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The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944-1945

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  1,621 ratings  ·  220 reviews
Timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, an unprecedented account of the monumental Pacific War campaign that brought the U.S. Navy to the apex of its power and supremacy and established the foundation for America as the dominant global superpower, from the New York Times bestselling author cited as "doing for the Navy what Stephen Ambrose ...more
Hardcover, 602 pages
Published October 25th 2016 by Bantam
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Kerr Smith Hornfischer does an outstanding job of delving into all the complexities of amphibious operations. One of the recurring figures in his book is Draper …moreHornfischer does an outstanding job of delving into all the complexities of amphibious operations. One of the recurring figures in his book is Draper Kauffman who formed the first Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) and predecessors of today's Navy SEAL teams. Hornfischer devotes considerable attention to the heroics of the UDT members whose battle gear included simply a swimsuit and a single knife. So, yes, Hornfischer tells the full story, and a great story it is.(less)
Frank African-Americans were assigned with service companies (supply, cooks, etc.) attached to the regiments and divisions that fought in this campaign. As …moreAfrican-Americans were assigned with service companies (supply, cooks, etc.) attached to the regiments and divisions that fought in this campaign. As our troops did everywhere, they fought hard and bravely. Google the term "Montford Point Marines" for further info on blacks in the US Marine Corps.(less)

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Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“The battle of artillery…was the Saipan campaign’s first critical fight. [Admiral Richmond] Kelly Turner was coming to a fuller realization of something that had bothered him since Tarawa: that saturation naval bombardment was futile, squandering both time and ordinance. He would compare the effort to destroy his well-entrenched enemy with general area fire to the prolonged artillery bombardments of the Great War. ‘Beyond a certain point, both became ineffective and wasteful,’ he would write. Al ...more
This is an excellent narrative account of the second half of the war in the Pacific, from 1944 to the end. Its military focus is balanced by the human side of things with character portraits of a select set of participants, including certain Japanese soldiers and civilians. The major topic is the fighting for the Marianas islands (Saipan, Guam, and Tinian) and the bombings of Japan made possible by those victories, the horrific firebombing of major cities and the culmination in the nuclear attac ...more
Tom Mathews
Full disclosure: James D. Hornfischer’s first book, The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour is my all-time favorite book about World War II or any war fought at sea. His thrilling narrative focuses on a small yet vital engagement of the Battle of Leyte Gulf and spins a story that makes the defense of the Alamo look tepid in comparison. But being able to tell the story of a battle does not automatically qualify one to tell the sto ...more
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In looking at the final year of World War II in the Pacific, Mr Hornfischer has written a superb account of the Marianas campaign and the ensuing bombing campaign that was launched from those islands, including the dropping the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and finally the early occupation of the Japanese homeland. In telling the story, the author focuses his story on the commander of the US Fifth Fleet, Raymond Spruance and the man who dropped the Bomb on Hiroshima – Paul Tibbets.

In loo
Michael Jandrok
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James D. Hornfischer’s “The Fleet at Flood Tide,” subtitled “America at Total War in the Pacific 1944-1945," is quite possibly the best naval history that I have ever read, and is an immense contribution to the history of the latter stages to the endgame of the Pacific War in World War II. It’s a vastly enlightening book that takes the reader directly inside the command decisions and the battle lines that shaped some of the most momentous events ever undertaken during wartime. 503 pages of text ...more
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had been waiting for the release of the Fleet at Flood Tide with great anticipation and this book did not disappoint. This is the fourth book I have read by this author and like the others, the Fleet at Flood Tide deserves each of the five stars that I have awarded it.

In his previous three books, James Hornfischer established that he has his finger on the pulse of Naval campaigns in the Pacific during WWII. In the Fleet at Flood Tide, Hornfischer demonstrates equal skill in describing the lan
Peter Tillman
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, history
An excellent war-history book, if depressing at times. The American conquest of Saipan, and the ensuing mass-suicides of Japanese civilians -- well, I had to put the book down for awhile after that chapter. The Japanese were a formidable enemy, and the militarists who took over Japan, and made it into an empire were, well, "remarkable". A long national nightmare, that collapsed quickly after their surrender. Boy, am I glad I didn't have to fight in that war, or any other.

The author has a very hi
Hornfischer’s new book “The Fleet at Flood Tide” is about the U. S. invasion of Saipan. The author details the fighting on shore, which he states inaugurated a new level of violence in the Pacific War. He discusses the ritual suicides of the Japanese garrison and the civilians.

