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Battle of Savo Island Paperback – 1 May 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 6 pages
  • Publisher: Saint Martin's Press Inc.; 2 Revised edition (May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805070729
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805070729
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.7 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,431,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent detail regarding the demise of Vincennes, Quincy and Astoria in this battle that woke up the USN to the fighting skills of the IJN early in the War. Why no questions about Jarvis? The post battle analysis and political fallout shows that 50 years later the same
mistakes will be made, fighting new battles by the old rules!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A decent enough book, but bearing in mind the "battle" took all of 15 minutes, don't expect an in-depth naval warfare epic. More of a "Japanese show up, sink 4 cruisers" for a couple of dozen pages, about 100 pages of casualty details then another 100 of finger pointing about what went wrong" account..
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x96e05b7c) out of 5 stars 18 reviews
48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9bd466bc) out of 5 stars Briskly told 8 May 2002
By Robert M Gordon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Just finished this work. I have not read any other books dedicated to this battle alone; my searches indicate, however, that this is still the definitive account of the battle, 60 years later.
Plusses: Clear, lucid style. Prominent featuring of eyewitness accounts. Strikes balanced level of detail, rendering the work readable and valuable to readers of varying familiarity with naval terminology. And perhaps biggest plus of all; if you want to read something specifically about Savo, well, this is pretty much all there is (to my knowledge).
Minuses: "Ship by Ship" narrative style sometimes leads to repeating relatively minor anecdotes, without apparent need. After a superb introduction, detailing Japanese operations up to the first salvo, the author almost completely ignores the Japanese perspective during the battle itself. Newcomb obviously had access to Japanese participants in order to write the opening chapters; why did he not include their accounts of what happened during the battle?
Overall, well worth reading.
Newcomb repeatedly emphasizes the shortcoming of a fractured chain of command, and divided forces (so too, did the investigating admiral after the fact). I would wholly agree that these were deep shortcomings in the Allied force. I suspect, however, that these specific factors may not have been decisive. ALL ELSE BEING EQUAL, if all 6 cruisers had been together in one group, under positive command of one flag officer, I personally believe that the outcome would have been similar. Horrifically poor long-range reconnaissance, poor communications, superior Japanese night tactics and weapon (an outstanding torpedo), and an early-war complacent atmosphere were more pertinent to the case at hand. The biggest SINGLE factor, I believe, was the complete breakdown of reconnaissance.
These guys simply had no situational awareness. The most ably led, superbly trained force will still get bushwacked if they simply don't know what their environment is.
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96faf444) out of 5 stars The 2nd Greatest Disaster in the History of the U.S. Navy 14 Nov. 2004
By Jeffrey T. Munson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
On the evening of August 9, 1942, a Japanese force of cruisers and destroyers steamed down "the slot" toward the American beachhead at Guadalcanal. Despite being spotted on four different occasions by Allied forces, these Japanese ships managed to achieve complete surprise on the unsuspecting Allied forces covering the entrance to Savo Sound. In the span of eight minutes, four Allied heavy cruisers (USS Astoria, USS Vincennes, USS Quincy, and HMAS Canberra) were sunk by the Japanese, whose expertise at night fighting and the use of torpedoes became painfully clear to the Allies on this night.

Why were the Japanese so successful and why were the Allies caught so completely by surprise? There are several factors. First, the Japanese cruisers carried torpedo tubes while the Allied cruisers did not. The Japanese used their torpedoes with deadly accuracy, while the Allies had to rely on guns alone. Second, the ultimate failure of the command structure of the Allied forces played a large part in the defeat. The Japanese force was spotted on its approach at least four times. Each time, the sughting was inaccurately described, or the message never reached those in charge of the ships. Also, the overall commander of the Allied forces, Admiral Crutchley, failed to notify the commanders of the other ships that he was removing his flagship, the HMAS Australia, from the group. This left no one in overall command. The cruiser captains were forced to fend for themselves. These factors, plus an overwhelming desire by the Japanese to succeed, led to the disaster at Savo Island. Had the Japanese continued the fight and attacked the American transports which were unloading off of Guadalcanal, the disaster would have been much worse for the Allies.

