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Other titles in the Command series:
Yamamoto Isoroku (Command)by Mark Stille
Synopses & Reviews
Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku was the defining Japanese naval commander of World War II. Although by no means part of the militarist clique that dominated Japanese politics in the 1930s, when war came Yamamoto was completely committed to his country's cause and planned and executed the daring pre-emptive strike on Pearl Harbor that so damaged the US Pacific Fleet and ushered in the Pacific War.
Yamamoto's career in the Imperial Japanese Navy started in the early years of the 20th century and he saw service in the Russo-Japanese War, being wounded in the battle of Tsushima in 1904, before going on to study at Harvard University and serve as a naval attaché in the inter-war years, an experience that was supposed to give him a unique insight into the American psyche. Despite his opposition to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and war with China in 1937, as well as the tripartite pact with Germany and Italy, he retained his position as commander-in-chief of the combined fleet in the warlike Tojo administration and was it was in this position that he led the IJN to war in 1941.
Despite the success of the Pearl Harbor operation, Yamamoto's subsequent handling of the Japanese combined fleet can be called into question. Seeking a 'decisive battle' against the US Pacific Fleet, Yamamoto took up an aggressive position in the Pacific and fought the US Navy at the battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942 and the battle of Midway. Midway can be said to be Yamamoto's 'hour of destiny' as he planned and executed the battle. Though unaware that the Japanese Naval code had been broken, he fatally divided his forces, leaving them vulnerable to piecemeal destruction. The final campaign commanded by Yamamoto was that around Guadalcanal, where Yamamoto's myth of excellence will be totally laid bare. Despite a considerable numerical advantage over the Americans, Yamamoto never brought this advantage to bear. The result was a devastating defeat for the IJN and, eventually, the death of Yamamoto himself.
This title will use these key campaigns to analyze Yamamoto's command style and strategies, and assess how these impacted upon the course of the war in the Pacific and Japan's chances for success.
Yamamoto Isoroku is the most well-known of Japan's military leaders and his name will be forever linked to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Because the attack was such an apparent success, he has gone down as one of the most brilliant naval figures in history.
The truth is rather different as explained in this new book on Yamamoto which examines the reality and myth of one of the most important command figures of the Second World War. The easiest myth to explode is the success of Yamamoto's Pearl Harbor attack which he personally advocated for and went to great extremes to execute. In spite of his insight regarding the outcome of a war between the United States and Japan, Yamamoto's attack was not only a political disaster since it removed any possibility of a negotiated peace, but it had little military impact, and was in fact, unnecessary to guarantee Japan's early war conquests.
Yamamoto's record later in the war is no better, as is examined extensively. As he had at Pearl Harbor, Yamamoto bullied the Naval General Staff into a series of badly conceived operations which lead the Imperial Navy to disaster. At the battle of Coral Sea, the Japanese squandered their numerical advantage and jeopardized Yamamoto's cherished Midway operation. Midway was Yamamoto's battle from its inception and planning through to its execution. His faulty planning and poor execution resulted in a seminal defeat which stopped Japanese expansion in the Pacific.
Even after Midway, Yamamoto's reputation remained high. In the next campaign, the struggle for Guadalcanal, he failed to recognize that this was the decisive battle with the U.S. Navy that he had been seeking. His control of the battle was timid and weak, and thus the Japanese were never able to focus their still superior forces to achieve final victory.
This new look at Yamamoto carefully examines the myth of Yamamoto and his impact on the War in the Pacific.
About the Author
Mark E. Stille (Commander, United States Navy, retired) received his BA in History from the University of Maryland and also holds an MA from the Naval War College. He has worked in the intelligence community for 30 years including tours on the faculty of the Naval War College, on the Joint Staff and on US Navy ships. He is currently a senior analyst working in the Washington DC area. He is the author of numerous Osprey titles, focusing on naval history in the Pacific. He is also the author of several wargames.
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