Hornfischer states that the invasion of the Marianas was the critical moment in the Pacific Theatre. It marked the penetration of Japan’s inner ring of defenses, it also triggered the first full-scale fleet engagement sinc
Sometime between "Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors" and this book, Hornfischer morphed from a decent, but hardly exceptional author, to a masterful one, capped by in-depth research. And he's describing battles that I've not only read about but visited the (land) battlefields.

This book is split into three parts: Sea, Land and Air. The first section relates the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot", the carrier battle that destroyed Japan's carrier air arm (though sinking only two carriers). Despite bei
Jul 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I have long been a student of US and US military history. Having had two now deceased uncles who both served in the European Theater and several familyfriends and parishioners who served in both the European and Pacific Theaters, books about the Second World War have always interested me.

When I saw James Hornfischer’s book, The Fleet at Flood Tide (TBP 2016 by Bantam) was available for request and review, I requested it thinking that it would be another great book on the exploits of the American
David Eppenstein
I really enjoy reading history but I have to admit that the history of WWII is probably my least favorite subject area. I think the reasons for this are that this war was too clearly defined in terms of good guys and bad guys and it was too thoroughly documented and recorded. Of course let's not forget the History Channel doing this war to death with exposure. It would appear to me that any author wishing to write anything about this war must first possess the talent of restraint, knowing what t ...more
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of military history
Recommended to Thomas by: NetGalley
Shelves: military, netgalley
This is a magisterial view of the US Navy in the Pacific from 1944 to 1945. The author points out that were it not for the capture of Saipan, Tinian and Guam, the war would have gone on beyond 1945 with hundreds of thousands more lives, both US and Japanese, lost. The planes that dropped the atomic bombs on Japan took off from Tinian. The author gives a blow by blow account of the invasion of these three islands and of the naval strategy that led to the end of the war. He says that this book is ...more
Mike Kershaw
This is another edition in Hornfischer's telling of the American War in the Pacific. Beginning with the campaign to take the Marianas, he chooses to focus on Admiral Raymond Spruance, the amphibious duo of General Holland Smith and Admiral Kelly Turner and Colonel Paul Tibbets, the Commander of the mission to drop the Atomic Bomb. Along the way, he further develops the story of the "Fast Carriers" Task Forces which came to dominate the Pacific War, introduces us to the Navy Underwater Demolition ...more
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii, first-reads-etc
I've been a fan of James Hornfischer since reading The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors several years ago. His writing can be a bit dense and often takes me a while to get into it, but it's well worth the effort.

The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944-1945 wasn't quite what I was expecting. Although the dates '1944-1945' in the subtitle made me think it would be a history of the war for those two years (similar to the way Ian Toll's excellent Pacific Crucible chronic
carl  theaker
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2
Author Hornfischer takes on a vast subject, the US Fleet at war in the Western Pacific from June 1944 and deftly rolls with the waves between the strategic and tactical events, land and sea, personalities from the US and Japanese Admirals to the men on the ships, aircraft, and beaches of both sides, as well as Japanese civilians along with native islanders.

To manage this in a mere 500 pages (with helpful maps and photos), he keeps the focus on several threads, while touching on the situation at
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-war-ii
Saturday, August 3, 2019

The Fleet at Flood Tide
by James D. Hornfischer

I found this book to be an excellent history of a certain aspect of the war in the Pacific. Many people have questioned the decision to drop the Atomic Bomb on Japan. This book, for me, answers that question.

There is an early hint in the first chapter that this book involves the Atom Bomb when the author introduces Paul Tibbets who was the pilot of the Enola Gay that dropped the first Atom Bomb on Japan.

Hornfischer begins the
Sherwood Smith
This extraordinarily well-written history of the second half of the war in the Pacific continues on from an earlier book by the same author (which I have in paperback, and will be reading).

This one begins in 1944. It’s off to a slow start as we get caught up on the details of ships, material, training, and leaders among the Americans, and the background lives of some Japanese, both military and civilian.

The mass of information pays off when we get to Spruance’s fleet encountering the Japanese a
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
I have been a big fan of Hornfischer's previous three books on the U.S. Navy in WWII. This one is not up to those standards. First, There is a distinct lack of focus. The title is misleading. The book goes into great detail about the battle for Saipan, and to a lesser degree Tinian and Guam. This covers the summer of 1944 and is over 1/3 of the book. The rest of the book treats the remaining naval operations of the war in a cursory manner.

