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Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal [Kindle Edition]

James D. Hornfischer
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Battle of Guadalcanal has long been heralded as a Marine victory. Now, with his powerful portrait of the Navy’s sacrifice, James D. Hornfischer tells for the first time the full story of the men who fought in destroyers, cruisers, and battleships in the narrow, deadly waters of “Ironbottom Sound.” Here, in stunning cinematic detail, are the seven major naval actions that began in August 1942, a time when the war seemed unwinnable and America fought on a shoestring, with the outcome always in doubt. Working from new interviews with survivors, unpublished eyewitness accounts, and newly available documents, Hornfischer paints a vivid picture of the officers and enlisted men who opposed the Japanese in America’s hour of need. The first major work on this subject in almost two decades, Neptune’s Inferno does what all great battle narratives do: It tells the gripping human stories behind the momentous events and critical decisions that altered the course of history and shaped so many lives.

Product Description


Selected as a Best Book of 2011 by "Military History Quarterly" A literary tour de force that is destined to become one of the . . . definitive works about the battle for Guadalcanal . . . [James D.] Hornfischer deftly captures the essence of the most pivotal naval campaign of the Pacific war. "San Antonio Express-News" Vivid and engaging . . . extremely readable, comprehensive and thoroughly researched. Ronald Spector, "The Wall Street Journal" Superlative storytelling . . . the masterwork on the long-neglected topic of World War II s surface ship combat. Richard B. Frank, HistoryNet The author s two previous World War II books . . . thrust him into the major leagues of American military history writers. Neptune s Inferno is solid proof he deserves to be there. "The Dallas Morning News" The star of this year s reading list is James D. Hornfischer, a military historian whose flair for narrative is rivaled only by his ability to organize the sweep of battle and assess strategy and tactics in layman s terms. "Cleveland Plain Dealer" Outstanding . . . The author s narrative gifts and excellent choice of detail give an almost Homeric quality to the men who met on the sea in steel titans. "Booklist" (starred review) Brilliant . . . a compelling narrative of naval combat . . . simply superb. "The Washington Times""

About the Author

James D Hornfischer is a writer, literary agent and former book editor. He is the author of The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors and Ship of Ghosts, both widely acclaimed accounts of the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during World War II.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 10230 KB
  • Print Length: 516 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (25 Jan. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004C43FXE
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #134,482 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By James Gallen TOP 1000 REVIEWER
"Neptune's Inferno" is the tale of the Navy's role in the tide turning battle of Guadalcanal. Extending from August to November 1942, it brings to life the titanic struggle between the U.S. Navy, weakened by the attack at Pearl Harbor, and the Imperial Japanese Navy as it struggled to supply this outpost of empire.

Author James Hornfisher does an excellent job of placing this story into the context of the overall war. He shows the crucial role that Guadalcanal in the decision between a Germany first policy, as promoted by the President, and Japan first, the choice of the navy. While defeat at Guadalcanal may have compelled an American concentration on the Pacific, the Navy's success permitted the United States to direct its greatest effort against Germany.

Hornfisher presents profiles of the Naval officers involved, particularly, Admirals Nimitz, King and Ghormley. The saying is that amateurs talk tactics while professional talk logistics. This is brought to light by the information that some of the Navy's surviving battleships were tied to the West Coast due to a lack of fuel that would have permitted them to roam the seas. The cameo appearances of the Marines ashore, including the legendary Chesty Puller, and the importance of the IJN in attacking, and USN in protecting, Henderson Field and other Marine installations demonstrate the role of inter-service cooperation in the Pacific War. The practice of the Japanese Army and Navy not to share information and the American communication failures remind us that such problems are nothing new. The incredible series of battles in the Slot that gave the name to Ironbottom Sound enrich the maritime lexicon and boggle the mind with the horror and carnage.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Superb! 29 Sept. 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I don't have enough superlatives to describe this book.It is one of the best naval history books I have ever read.From the beginning of the Guadalcanal campaign to the end you are taken through each of the seven naval actions and learn why the bloody action resulted in the waters being known as "Ironbottom Sound" The men who served there come alive in the detailed narration,the combat is so richly described in that you can almost feel the recoil of the weapons and smell the salt air and the cordite.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Mr Hornfischer's book is a phenominal 500 page tour de force, closely analysing a single campaign- all be it one that encompassed numerous 'incidents' and many battles. He particularly delights in character study and thereby paints vivid word portraits of the American admirals. Some of these men were brilliant, some were rather unpleasant characters and some were both of these things. One inclines to think there were too many of them, similar in rank and with conflicting personalities and egos. One advantage of writing long after the event is that it is not necessary to 'pull punches' when describing the disagreeable side of people like Admirals King and Turner. Some commanders like Nimitz 'the essential man' were peerless strategic thinkers, some, like Halsey, were bold operations men, whilst others, like Ghormley and Fletcher, would be heavily criticised at the time for being either overwhelmed or over cautious. In the event, luck favoured the bold- especially Halsey, who repeatedly authorized risky assaults which ran contrary to established practice and dogma.

