“The Battle For Tinian: Vital Stepping Stone in America’s War Against Japan” by Nathan N. Prefer from Casemate Publishers.

Mr. Prefer has written an outstanding book on the battle for Tinian. While only 240 pages, it is an excellence examination of the battle and planning. Persons interested in World War Two in the Pacific will enjoy its direct and easily understood style. The author is a master communicator. I highly recommend the book. Not only is it the tale of how to plan and execute a battle, it is a model on how to write the history of a battle.

The author starts the book with an historical overview of the Mariana Islands giving the background by placing in context why we are the based on the whereabouts, topography, and military significance. We learn why this location is so important to both the Japanese and the United States.

We look at the Battle for Tinian through the scope of the Battle for Saipan. The planning of the battle, the lessons learned, and the future implications of the education received are enduring.

The author does an excellent job of describing the Japanese stronghold on Tinian down to both their defenses and leadership issues. The unfolding of the decision-making process of the US in selecting the landing sites is a lesson in leadership by itself.

The photographs and simple maps added to the book. Sometimes simple is better. I found myself repeatedly referring back to the maps to locate landing sites and follow the action. The way Mr. Prefer narrated the daily actions and events on landings, attacks, counterattacks had me feeling as if I were there. It was able to touch my emotion through his writing.

He does an extraordinary job pulling it all together and summarizing the campaign. The inclusion of the appendixes with key leadership, causality information, information of the ships, citations, battle orders add significant value to the work. The bibliography will help the serious student or scholar in their further study as will the excellent indexing of the book.

Nathan N. Prefer and Casemate Publishers have hit a home run with the book. Like the order of battler for Tinian, they both have set the example of how book on a battle should be written.

Inferno: The Epic Life and Death Struggle of the USS Franklin in World War II

Joseph A. Springer sets the standard for how oral histories should be written with “Inferno: The Epic Life and Death Struggle of the USS Franklin in World War II”. You feel as if you are on-board as the story of “Big Ben”, the USS Franklin, in World War II unfolds. It is necessary read for anyone who claims to be a World War II history buff.

The book divides into two parts. The ship’s change of commanders is the dividing point – Captain Shoemaker’s command and Captain Gehres’ command.  It is a well-structured book. It starts with the specs and construction of “Big Ben”. It takes us through the training of the crew and shakedown voyages. We travel through the Panama Canal to San Diego and on to Pearl Harbor laying all the appropriate groundwork along the way.

The author rapidly moves us into naval carrier operations. You are there in the South Pacific for many of the famous battles. You experience Iwo Jima, Peleliu, Luzon, Manila, Leyte, and Honshu.

Mr. Springer takes great care in organizing and selecting interviews. You are in the aircraft cockpits experiencing the words and emotions of the men who lived through the survived the events. The stories are breath taking eyewitness accounts and survival stories. He manages to get you inside the heads of the pilots and ship’s crew. You feel the fear and experience the heroism.

The USS Franklin’s size and importance led to one of the Navy’s first encounters with Japan’s Kamikaze attack planes. The suicide pilots delivered terrible damage to “Big Ben” in October 1944 off the Philippines. The damage forced Big Ben back to Bremerton, WA for repairs and a change of command.

In March 1945, “Big Ben” experienced the devastating bomb attack off Honshu, Japan. That attack defined her crews’ extraordinary valor. Somehow, they saved the ship. “Big Ben” traveled back to New York. She was rebuilt, but would never be the same.

Mr. Springer makes good arguments to restore the entire crew of the USS Franklin’s honor. You learn how the spiteful and hateful actions of  her second captain attempted to segregate the crew into two groups. Group one was the sailors and airmen that remained on board during the entire ordeal. Group two was the person who did not stay on-board for the entire ordeal. Unfortunately, Captain Gehres made no differentiation for those who may have been blown overboard by exploding ordnance, forced off due to flames and heat, removed to a rescue vessel as a result of injury or simply because they were ordered to abandon ship. Joseph A. Springer wins the argument that All Hands of the USS Franklin were the real heroes of this gut-wrenching ordeal and fight for survival. This includes those on the rescue vessels.

The book gets my highest rating. It has excellent photographs, maps, illustrations. The reference material at the end of the book will make ever the most critical historian smile. Buy the book. “Inferno: The Epic Life and Death Struggle of the USS Franklin in WWII” is an excellent book.

Source: http://www.keplersmilitaryhistorybookreviews.com/2012/04/inferno-epic-life-and-death-struggle-of.html

The American Aircraft Factory in World War II

The American Aircraft Factory in World War II by Bill Yenne is truly magnificent. When I first had the book in my hand I thought “coffee table book”. After reading the book and looking at the pictures it is so much more. It is a wonderful tribute to the men and women who built the airplanes. It is an excellent history of the aircraft industry in the Unites States. The author gives a great background and understanding of the founders and companies like Boeing, North American, Curtiss, Consolidated, Douglas, Grumman, and Lockheed.

I learned of the Air Mail Act of 1934. The act required the separation of the airlines from manufactures. It caused some like William Edward Boeing to leave the industry. He gives great tribute to the gender shift in the work place and the ramping up of the industry for the war. He takes us through the construction of the facilities as well as the transition back to a peace time production.

The photographs in the book are amazing. I have never seen so many high quality photographs of this era in one collection. Without the pictures the book is a wonderful history of the aircraft industry. With the pictures it is transformed into a work of art.

I highly recommend the book for all aviation and World War II buffs. It would be an excellent addition to community and public school libraries as well. This is a masterpiece that will stand the test of time.