The author uses Raymond Spruance as a cornerstone, detai
Kathy Heare Watts
I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway and have now passed the book onto my son who is in the military. This book encompasses the final year during World War II and pivotal turning points that helped bring an end to the war.
Mac McCormick III
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
This is a book that may take some readers by surprise, you have to consider the subtitle more than you do the title. Instead of a narrative of the final phase of World War II in the Pacific, it is a book about Total War in the Pacific. Primarily, Hornfischer looks at the Pacific War from the Marianas to the fall of Japan from the perspective of Admiral Raymond Spruance, Admiral Kelly Turner, and Colonel Paul Tibbets (others are included as well, I particularly enjoyed the story of Draper Kauffma ...more
Hornfischer uses primary sources and individual experiences to weave together the vast story of the war in the Pacific starting with the U.S. invasion of the Mariana Islands in June 1941. While the scope of the book is huge, the glimpses into Japanese and American fighting forces helps ground the action in reality, detail and humanity.

Why I started this book: I was thrilled that Hornfischer was writing another book. I had enjoyed his other books The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraor
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A solid and exquisitely-written popular history of the Second World War in the Pacific, with the emphasis on naval operations. And yet, much print is devoted to the land and aerial campaigns against the Japanese, highlighting the combined nature of operations in modern warfare. Most of the book is allocated to the invasion and conquest of the Marianas, including the "Marianas Turkey Shoot," along with the development and use of those islands as the major center for bases from which the bombing c ...more
Edgar Raines
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written, well researched book, particularly using U.S. Marine Corps and Navy records. It is the story of the landings in Saipan, Tinian, and Guam in 1944 and the consequences that flowed from these victories. The book has two major protagonists, Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, commander of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, and Col. Paul Tibbets, commander of the 509th Composite Bomb Group, which based on Tinian dropped the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The disparity in rank ...more
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
America’s Path to Being a Superpower …

This book was reviewed as part of Amazon's Vine program which included a free copy of the book.

My interest in World War II started at age 11 and it is still going strong 39 years later, because of books like this. James Hornfischer’s THE FLEET at FLOOD TIDE takes a unique approach in presenting the US victory over Japan and details the rationale behind the decision to use the atomic bomb.
What makes this book unique is that the author opted to take a more “
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Say what his detractors will, James Hornfisher can write page turning history. The Fleet at Flood Tide is hardly an exhaustive study of the entire Navy /Marine Corps effort in 1944-1955 but it is very interesting and at times exciting reading. Many specialists will have exhausted the minutia of this period and find little new in his recitation of events. Indeed much is missing. Beyond the many island invasions and destroyer engagements he skips, Hornfischer has no problem taking definite sides a ...more
Just finished reading “The Fleet at Flood Tide,” a superlative account of the final year and a half of the war in the Pacific, by James D. Hornfischer; author of “Neptune’s Inferno” on the Guadalcanal Campaign, and “Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors” on the Battle of Cape Samar.

In addition to Hornfischer’s ongoing portrait of Admiral Spruance as America’s “indispensable” Fleet Commander, this dramatic tale of the Pacific War incorporates the story of Draper Kauffman, an admiral’s son, who upon
Halina Repp
Dec 28, 2016 rated it liked it
The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944-1945 The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944-1945 by James D. Hornfischer

I found the book tedious at times, too much attention paid to the official designation of military units; e.g. 2nd platoon, company 3, 4th battalion, 1st regiment, 2nd division . . . and so on. Those passages demonstrated the author's scholarship but might be uninteresting to anyone other than a military historian. When the author gets into the recorded conversations of participants, at both the co
Joe A
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James D. Hornfischer has become one of my favorite historians. His focus has been on the Pacific theater in WWII. This is the third book of his that I have read. The first two; The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors & Neptune’s Inferno, were both excellent – this was his best. The focus was the last year of the war and what can only be described as the seemingly unavoidable path to the use of the bomb over Hiroshima. As the final year progressed the “death cult” of the Japanese military (devastat ...more
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
good discussion concerning the training for the delivery of the A bombs over Japan in 1945; plus the recovery of Japan after thewar.
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military
The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific 1944-1945 (2016) is James Hornfischer’s fourth book on the Pacific War. His 2004 book The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors was quite a treat, and this book continues the tradition.

Hornfischer’s oeuvre is the well-travelled story of the Navy and its ground arm, the Marine Corps, as they marched (well, sailed and slogged) from the battles on the Solomon Islands (Guadalcanal) north of Papua New Guinea to the Caroline Islands (Palau, Pel
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Hornfischer’s writing career has grown out of a lifelong interest in the Pacific war. He has appeared on television on The History Channel, Fox News Channel’s “War Stories with Oliver North” and C-SPAN’s “BookTV.” A frequent speaker on the subject of the war in the Pacific, the U.S. Navy, and the experience of America’s sailors in World War II, he frequently addresses veterans organizations, youth ...more

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