Richard Stuart's Reviews > Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal

Neptune's Inferno by James D. Hornfischer
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Apr 04, 12

Read from March 26 to April 04, 2012

Being mostly a fiction man myself, I am ignorant of the stature of books in the genre of WWII (and more specifically, the war in the Pacific). Thus prefaced, James D. Hornfishcer's book is extraordinary! It's detail is astonishing, but not overwhelming. The book never bores or slows down, the aftermath of battles and chapters always eluding to the next terrible clash of ships and men and the sea. The battles are told with the utmost care, making a discernible event out of the chaos of night fighting on the black sea; with scores of different classes of ships from both sides firing death onto one another simultaneously, it is as if the ferocity of Hell is unleashed in superheated metal and twisted flesh. Explosions litter the pages in precisely inked words. The sensibilities are not spared from the utter horror that the elucidation of carnage and damage inflicts upon the reader's consciousness. The book is a clear testament that war is nothing but sheer butchery and the most abhorrent activity that the human species has ever participated in. That said, it is also spectacular in highlighting the things that make men great: courage, determination, bravery, generosity, cooperation, and brotherhood. Although I am many generations removed from the one that fought this war, I was deeply moved by the sacrifice and valor of all the men that fought and died, on both sides. The ending of the book is not some foisted flag or triumph of the right side (we are all on the same side, every living thing together in this squirming universe!), but an emotional eulogy of a survivor putting to rest the silent ghosts of half a century ago. It is poignant and personal, deeply emotional; as we can so easily and often forget when learning about war from the sterilized and skewed textbooks of victory.
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