One of America's preeminent military historians, James D. Hornfischer has written his most expansive and ambitious book to date. Drawing on new primary sources and personal accounts by Americans and Japanese alike, here is a thrilling narrative of the climactic end stage of the Pacific War, focusing on the U.S. invasion of the Mariana Islands in June 1944 and the momentous events that it triggered.
With its thunderous assault into Japan's inner defensive perimeter, America crossed the threshold of total war. From the seaborne invasion of Saipan to the stunning aerial battles of the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot, to the largest banzai attack of the war and the strategic bombing effort that led to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Marianas became the fulcrum of the drive to compel Tokyo to surrender—with consequences that forever changed modern war.
These unprecedented operations saw the first large-scale use of Navy Underwater Demolition Teams; a revolution in the fleet's ability to sustain cross-hemispheric expeditionary warfare; the struggle of American troops facing not only a suicidal enemy garrison but desperate Japanese civilians; and the rise of the U.S. Navy as the greatest of grand fleets. From the Marianas, B-29 Superfortresses would finally unleash nuclear fire on an enemy resolved to fight to the end.
Hornfischer casts this clash of nations and cultures with cinematic scope and penetrating insight, focusing closely on the people who rose to the challenge under fire: Raymond Spruance, the brilliant, coolly calculating commander of the Fifth Fleet; Kelly Turner, whose amphibious forces delivered Marine General Holland "Howlin' Mad" Smith's troops to the beaches of Saipan and Tinian; Draper Kauffman, founder of the Navy unit that predated today's SEALs; Paul Tibbets, who created history's first atomic striking force and flew the Enola Gay to Hiroshima; and Japanese warriors and civilians who saw the specter of defeat as the ultimate test of the spirit.
From the seas of the Central Pacific to the shores of Japan itself, The Fleet at Flood Tide is a stirring and deeply humane account of World War II's world-changing finale.
Praise for The Fleet at Flood Tide
"An impressively lucid account . . . Mr. Hornfischer crisply and satisfyingly sketches all these figures, and his big Iliad contains a hundred smaller ones, as he propels his complex story forward with supple transitions that never leave the reader behind in the details."—The Wall Street Journal
"The Fleet at Flood Tide is a masterful, fresh account of the latter days of the war in the Pacific that ably expands on the prior offerings of such classic naval historians as Samuel Eliot Morison."—The Dallas Morning News
"Hornfischer places the campaign, wonderfully depicted as all his naval histories are, within U.S. strategic goals in the Pacific, especially the need for bases for B-29 bombers. Also noteworthy and welcome: the attention Hornfischer pays to the logistics challenges of the long-distance Pacific war."—Foreign Policy
"Hornfischer has done it again! . . . No matter how many histories of the Western Pacific campaigns one has read, this one should not be missed."—Rear Adm. W. J. Holland, Jr., USN (ret.), Pull Together: Newsletter of the Naval Historical Foundation