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Sea Cobra: Admiral Halsey's Task Force and the Great Pacific Typhoonby Buckner F., Jr. Melton
Synopses & Reviews
The Greatest Generation meets The Perfect Storm in this riveting account of one of the most devastating episodes in the Pacific during World War II.
In the final year of the Second World War, as the United States Navy fought Japanese forces in the largest sea battle in human history, none could foresee that just a few weeks later the Pacific Fleet would be fighting another foe: the Pacific Ocean itself. At the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Imperial Japanese Navy had unleashed a new weapon of desperation, the dreaded kamikaze squadrons, in an effort to stave off defeat. Admiral Bull” Halsey, his reputation clouded after controversial decisions at Leyte, grew obsessed with destroying kamikaze air bases in the Philippines. Meanwhile, a tropical storm in the Pacific was slowly gaining power, unseen, untracked, unsuspected. It was headlong into this storm, dubbed Typhoon Cobra, that Halsey would lead his fleet.
Sea Cobra tells the dramatic story of the ships and men of the famed Fast Carrier Task Force as fate lands them squarely in the path of this killer typhoon. Using survivors interviews and other firsthand accounts, seasoned historian and author Buckner F. Melton Jr. tells the story of a modern fleet encountering one of the most destructive forces of nature. As bomb- and gasoline-laden aircraft carriers—and destroyers critically low on fuel—are overtaken by towering waves and hundred-plus-knot winds, the fleet is pushed to the brink of disaster. Melton recounts the many heroic efforts in the fleets struggle to survive, and he also examines the ensuing court inquiry ordered by Admiral Chester Nimitz, as officials sought to make sense of this perilous mission.
In the tradition of Joseph Conrad and Herman Wouk comes a gripping, real-life story of men versus the sea—and against the typhoon named Cobra.
"The ripple of interest in the typhoon that struck the U.S. Third Fleet in December 1944, sinking three destroyers and drowning 800 sailors, swells onward in this absorbing naval adventure saga. Historian Melton (Aaron Burr) paints a wider canvas than do Bob Drury and Tom Clavin in Halsey's Typhoon (reviewed Oct. 9). Like them, he regales readers with firsthand recollections of the shrieking winds and titanic waves that battered ships to pieces, the ordeal of survivors besieged by thirst and sharks, and the heroism of sailors who rescued them in mountainous seas. He recounts at length the subsequent navy inquiry into the performance of meteorologists, Adm. William Halsey and Cmdr. James Marks of the sunken destroyer Hull, who are pilloried by Drury and Clavin but largely exonerated here. Melton pads out the story with a blow-by-blow of the preceding Battle of Leyte Gulf, an account of another typhoon Halsey sailed the Third Fleet into in 1945, and a chapter on Japanese kamikazes. Melton's prose can be purplish — 'The beast was still growing in the heart of the sea... feeding on the heat of the water as if it were mother's milk' — but when the storm breaks, he settles down to a straightforward, gripping narrative. Photos." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Melton recounts the story of how the U.S. Navy's Task Force 38, led by Admiral "Bull" Halsey during World War II, was caught in a typhoon during fighting in the Philippines. He describes the fleet, Halsey's role and decisions, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, what happened when the typhoon (named Cobra) hit, and the later court inquiry ordered by Admiral Chester Nimitz. Melton is a historian and writer-in-residence at Mercer U. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The history of one of the most dramatic and underreported stories of WWII.
One of the costliest battles of World War II happens to be one of the least known. After failing to stop the attack of Admiral Takeo Kurita at Leyte Gulf, Admiral “Bull” Halsey made a desperate attempt to engage the Japanese Imperial Navy in a full-scale battle. Acting against better judgment and in a desperate attempt at redemption, Halsey led his crew into the raging path of a typhoon, which resulted in the loss of nearly one thousand sailors—the most costly mission of the Pacific war.
About the Author
Buckner F. Melton Jr. is a historian and a Distinguished Writer-in-Residence and University Press Fellow at Mercer University. He is the author of A Hanging Offense and Aaron Burr.
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