It is intriguing to learn that Guadalcanal and its airstrip had not played a really significant role in Japanese strategic thinking, but because the Americans thought that it did they determined to stage a great 'showdown' and defeat the US Navy whilst recapturing it. In 1942 the US Pacific Fleet was not yet the overwhelming force it would become by 1944.

The book illustrates very vividly how determined the American were to hold on to Guadalcanal, even though initial use of their carrier force was timid: Admiral Fletcher had seen the carnage wrought at Midway and the US Navy only had four big carriers in the Pacific.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought the Kindle version of this book to read while I was on holiday as I do not know much about this campaign, or any other in the Pacific during World War Two for that matter. It took me a while to appreciate just how good a book it is because I am used to reading books by British authors such as Roskill and Smith, and took a while to get used to Hornfischer's writing style. However, once I got used to his style, I found the book compelling.

Hornfischer deals not only with the naval campaign, but touches on the ground battle for Guadalacanal, and the struggle between the US Marine Corps and a Japanese Army reinforced by the "Tokyo Express". In addition, he lays bare the unpreparedness for surface combat of the USN in comparison to the Japanese Navy in the early part of the campaign. He give ample detail of some of the major figures on both sides during the campaign some of which are decidedly unflattering (King), and gives credit where it is due (Nimitz, and to a some extent Fletcher).

His descriptions of the night battles around Savo Island and Guadalcanal are visceral. I have read no better descriptions of the confusion and horror of naval combat in WW2. These battles were not conducted at long-range, but were short-range bar-room brawls where a minute's indecision on either side meant the difference between victory and defeat. He touches on the personal too in some moving and horrifying descriptions of the effect and aftermath of battle. The most touching for me was the story of a sailor clinging to a dead body, and when asked to let go and be rescued he could could not because he was holding on to his brother.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting into the weeds of the horrendously bloody Solomons campaign...
Getting into the weeds of the horrendously bloody Solomons campaign, this book really provides insights into the issues suffered by the Allied and Axis navies in this key campaign... Read more
Published 3 months ago by John M. Bannerman
4.0 out of 5 stars A quick comment.
Excellent,.... A good read. This author is good at describing the sheer horrors of being aboard a warship when she's being attacked. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A must read worth five stars any day.
Published 6 months ago by trevob
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellant
By far the best book about the US Navy at Guadalcanal I have seen. All I need now is another book about the land battles and thats it.
Published 13 months ago by m.j.towsey
5.0 out of 5 stars A really great war storey,
Yes it’s a naval storey but it has a far broader appeal.
War is usually thought about as a conflict between machines; it avoids the thinking about the human tragedy. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written account of the pivotal naval battles brought about by the...
James Hornfischer writes in a very readable style and gives up-to-date accounts of the battles that turned the tide permanently in the favour of the United States Navy. Read more
Published 22 months ago by simon fisher
5.0 out of 5 stars From engine rooms to flag bridges, a dramatic recounting of stunning...
The WWII history of Guadalcanal is justifiably focused on the long battle waged ashore by the United States Marine Corps in order to secure an airfield base of operations in the... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Long-Suffering Technology Consumer
5.0 out of 5 stars Setting the record straight
A whole series of myths have been dispelled by this well documented book. His prose is factual and matter of fact--no Bruce Catton he--but all the more compelling for its news... Read more
Published 23 months ago by mjo763
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent historical analysis of the Gudacanal Campaign
A very interesting book. Well written and obviously well researched.
Even better than "The last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors" also by the same Author. Read more
Published on 11 May 2013 by awakeinaustin
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great
I am a fan of this author and this book is a good of factual account of some of the naval battles around Guadalcanal. Read more
Published on 25 Feb. 2013 by Canary Steve
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