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The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History)

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  824 ratings  ·  75 reviews
There are few moments in military history in which the course of events tipped so suddenly and so dramatically as at the Battle of Midway. At dawn of June 4, 1942, a rampaging Japanese navy ruled the Pacific. By sunset, their vaunted carrier force (the Kido Butai) had been sunk by American planes. Though the Second World War had three more years to run, the Imperial Japane ...more
Published September 7th 2011 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2011)
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This is a good overview of US Naval operations in the Pacific from the time Nimitz takes command of the Pacific Fleet in December of '41 thru the Battle of Midway.

Dr. Symonds does a good job of laying out the problems Nimitz had with both the Japanese and dealing with Adm King and the Washington establishment and how he dealt with them.

I felt the author has a reader friendly writing style and I was never bored or felt that he was overwhelming me with detail. At the same time, he does not gloss
Ree Linker
Disclaimer: I have never found the study of history to be entertaining. Thus I am embarrassingly ignorant about anything historical. I came into this book with no background on the battle of Midway, the war in the Pacific, or, to a large extent, WWII (sad, I know. I'm working on it).

* Symonds does a great job of providing the background and the lead up to the battle itself. So while things didn't really get exciting until about half-way through (the battle of the Coral Sea), it wasn't a t
The Battle of Midway by Craig Symonds is an excellent addition to the Pivotal Moments in American History series. This book provides a critical look at the time between Pearl Harbor and just after the Battle of Midway where America was finding its way against the combined fleet of the Japanese Navy. The book includes a discussion of Pearl Harbor and its impact on naval operations as well as the Doolittle raid that followed. Some time is spent on the Battle of the Coral Sea as well as the victori ...more
Excellent military history of the Battle of Midway. Author avoids the trap of taking sides, doesn't call U.S. victory a "miracle,"' doesn't say we won because of democracy or being braver than the Japanese. Just a straightforward analysis of a military battle in which one side had radar (US), one side had advanced warning of the other side's intentions thanks to code breaking (US), one side was dropping 1,000-pound bombs vs. one side that had 500-pound bombs, etc. Extremely detailed analysis of ...more
Jean Poulos
I almost skipped over this book as over the years I have read so many books about the Battle of Midway; I thought to myself do I want to read another book on this subject. I am glad I did decide to read this book as I learned more about the battle from it.

Midway was a pivotal battle of WWII. Symond is a professor emeritus from the U. S. Naval Academy.
Many historians including Symonds have compared the Battle of Midway to that of Lord Nelson’s win at the Battle of Trafalgar. The comparison is ap
"The Battle of Midway" is a great read for naval history aficionados as well as for those who want to learn more about this pivotal battle of World War II but don't know too much about military history, as Symonds is fairly careful to explain the terms he uses which may not be known to the casual reader.
The book begins with the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack in December, 1941, and includes the events (the Battle of the Coral Sea, etc.) that lead up to the Battle of Midway in June, 1942. It
Russ Smith
Good account of the Battle of Midway in 1942. The timeline of the battle itself is handled quite well, realizing that it is complicated. Symonds does a good job of providing background, and personality profiles of the primary combatants, a detail I find quite interesting. I also thought that Symonds discussing some of the details about the ships and planes as well as the ordnance was interesting: His explanation of the problems with the Mark 14 torpedo for example. I would have enjoyed a little ...more
Great read, especially if you consider yourself somewhat of a student of the WWII war in the Pacific. If you do, and think you know a lot about the battle of Midway, I will bet you will realized upon finishing this book that you knew about half of what you thought you knew.

The author's writing style also makes this an easy read. Some writer's of military history get so hung up on the various units and sub-units, and unit designations that before long it is hard to remember who did what. I didn'
Unlike many other books on this battle, which tend to attribute the American victory in this pivotal battle to luck or good fortune, this author's premise is that the outcome of the Battle of Midway was a direct result of the personalities of the major players and the differences between Japanese and American cultures. The author credits the superiority of American technology, including its code-breaking efforts and the effectiveness of radar, as major factors in the battle. In addition, the aut ...more
Steven Hull
Feb 26, 2014 Steven Hull rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in WWII in the Pacific
The Battle of Midway. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. (Kindle Edition)

Chicago’s airports are the namesakes of a famous World War II Medal of Honor recipient and a pivotal battle. Lieutenant Butch O’Hare and the Battle of Midway are unfamiliar to most Americans today, but when the airports were renamed in 1949 everyone who had lived through the desperate days of early 1942 recognized why the airports’ new identities were fitting memorials to a brave Navy pilot and the turning point in th
Robert Melnyk
Excellent account of this pivotal battle of WWII. The book goes into the days and events leading up to the battle, detailing both sides of the conflict. You are given a very good sense of the strategies and plans of both Japan and the U.S., and also are given insight into the personalities of the people involved. Very interesting read if you are a history buff, especially if you enjoy WWII history.
Mac McCormick III
So many histories of the Battle of Midway consider the US Navy lucky in defeating the Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway in June 1942. Historian and author Craig L. Symonds, in The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History), argues that luck wasn't the primary factor in the US victory at Midway. In the process of showing that there was more than just luck involved Symonds shows how the US and Japanese navies came to be in their respective positions, debunks a myth, and casts a sha ...more
John Lomnicki,
I am glad that I read this book prior to Pacific Crucible. This is a good book that has some new information, but Ian Toll really pulls it altogether in a very readable volume.
This was an enjoyable book to read. It was filled with numerous facts about the importance of the battle of Midway. It was written in a manner that was both highly informative and enjoyable to read. The author was very forth coming with the facts no matter how bad some of those facts might of made our military look.
All in all this was a book that provided a fair look at our military during this major battle.

