A history of the battle at Guadalcanal draws on first-time translations of official Japanese defense accounts and declassified U.S. radio intelligence to recreate this critical campaign. Reprint. 25,000 first printing. NYT.
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Richard B. Frank was born in Kansas in 1947. He served for almost four years in the United States Army, including a tour of duty in Vietnam as an aerorifle platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division. He is the author of Guadalcanal.Review:
It is fair to say that, if you want to read a good account of the Battle of Guadalcanal on land (as opposed to the battle at sea), you will have to go a long way to find a more comprehensive report than this book. Make no mistake, it is well researched, well put together and well written. The book comprises 880 pages (including Indices) of fine print with an additional 22 pages of glossy B&W photos (39 pictures altogether) placed together at the centre. Having said that, I did personally find particular problems with the index system which frustrated me at first and, as a researcher, it was not as though I was new to the concept! Nevertheless, I am happy to admit that it was me who may have been at fault and for that reason I am happy to write this revised review. Of course, there are books which people read from cover to cover and others which are used purely for research purposes and only consulted as and when needed. For me, this book was expected to fall into that latter category but, almost as soon as I started looking for some specific item of information, I found myself drawn into reading the entire work. It really is that compelling. Altogether, one of the better accounts which scores heavily for attention to detail, depth of research and for being such a darned good read. There really is not much more you could want from any book. --By Ned Middleton
Richard B. Frank has written what I consider to be the authoritative account of the Guadalcanal campaign of August 1942-February 1943. A military offensive undertaken by the United States seven months after the Japanese attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbour, the Guadalcanal campaign was marked on both sides by successes as well as by setbacks. What I found particularly fascinating was Richard Frank's detailed description of the Imperial Japanese Navy's three areas of superiority over the U.S. Navy during their naval engagements: (1) highly trained naval gunners and commanders who were well-versed in night fighting naval tactics; (2) night optics/night vision capabilities; (2) the Long Lance torpedo. In a number of instances, Japanese naval lookouts were able to see approaching U.S. Navy ships long before the U.S. Navy could identify Japanese vessels! The superiority of the Long Lance torpedo over its American counterpart (the latter was virtually useless in sinking anything!) allowed the Imperial Japanese Navy to seriously damage or sink a number of American ships. Frank also points out that during the naval encounters off the coast of Guadalcanal, the U.S. Navy utilised radar with mixed results. Land masses - like Savo Island just off the north-west coast of Guadalcanal - produced misleading images on the U.S. Navy's radar screens at night. In addition, with the exception of U.S. Admiral Willis "Ching" Lee who commanded a battleship-based naval task force off the coast of Guadalcanal, few American naval officers had been trained in the use of naval radar and were thus unable to understand or properly exploit this new technology within the confined waters of "Iron Bottom Sound." I was particularly intrigued to read Frank's detailed descriptions of U.S. Marine Major General Alexander Vandegrift's calculated, strikingly bold, even risk-taking tactical dispositions and offensive operations against the Japanese Army, particularly the series of battles along the Matanikau River just west of the U.S. Marine base at Henderson Field. These actions, based on his and his staff's brilliant analyses of the strengths and shortcomings of the Japanese Army, allowed the U.S. Marines to keep the Japanese Army off balance. When the Japanese Army did strike, the Marines more than met the challenge. After all the setbacks and successes, victory came to the Americans in February 1943 with Japan's withdrawal from the island that the Japanese soldiers called "Starvation Island." A companion book to Frank's account of the Guadalcanal campaign, and one that I would highly recommend, is James Jones's autobiographical novel, "The Thin Red Line," based on Jones's experiences as a combat infantryman in the U.S. 25th Infantry Division during the Guadalcanal campaign. Richard Frank's book immortalises those Americans and Japanese who fought on the land, in the air and on the seas in this epochal military campaign. --David Kirk
After the Americans defeated the Japanese at the battle of Midway, an offensive was planned for the Solomon Islands. The primary target was the island of Guadalcanal. In this book, Mr. Frank describes the landings and the capture of Henderson Field in vivid detail. I was also impressed with his descriptions of the fateful battle of Savo Island, where the Allies lost 4 heavy cruisers to an inferior Japanese force. Admiral Fletcher's decision to remove the carriers is discussed, along with the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, where the 5 Sullivan brothers died on the U.S.S. Juneau. Perhaps the most interesting part of this book to me was how Mr. Frank not only provides the American viewpoint of the battle, but also the Japanese viewpoint. It was interesting to read about how aircraft and casualty claims were greatly exaggerated by both sides. I also felt that the final chapter was interesting in the way that everything was summarized for the reader. I have been reading books about the Pacific war since I was in the 4th grade, and this is the most comprehensive account of the entire Guadalcanal campaign that I have come across. This book is a must read for any World War II reader --Larry Petersen
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