do myself. I thought he did a good job of that.
Good tabular data: Bicheno presents good order of battle data, as well as some good tabular data on the individual air strikes of the morning. It's by no means complete, but it's much better than what you'll find in books like Prange's "Miracle at Midway."
Visual Presentation: The book is lovely to look at; lots of photos (albeit all the same ones we've all seen in Midway books before--there is a shortage of photographs for this battle), and well illustrated with colorful maps. Nicely done. However, this leads us to some of the...
Less Strong Points:
Some of the Illustrations are misleading. For instance, the map on page 128, showing various attacks on the Japanese carrier formation between 0700-0820 goes into great detail regarding the individual placement of Japanese vessels, the *entirety* of which is completely wrong. The four carriers are misplaced relative to their known divisional alignments. Furthermore, the outlying escort vessels are badly represented as well, with those few destroyers that we can be reasonably sure were close to the carriers (since they were plane-guard escorts) shown out on the perimeter. In other words, for this map at least Bicheno simply took a wild guess and drew some pretty pictures. But the picture is utterly wrong.
Nothing Much New. The author is using secondary sources, and not surprisingly hasn't dug up much new to say about the battle in a concrete sense. That's a pity, because there *are* new things to relate on the battle, had the author done a little more digging. He could have, for instance, read both Dallas Isom's 2000, and my own 2001 articles in the U.S. Naval War College Review about what was occurring with regards to Japanese recon, re-arming, and fighter operations during the battle, some of which is quite important. So, while it's a good read, you can get essentially the same account from Lord, Prange, or Cressman's works. But the pictures, again, are prettier in this one.
Hope this is of some use to people.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
...at one stroke the dominant position...was reversed... 27 Feb. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Riveting. I opened the book and had to finish it in one sitting. The charts, order of battle, figures, etc. required some extended review. However, that was just another chance to review the battle with an expanded perspective.
I was impressed with Mr. Bicheno's investigation of the cultural and psychological identity of each nation. That, integrated with insightful profiles of the commanders and their key staff members, and their approaches to the management process of war, created an inside view of the capabilities and limitations of the command and control structures of each side.
The notion of getting inside the head of your enemy is powerful, and basic. "...the field of battle is in the mind and ...to force one's enemy into a denial of reality is surely the greatest victory of all."
An excellent addition to your naval library.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A provocative introduction to a pivotal naval battle 25 Sept. 2010
By MarkK - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The battle of Midway ranks not just as one of the pivotal battles of the Second World War, but also as one of the most important naval battles in history. Over a three-day period in June 1942, a force of three American carriers changed the course of the war in the Pacific theater by sinking the core of the Japanese strike fleet. The decisive nature of the battle has ensured it considerable attention from historians, who have spent much time and ink examining the factors involved in the American victory and the Japanese defeat. Hugh Bicheno's generously illustrated study is not the first of these or the most detailed, but it offers the reader both a careful recounting of the battle and an analysis of the elements that shaped its outcome.

Bicheno's basic argument is that, far from being an unavoidable defeat, the Japanese disaster at Midway was the result of a succession of mistakes born out of arrogance. Some of these stretched back to before the war, with an overall strategy against the United States dependent on too many assumptions that the Americans would react as the Japanese expected. Added to this was an arrogance built up over six months of victories, campaigning which left the Japanese fleet exhausted. By contrast, the Americans benefited from intelligence decryptions which alerted them in advance to Japanese intentions and allowed them to plan for a successful counterstroke. Yet Bicheno continually notes the factor of chance in shaping the outcome, from the illness that replaced "Bull" Halsey with Raymond Spruance, to off-course scouts coming across the enemy fleet. Together they provide a compelling portrait of the chaos of battle, from which it was the Americans who would emerge triumphant.

Though a military historian, Bicheno is not a specialist in the Second World War or in naval warfare. While this gives him a relatively fresh perspective to the conflict, the lack of original research limits the novelty of some of his more provocative challenges to the received wisdom about the battle. Nevertheless, with its useful tables, judicious analysis, and copious use of maps and pictures, Bicheno's book is an enjoyable and stimulating study of the battle of Midway, one that can serve as a provocative introduction for any newcomer to the historic naval clash.
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