Author Richard F. Newcomb does a very good job describing this great loss for the Allies. He describes the intrepid Japanese Admiral Mikawa, who decided to attack the Americans, as well as all of the sightings of his force by the Allies. Perhaps his best work in this book is how he describes the action on each Allied cruiser, devoting a separate chapter to the Astoria, Vincennes, Quincy, and Canberra. A good follow-up to the battle is also provided at the end of the book.

I recommend this book. It does a good job of describing one of the darkest days of the United States Navy and the lessons which were learned from the defeat. These lessons led ultimaely to the defeat of Japan.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96f5c5ac) out of 5 stars Review of Battle of Savo Island 7 Jun. 2010
By Benedict W. Lohr - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Battle of Savo Island by Richard F. Newcomb is a fine book with a wealth of background material, details, human-interest stories, and official assessments (including the findings of the post-event examinations of the breakdowns in the U.S. Navy's failures in this early defeat). The book is constructive in that it does not simply castigate the Navy for its ineptitudes, but discusses the positive lessons that were learned from this defeat that had positive effect later one in the war. It is a timely book to help understand the battle that occurred as part of the first major U.S. offensive at Guadalcanal in the summer of 1942. It is well written and is informative to those who are interested in learning more about this aspect of the war in the Pacific. The one negative criticism I would offer is that the map (pp. 112-113) is poorly done. First of all it is not completely drawn (for example, the outline of the northern coast of Guadalcanal is missing as are parts of some words) and it is not dynamic in character (showing the progress of the battle with ship log times and fates). It would have been far better to have included a map similar to another one on p.192 or the Savo Island battle map shown in Samuel Eliot Morison's The Two Ocean Navy, Holt, New York, 1963: pp 170-171. Such a detailed map would greatly facilitate understanding of what occurred in that engagement, beyond the verbal descriptions.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96f2bcf0) out of 5 stars Informative & Enlightening 8 July 2011
By Francis Gallagher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an outstanding account on the Battle of Savo Island. My Uncle was killed in the battle on the USS Quincy and it really helped me to know what had happened the day he died. I am very grateful to the author for presenting a complete picture of what happened.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96fb5d50) out of 5 stars A World War 2 naval disaster 31 July 2009
By Bernardo Wu - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Savo, Rendova, Vella Lavella, Kula Gulf, Kolombagara, Bougainville were, for many decades, justa a bunch of islands with strange-souding names in a far-flung South Pacific archipelago, lost somewhere between Hawaii and Australia. That was, until 7 August, 1942, exactly 8 months after Pearl Harbor, when started a bloody campaign that would span for 17 months, cost hundreds of lives and sent to the bottom of the ocean about 100 warships - Allied and Japanese - so many that it is called officially The Ironbottom Sound.
The Battle of Savo Island started as a Japanese Navy attempt to counter the landing at Guadalcanal and Tulagi. Sending in a force of cruisers and destroyers under Admiral Gunichi Mikawa aimed at the fleet off the beaches supporting the landing of the US 1st Marine Division, the Japanese were confronted by an Allied motley force of cruisers and DD's under Australian Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley. Like in the Murphy's Law, everything that could go wrong went wrong. No one was in command; the American skippers just didn't know what was going on until too late. Taken pants down by the Japanese, the multinacional force was smashed ship by ship, under cannon fire and the dreaded Long-Lance torpedoes, losing 4 cruisers and suffering heavy damage on a cruiser and two DD's.
In a harrowing account, Richard Newcomb gives an almost minute-by-minute description of the night engagement that almost turned back the American forces from the Solomons. Savo Island, thru its mistakes and blunders, taught the US Navy a lesson, learned the hard way, but learned for good.
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