“The Pacific War: The Strategy, Politics, and Players That Won the War” is the best book I have read on the Pacific War Theater of World War Two. The book presents the decision-making processes, strategies, and at times politics that guided the Allied Forces to victory. You are there decision by decision and campaign.
This is both an extremely readable book filled with recent scholarly research. It is as entertaining as a novel. The prose is amazing. I cannot over emphasize how well written the book is. It has an amazing freshness readers will enjoy and is a book you will read from cover to cover. The book covers all the familiar episodes as well as censored or little known events that played a major role in final victory.
The book begins with the first few chapters setting the background. The chapters that follow tell the story chronologically. The chapters are so well written they could stand as independent historical journal articles. They cover the various campaigns.
You receive insights into all aspects of the war. You learn about the big picture items like Plan Orange (a series of United States Joint Army and Navy Board war plans for dealing with a possible war with Japan during the years between the First and Second World Wars) and it’s implementation.
You learn of the economic mobilization of the USA. You learn of the size of the role of Australia’s involvement in the defeat of Japan as well as the size of General MacArthur’s ego. You learn of the role of breaking code and how it was critical to victories in the Coral Sea and Midway.
The battle between the Army and Navy over command and control amazed me. The infighting between services was childish. It shows the need for strong command and control – I think of the removal of an Army general by a USMC general which from the facts given was justified, but caused inter-service strife. You learn how 1944 presidential candidate Thomas Dewey was made aware of the role of the code breaking by General Marshall to keep him from causing grave injury to the war effort.
The role of the submarines is given due credit. The problems with the torpedoes at the war’s beginning and their resolution show bureaucratic failures and American ingenuity. The decisions to keep US Army Divisions out of Burma and China as well as the struggles between Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai Shek and Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell, Commanding General, China Expeditionary Forces. You learn the details of the Battle of Leyte Gulf and Philippines as well as realize General MacArthur’s personal obsession with the Philippines.
I highly recommend the book. It should be required reading for every Army, Navy, and USMC officer. It should be included in every military and university library as well. This is a very import addition to the history of the Pacific War in World War Two.