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The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the US Navy's Finest Hour Paperback – 15 May 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam USA; New edition edition (15 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553381482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553381481
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 149,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Cook on 9 Sept. 2012
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I have to say that this book is a disappointment. The first 92 pages is mainly background setting, most of it concentrating on the life stories of men who will obviously feature as heroes later on, especially those serving in the Destroyer Escort Samuel B Roberts and Escort Carrier St Lo. To my mind this is 'over done' and far too long. I found Mr Hornfischer's book 'Hells Inferno', on Guadalcanal, also a bit slow at first- but that develops into excellant book and is not nearly as 'mushy' and jingoistic as this one.

When writing about only one battle in a campaign that encompassed four it is always going to be difficult getting the balance right, since the other three cannot be completely ignored. Unfortunately in this respect there is little evidence of research and there are many errors. Describing the Sho- 1 plan the impression is given that the Southern Japanese force was carefully planned, whereas Nishimura's squadron was actually very extemporised and was never originally intended at all. It is assumed to have been a key feature of the Sho 1 plan that Kurita arrrive at Leyte coincident with Nishimura- whereas in fact the latter was always scheduled to be there first by a considerable margin. The Battle of the Sibuyan sea, including Musashi's sinking, occupies only two pages.

After reading Anthony Tully's account of the Battle of Surigao Straight I found this short 'how we won the war' version actually rather distasteful, and also full of errors- especially the old one about Fuso staying afloat for hours in two halves, whilst the cruiser Mogami's heroic fight is completely ignored.

Really the errors and 'bias' in this book are not too surprising since in the vast 26 page biography I have found not a single Japanese- originated source!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Maciej TOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 Oct. 2011
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Battle of Samar, fought on 25 October 1944 between Taffy 3, a small American task force commanded by Rear-Admiral Clifton A.F.("Ziggy") Sprague and the Center Force, the main body of Japanese Imperial Fleet commanded by Vice-Admiral Takeo Kurita, was a relatively short but incredibly intense, dramatic and bloody naval fight. In this book James D. Hornfischer describes this unbelievable battle with great detail and clarity, producing the most complete and the best account on this topic until now. I read this book with real pleasure and although already quite familiar with this archi-famous battle, I still learned a lot. I recommend it absolutely to anybody who is interested in naval history or military history in general and for anybody studying the Second World War in Pacific, this is a must!

If you are not yet familiar with this battle, here are some general facts, which should help understand the topic, without spoiling the pleasure of reading. Between 23 and 26 October 1944 US Navy and Japanese Imperial Fleet fought in the waters around the Philippines four major battles and a number of smaller engagements which together are known as Battle of Leyte Gulf - it is generally considered as the greatest naval battle ever fought (with the battle of Jutland in 1916 being the only one coming close to it in number of ships and sailors engaged). For the needs of this battle, the outnumbered and outgunned Japanese conceived a desperate but very clever plan, setting a trap for American commanders (Admiral William Halsey for 3rd Fleet and Admiral Thomas Kinkaid of 7th Fleet).
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James Hornfischer has put together a set of eye-witness accounts of the naval battle known as The battle off Samar in which a large Japanese battleforce surprised an American task group of escort carriers and their escorts and came off worse in the ensuing action. His handling of the descriptions of this incredible battle is masterfully done and one feels part of the action as the heavily outnumbered task group fights for its life against impossible odds. We are introduced to some of the men who are to be in the thick of the fighting, especially those who man the destroyers who bear the brunt of the action. Fighting monster battleships some 35 times their weight and suffering terrible damage and injuries the men of these ships met their fate in their almost suicidal 'death ride' to save the carriers they were screening. Hornfischer describes the harrowing scenes as the ships are literally torn apart by shellfire with almost too much realism; leaving one with a sense of sheer disbelief that men can endure such horrors. This is a really good read that is hard to put down as the task force faces almost certain annihilation. The ending, if you don't know it, is beyond belief.
Well illustrated and well written with good insights into how this 'shouldn't have happened' battle came about.
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I can only add what others have said about "The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors" .
This is a first rate work of military history which is very well written and illustrated ,
and has the added advantage that some of the stuff you learn about the entire fight
was only briefly touched upon in other books
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