Added note for those history buffs that enjoy really digging into a subject. The Naval Ac
Alex Krembs
For the uninitiated to WWII Pacific History author Symonds provides enough background story to appreciate the impact of this battle in the context of the world conflict. For those who know the history well, there is an excellent telling of each battle in a blow by blow sequence, as well as uncovering some new information, and offering a different perspective. For those who want to come up to speed on the Pacific War, and selects only a handful of books on the subject, this should be one of them.
Without question, this is one of the best war accounts I have ever read. Symonds has that rare ability to cram tons of facts and research into a book, yet still make it a compelling read. Anyone who has ever served in the Navy knows the basics of this battle--it is considered the pivotal moment in 20th Century US Navy history--but I learned much by reading this book. Symonds does an excellent job of profiling many of the key characters like Nimitz, Spruance, Yamamoto, and Nagumo, and then showin ...more
Paul Donahue
The only thing which fascinates me more than the amount of trees in the world is the amount of water in the world. The depth and scope of the ocean has always intrigued me in a uniquely terrifying way. I don't mean I'm scared of drowning or sharks or Cthulu, there's just something overwhelming about the magnitude of the ocean depths. Like space, only if you couldn't see beyond the first bluish-green layer, and you knew that somewhere at the end of the vast beyond was a dark, finite end inhabited ...more
This is a very detailed history of the famous battle that in 2 hours changed the course of WWII. About 1/3 of the book is a blow by blow account of the actual battle and the first 2/3's is a very good history of the key events that led up to the battle. These include the Doolittle raid on Japan and the Battle of the Coral Sea. Midway has long been hailed as a miracle for the U.S. and in the introduction the author suggests that the victory was really not all that surprising. I don't think he mak ...more
Craig Symonds has written a book that has been sorely needed - a good, general history of the Battle of Midway that incorporates all of the recent scholarship and information that has come to light in the last ten years from the likes of Lundstrom, Isom, Parshall & Tully, Russell, and sources like the Battle of Midway Roundtable. I would put it at the top of the list for any newcomer to Midway.

What this book also does is put the battle in context by starting with the appointment of Admiral N
Gary Braham
I've always had an interest in history, as well as in WWII history. I knew the basics of the Battle of Midway, but had always wanted to read more. The authors style is very detailed, but it still flows very easily. I got caught several nights staying up too late just because I didn't want to put the book down. The book is some 450 pages long, but the last 150 are all notes. (As a side note, this is pretty annoying on a Kindle when you think you are only 65% of the way through a book, and then it ...more
Continuing my journey through WW2 I wanted to continue my understanding of the far east campaigns and in particular some of the Naval campaigns that happened on the American front.

Most people have seen the film, but I wanted more details on the full aspects of the Battle of Midway, the build up to it following Pearl Harbour and the advance across the Pacific until the final victory over the Japanese Empire.

This book isn't just about the one Battle, it takes you through the whole sea war in the
This is a very solid review of the Battle of Midway. I'm no expert on the naval battles of the Pacific, but it seems like a measured and rational examination of the campaign that led up to the battle and the battle itself.

The one drawback is that it's unclear to me who the target audience is. There's an extensive section devoted to examining the various admirals and captains who participated in the battle, suitable for someone not familiar with this time period. But at the same time, sections of
Brian Wade
Grateful for the men & women who have served and are currently serving in our armed forces. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand was one of my top 3 favorite reads in 2013. (movie adapt' out soon) Unbroken is why I ordered Midway, but the two books are very different. Unbroken is more mainstream whereas Midway is an analytical, History-channel documentary type read. My biggest take-away: how in the muthalovin Heyall did we actually manage to win this battle?!?! - yes, this book explains in detail h ...more
This is the latest and most authoritative work on the Battle of Midway (June 1942). I have listened to it twice and highly value the distinctions and also the details about the people involved. For all you young whipper snappers, this was the pivotal battle in the Pacific in WWII.
As I knew nothing of this battle before I started to read I feel I can't do this justice from a fact checking standpoint. However, I can say that I enjoyed the book and the pictures that helped me gain insight into how this played out from a geographical standpoint.
Ian Divertie
The best book on Midway ever. Points out some previously unknown facts that are just sad and depressing. "The fault is not in our stars but in....." Read it and learn! New heroes, or even more so than you previously thought, and some really new villains.
Fantastic book. The Battle of Midway is just a fantastic story with great characters. The battle itself is quite dramatic and it shows through naturally without the author overdramatizing the action. This book is good, naturally entertaining history.
Chris Ubing
The history of the battle of midway is a fascinating view of the strategies used by both sides. The Japanese overconfidence in their battle plans is a lesson to all of us not to lie to ourselves in business or in battle.
Terry Quirke
The author does an excellent job giving an overview of the Battle of Midway, and in outlining the events that led to the battle from the attack on Pearl Harbour. It is written in an engaging and reader-friednly style, doesn't get tied up in itself but provides enough details and information to help understand what happened and why, as well as the major characters and their backgrounds and personalities.

I came to the subject not knowing much beyond the basics of what the result was, and came away
A stirring replication of the most pivotal naval battle of world war 2. In addition to describing the action in vivid detail the author provides illuminating background leading up to the engagement and incisive potraits of the participants .
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Craig Lee Symonds is a retired professor and chairman of the history department at the United States Naval Academy.
More about Craig L. Symonds...

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