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The Battle of Midway: The Naval Institute Guide to the U.S. Navy’s Greatest Victory

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The Battle of Midway: The Naval Institute Guide to the U.S. Navy’s Greatest Victory

Edited by Thomas C. Hone

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2013
6-1/4” x 9-1/4”, hardcover, xx + 360 pages
Photographs, maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index. $38.95
ISBN: 9781612511269

 

 

The Battle of Midway looms large to this day in the minds of current United States Navy professionals, the nation’s strategists and war planners, those who develop plans for the fleet’s composition, government officials (both elected and in the civil service) who determine funding for the Navy, and historians of naval warfare, to list only a few. Its outcome vindicated the pre-war prognostications of the supporters of carrier aviation and, in so doing, secured the ground for the aircraft carrier’s centrality in the Navy’s subsequent evolution—physical, doctrinal, strategic, tactical, and even emotional—for the past seventy years and into the foreseeable future.

 

The new Naval Institute guide to the battle is almost entirely a collection of articles and chapters from previous Press publications, in both books and Proceedings (the exceptions are several oral histories and transcriptions of official documents). The dates of publication run the gamut from the 1950s to the early 2000s, with the bulk of the material pre-dating 2000.

 

The editor, Thomas C. Hone, contributes a brief overall introduction and short introductory pieces for each section that set the stage for the various contributions. He deploys an effective blend of chronological and thematic presentation that provides a more useful perspective for analyzing the battle and its impact both on the war in the Pacific and, long-term, on the Navy.

 

The original documents and the oral histories are not readily available and most readers would be hard pressed to locate all the articles drawn from Proceedings without substantial personal libraries or access to research collection. The selections from books, however, all are from works that most students of World War II naval history would own already. This Naval Institute guide to the Battle of Midway thus is something of a mixed bag. It presents a lot of material in a readily accessible form but it does not add to the scholarship surrounding the operation (and some of its elements are very dated indeed). This is a useful work for more casual readers but of limited use to more committed researchers or students.

 

George Morrison
Seattle, Washington

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