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on 19 March 1998
John Costello did a fine job of detailing the Pacific war from start to finish. At 800 pages this is not a quick read but all the major battles and actions are covered in detail. I found his writing style a bit more dry than John Toland but still eminently readable and engaging. My choice for a good trio of books on the conflict would be John Toland's 'The Rising Sun', Dan Van der Vat's 'The Pacific Campaign' and John Costello's 'The Pacific War'. These three belong on the bookshelf of anyone with a more than passing interest in that era and any one alone would be more than adequate for the amateur historian. Costello's book included a section at the end on Pearl Harbor that hints at more sinister behind-the-scenes actions. While I'm not a conspiracy buff, that section was intriguing and unique to the Costello book.
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on 27 January 2015
"The Pacific War" tells, in about 700 pages, the story of the Allied war against the Japanese, from the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 to the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by a-bomb in August 1945. It is incredibly detailed, but never fails to relate how the individual battles like Midway, Guadacanal and Iwo Jima fit into the overall picture of the war. As such, it should appeal to the general reader as well as the military historian. Recommended.
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on 25 April 2015
Superb... it's a well known story but this telling is loaded with little nuggets of information that are a delight. It must have been a labour of love to have gathered and interspersed all that data in such a readable way. I'm very happy I bought it!
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on 9 March 2014
"The Pacific War" by John Costello is a good serviceable history of the Second World War in the Pacific. The writing style is clear and readable if not particularly exciting. As a narrative history of the war it covers all the major events, starting with a discussion of the development of politics and naval tactics before the war and the build up to Pearl Harbour.

Despite its size however this book fails to provide any real detail. Most of the coverage is of the naval campaign and little or no time is spent describing the weapons and tactics of the opposing armies. Similarly there are very few quotes or first hand accounts from those who fought in the war. Occasionally there is a snippet of detail, such as the stench of rotting vegetation on Guadalcanal but this does not even begin to describe the horrendous experience of fighting there.

Some effort is made to describe the numerous wartime conferences between the Allied leaders as a necessity of understanding the way the Pacific War was fought. Political considerations dictated the resources available. But there are very few descriptions of the weapons, vehicles and aircraft used, their relative strengths and weaknesses.

The focus is very much on the Allied perspective which is fairly common but no effort seems to be made to describe the psychology of the Japanese nation and the soldiers it produced. The Pacific War was one of the most brutal wars ever fought due to the inherent racism displayed by both sides. At no point does John Costello really address this except to say that the Japanese soldiers brutal training produced brutal soldiers.

All in all this book does provide a good introduction to the subject of the Pacific War but for a book of this size I really expected a lot more. Perhaps this is best read in conjunction with another author - Laurence Rees or Max Hastings perhaps, who really deal with the issues involved and not just the basic facts.
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on 26 August 2016
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on 14 September 2017
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on 17 February 2017
I like to know our military history and this book provides me with more information. Thank you.
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on 9 November 1998
Costello has written a very good one volume trreatment of the Pacific Campaign. Easily one of the most readable volumes written on this part of the war. I was disappointed near the end when I discovered glaring factual errors concerning the Battle for Okinawa. It may have been simple conclusion drawing or poor editing, but it misinforms the reader as to the reasons the Japanese chose the strategy that they did. Dispite this and undoubtably other minor errors I would highly recommend the volume.
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VINE VOICEon 28 July 2011
At about 700 pages this is a massive tome - and it is the best overview of the Pacific War I have read. The clear style combines a strategic overview with tactical details, and the occasional extract from battle memoirs. I also found very helpful the occasional short link to what was happening elsewhere (say, Europe) at the time of a certain stage. I should say that "Pacific War" takes in the China war, and the battles as far as India and the Indian Ocean strikes. Costello is very good on the complicated US/Chinese politics, which he boils down to an occasional lucid perspective.
The book is good on the politics, on the commanders' rivalries - not spun out, but factual and to the point; but mainly this is about the military struggle, after the first 128 pages. My only complaint was a lack of maps, which I later discovered are all at the very end in my edition (Collins, 1981) - and not listed in the contents!
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on 5 January 2012
This is a very informative book. The historic reasons for the conflict between Japan and USA is extensively described, even the early history in the 19th centuri. What I miss are personal reports of pilots, the atmosphere on the carriers, the estimation of the pilots by the other crew of the carriers. The dayly live and fellings of the crew members. This is not a negative point, because it is only my personal interest.
The conduct of the war is given in detail. A very great book.
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