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The Two-Ocean War

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  1,369 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison's The Two-Ocean War: A Short History of the US Navy in the Second World War is a classic work, a grand and wholly engaging distillation of Morison's definitive fifteen-volume history of U.S. naval operations in World War II. Morison was a distinguished historian, a former Trumbull Professor of American History at Harvard University. But he also ...more
Published April 1st 2007 by US Naval Institute Press (first published 1963)
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Dr T The book covers all aspects of WWII that the US Navy was involved in.

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I picked up this book looking to get a big-picture grasp of naval operations in WWII to start a research project; and it proved to be exactly what I hoped. Morison gives a concise overview of the major campaigns and battles in which the U.S. Navy participated, and overall naval strategy throughout the war. For operation in which multiple branches of service were involved, such as amphibious invasions, he gives enough of an overview for the reader to understand the operation as a whole, but alway ...more
Michael Whitehead
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For most of my life I have had an interest in reading the WW II. Published in 1963 and written by the official historian for WW II of the US Navy, I believe that this is one of the better books written about the war. Samuel Elliott Morrison, a history Professor at Harvard, received a commission to in the Navvy and served on warships during the war. This volume is a condensed version of his 15 volume official history of the war.

He praises the actions of the Navy where needed and hands out critici
Oct 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Perhaps the finest short naval history of WWII written in the old style...with all the limitations that implies. Ugly biases creep through at times, as I suppose they must when you consider the impact of the author's US Navy 'embedding' on his objectivity. Perhaps sitting through a kamikaze attack would skew anyone's impression of the enemy. Overall an excellent read despite this; particularly notable is the brutal campaign history of "the Slot" off Guadalcanal. ...more
Joel Toppen
Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A very readable account that nicely harmonizes United States Naval operations in the Atlantic theater with the Pacific theater. The writer gives an "insider's look" at the conflict from a naval perspective. ...more
Jun 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Morison here offers a great one-volume summary of his History of U.S. Naval Operations in World War II. It is the place to start if you want to learn about what the U.S. Navy did during the Second World War, which is certainly essentail to understanding the conflict.
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the single volume history of the USN in WWII that I recommend to friends.
Extremely easy and enjoyable to read.
Surprisingly broad overview for a book of its size. It includes more strategy, logistics, and administrative history than could be expected.
Lacks modern preconceived ideas about what was important. This means that often forgotten theaters, like they Med and central Solomons receive far more attention than in more modern works. Operations of the surface Navy and amphibious f
Mike Harper
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the basic and best history of the Navy in WWII. There is just the right amount of detail, and the amazing story is told as only a sailor could tell it.
A military historian or “Navy buff” might want to know more about, say, the Battle of Leyte Gulf or convoy operations in the Caribbean, but the coverage here would provide an excellent starting place for further research. And what better place to go for the details than the author’s definitive 15- volume history of naval operations in the
Gary Henson
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent historical telling of the Allies and Axis Naval conflicts during WWII.
I'm amazed at the depth and interest level Morison brought to a story that's been told by so many.
I'm off to find more by this author.
As a former US Navy Nuclear Submarine sailor I find these stories heart rending and scary as hell.
I don't know how I missed Morison's (1887-1976) books over the years but I'm going to catch up now.
I found a first printing copy on eBay and it sits on my ever expanding shelf of great bo
Adam Gutschenritter
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Very, very well written for a military non-fiction. Very readable with enough specifics to keep the reader well informed of the minutiae while continually focusing on the larger picture and personalities that drove the Naval war effort, still the whole book is a love story written by the Navy and for the Navy and reads as such.
Kevin Barnes
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very good overview on what US Navy operations in World War Two were. Outside of the name dropping, I felt this book was clear and without to much fluff. The fact that he did not try and hide the bad issue that happened was also a change from most books on this subject. Worth the time to read for any who want to know what happened during those frightful years.
William Sariego
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is an abridgment of the author's multi-volume work on the same subject. Informative and readable, it is a solid book for historians of the conflict. For an exciting and dynamic narrative, you might look elsewhere. I have an older edition and the print was quite small. Hope newer printings have corrected that. So it was slow reading but worthwhile. ...more
Christian J
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This summary of naval warfare in WW 2 will leave the reader begging for more. I now wish to explore P.T. Boat engagements with vigor, all because of the far too brief narrative which Morison delivers.
Doug McKay
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thrilling sections from a naval point of view.
Daniel O'Connor
Jan 26, 2021 rated it liked it
You have to want to know all there is to know about naval warfare to get through the book. It was worth reading ( I had to read three popcorn books in between chapters).
Jonathan Kieran
As others have noted, this is a single-volume distillation of Morison's definitive multi-volume account. Even though it still clocks in at just under 600 pages it can still feel condensed, riding a sometimes awkward line between breadth of detail and narrative depth. Morison is a classically-informed military historian, so casual readers might find his attention to the minute particulars of each engagement frustrating. However, he occasionally finds room to spark the imagination with an evocativ ...more
Michael McCue
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Large comprehensive book that covers just about every movement of the US Navy in the 2nd World War.
Au Yong Chee Tuck
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it
The historian Mr Morison served with the US Navy and was later employed as an official historian. Therefore, such a work will be inevitably be biased in favor of the US Navy. It shows in the prose when Mr Morison described the adversaries as "the enemy" whereas the men of the US Navy were "our boys.

As an example, the sentence on page 457 read "The Japanese admiral (Kurita) was sadly bewildered by the way everything we had afloat or airborne went baldheaded for him."

The publisher has included a l
Nov 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history, 2010
To paraphrase Morison, Americans in World War I left the reputation of a brave, almost foolhardy, amateur. World War II left the world with the knowledge that Americans were equal to all others in the practice of the art of war.

The Two Ocean War is an excellent overview of the US Navy's contributions to victory in World War II. It does a good job of putting into perspective fighting a war starting out woefully unprepared, the difficulty of maintaining and supplying fleets across oceans, and the
Oct 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Distilled from Morison's definitive fifteen volume set, The Two-Ocean War is a comprehensive recounting of WWII's naval war, detailing both the large fleet actions of the Pacific as well as the Allied struggles against the German U-Boats in the Atlantic. As Morison was attached to eleven ships during WWII for the express purpose of chronicling the war, he provides a unique historical perspective since he is both the writer and the source.

The book begins with the bumbling incompetence leading up
Oct 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Morison won two Pulitzers because he was a great writer. If you have any interest in the naval aspect of WWII, but don't know where to start, start here.

Those of us raised on a diet of Hollywood War Films need to forget everything and start from the baseline that winning the war was far from a foregone conclusion. We were behind enough of the time to have possibly sued for peace at any turn in the first two years. Bumbling incompetence and bureaucracy cost us dear. Lives were lost needlessly. We
Jun 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
One of the more detailed accounts of the naval aspects of the Second World War, The Two-Ocean War enlightened me about how some of the broader tactical and strategic shifts that occurred during the conflict (i.e. the shift from battleship power to carrier power as the primary method of naval power projection) played out in the context of the blow-by-blow accounts of the major battles. Some of the larger points - the differing views on the role of naval support in the Atlantic theater vs the Paci ...more
Helen Foster
Jun 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Someone else brought it home, but I found myself picking up and running off with The Two-Ocean War--Samuel Eliot Morison's 1963 history of the U.S. Navy in World War II. Morison captured me with his inimitable way of smoothing the reader's way forward. The story shuttles between the Atlantic and the Pacific, as newspaper headlines did for wartime readers. Morison gives a broad overview, pointing us to key factors--supplies, logistics, radar advances, tactical decisions by Doenitz and Yamamoto, v ...more
May 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: WWII-buff wannabees
Shelves: history, wwii
One of the more difficult subjects to keep interesting over 500 pages, Morrison managed to describe battle after battle with sufficient tales of individual bravery, commentary on the significance of tactics and engagements, and grandiose, intense descriptions of incredible accomplishments, that it was actually a riveting page-turner. I came away from the book not only with a much more complete understanding of the naval aspects of World War II, but also a strong appreciation for the fantastic sc ...more
Mar 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Interesting book. Too big a topic to cover in one volume. It is only a little more than a listing of naval actions with the ships involved and the important commanders. A daunting task.

I enjoy military history with diagrams of troop movements in crucial battles. This book had diagrams of ship movements in the major WWII naval battles, particularly in the Pacific.

The diagrams show patterns that make little sense, as the fleets often never actually made visual contact with the ships they were enga
Dr T
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazingly thorough review of the role of the US Navy during WWII. Really informative and detailed without being overly pedantic. (His 15 volume compilation of WWII naval activities is, necessarily, extremely detailed and basically unreadable. It is an extremely valuable reference source.) This book focuses on the major activities, personalities and decisions make to conduct war efforts. It was published in 1963, so information classified at that time but now released to the public is not include ...more
Jan 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Epic in its scope - Morison basically attempts nothing less than to tell the full combat history of the U.S. Navy in WWII - it's quite an excellent survey of those operations. Despite Morison's sometimes stilted delivery - which calls to mind an academic with no perspective on combat - one must remember that Morison actually did experience most of the events he recounts, from the Battle of the Atlantic to the kamikazes in the last desperate battles in the Pacific. ...more
Kevin Trainor
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you can't afford to splash out on the full sixteen-volume History of United States Navy Operations In World War II, this is the next best thing. Renowned as a historian even before he undertook that massive work, Morison does an excellent job condensing all sixteen volumes into one compact book that hits all the high (and low) points of the Navy's progress to victory in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans against the Axis powers. ...more
Apr 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read this in 5th grade for the first time, and have been hooked on military history ever since... it's in depth yet brief overviews of every major naval battle/campaign of WWII give an excellent introduction to the subject.

Someday, when I grow up, I'm gonna get Morison's 13 volume official U.S. Navy history.
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history, ww2
A truly fine book for what it offers by way of a "Short History" of the U.S. Navy in WWII. It's a wonderful alternative for those of us who, for whatever reason, won't read the author's 15-volume treatment of the subject. I was surprised at how readable and enjoyable this single volume was. Morrison wrote like the scholar, historian, and eye-witness participant that he was. ...more
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent, if dated, history of the U.S. Navy in World War II. Since Morison was present for many of the battles he describes, the book reads like an adventure novel at times. While there are newer and more thorough histories on this topic available, "The Two-Ocean War" is an enduring and engaging piece of historical writing. ...more
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Samuel Eliot Morison, son of John H. and Emily Marshall (Eliot) Morison, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 9 July 1887. He attended Noble’s School at Boston, and St. Paul’s at Concord, New Hampshire, before entering Harvard University, from which he was graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1908. He studied at the Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques, Paris, France, in 1908-1909, and retu ...more

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