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Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  2,172 ratings  ·  182 reviews
Many consider the Battle of Midway to have turned the tide of the Pacific War. It is without question one of the most famous battles in history. Now, for the first time since Gordon W. Prange’s bestselling Miracle at Midway, Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully offer a new interpretation of this great naval engagement. Unlike previous accounts, Shattered Sword makes ...more
Hardcover, 612 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Potomac Books
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Matt
Mar 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
“The conditions in [the Japanese aircraft carrier] Kaga’s hangars immediately after the bombing were horrific beyond description. Bodies and pieces of bodies of Kaga’s armorers and mechanics lay strewn everywhere among the wreckage of her aircraft. In the open air, a 1,000-pound general purpose bomb has a 50 percent chance of killing anyone standing within a thirty-foot radius of the blast center. Inside the confines of the hangar deck, these lethal effects were greatly magnified…Mechanics, ...more
Sweetwilliam
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I always thought that a stroke of good fortune was the reason for the United States Navy’s victory over at Midway. Others may say it was divine providence. The authors of Shattered Sword do not see it this way. They break down the Japanese Naval war machine step by step, and weigh each factor that contributed to their demise; chief of which was the IJN’s belief that quality was more important than quantity. The result was that Yamamoto divided his forces by sending two carriers to the Aleutians ...more
Bou
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Parshall and Tully deal with some of the fallacious ideas around the Battle of Midway. These are either untrue, or at least require careful clarification. Some of these ideas have been implanted in the Western accounts as a result of misunderstandings of the records of the battle. Some have resulted from a faulty understanding of the basic mechanics of how the battle was fought. Some are misrepresentations of the truth that were deliberately introduced by participants in the battle. And each has ...more
Sumit
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A full five star, Often we hear that History being written by Victor and get shrouded in myths. However Battle at Midway was one of rare event where both victor and loser painted a image which served there purposes in specific circumstances well. America was able to portray it's Navy as real life example of David vs Goliath while Japan was trying to scrape up some shreds of respect by trying to hide its own follies under the guise of tough luck.

Several reasons can be cited for the outcome which
...more
Matt
Shattered Sword is a fine naval history book. It is a well researched book that has a multitude of facts on every page. This is a book that will be an often quoted source for many years about the Battle of Midway. The authors claim to change the way the battle will be viewed, in that the book focuses on the Kido Butai or the Japanese carrier fleet this claim can be accepted as true. The author meticulously researched the minutiae of where the Japanese aircraft were during the battle and who ...more
Chad Sayban
Sep 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
More reviews at The Story Within The Story

When most people hear the term ‘history book,’ they typically think of those watered-down texts we all read in high school where large swaths of time are melted down into paragraph-sized blubs to be memorized for a test and quickly forgotten. Even so, many of us – myself included – have become infatuated with history and long after leaving the public education system behind seek out books that provide a detailed look into a our past. These focused books
...more
Matt
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
You think you know something, and then you discover that in fact most of what you know is wrong.

I love reading.

This is masterful treatment of probably one of the most analyzed battles of all time, which by examining closely the Japanese sources of the battle revises much of what we think we know about the battle. In particular, the author's patient explanation of the exact operational details of Japanese carrier operations is endlessly fascinating and enlightening, and serve to show that much
...more
Jimmy
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Want to read one of the best book on the Battle of Midway? I remember as a young kid reading about this battle and how it turned the tide of the war in Pacific in favor of the United States in which Japan suffered serious loss in this battle. This work simply exceeded my expectation and I was thoroughly hooked from page to page, which might sound almost unbelievable concerning a military operational book but the two authors did a good job telling us the story of the Battle of Midway and ...more
Steven Peterson
Apr 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is functionally written and provides considerable detail on the Battle of Midway, with much new information being used. One useful feature of the book is that we see a lot more of the battle and the runup to it from the eyes of the Japanese. We leartn of how Japanese and American carrier doctrine, operational ideas, even use space differed between the two carrier forces. As such, we get a different perspective than is common. The author also analyzes many of the decisions by Japanese ...more
Andy
Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing


Recently read the new Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History) by Craig L. Symonds. A nice summary, which brought up a few points I'd either forgotten or never learned. It did extensively reference Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway and hinted at a the Imperial Japanese Navy point of view. I had to track down this book.

Shattered Sword goes back to air operations logs and is the first English publication that sources the updated Japanese accounts published

...more
Yong Lee
Dec 15, 2015 rated it liked it
I started and stopped reading this book five times. The fact I tried it the sixth time is due to its reputation among military historians. This is not an academic history but a book by passionate amateurs. Their love for the subject matter is clear and their expertise is clear. This book will teach you more about the battle of midway than you would ever like to know. I'm glad I finally finished it.
Chad
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
While it is not written with the classical prose of a Walter Lord or a Bruce Catton, the authors have produced the greatest battle analysis I have ever read. This book instantly became one of my all time favorites!
Sonny
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, world-war-ii
Numerous books have been written about the battle of Midway. And why not? Midway was a pivotal naval battle that took place only six months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The United States Navy under Admirals Nimitz, Fletcher, and Spruance decisively defeated an attacking fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Battle of Midway has often been called "the turning point of the Pacific". It was the Allies' first major naval victory against the Japanese, won despite the Japanese Navy having ...more
David Runyon
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, detailed, and balanced history of the critical Battle of Midway.
Phrodrick
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
You do not know the Battle of Midway if you have not read Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully’s Shattered Sword, the Untold Story of the Battle of Midway. While it can be a tough read for the casual reader of history, scholars, history buffs and anyone who enjoyed the otherwise uneven Movie called Midway have cause to celebrate Shattered Sword. Highly recommended. My copy was the paperback so I missed the problems shared by the Kindle readers.

Common wisdom is that history is written by the
...more
Roger Burk
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is indeed the untold story: it is entirely from the Japanese point of view. The authors have made a new and thorough analysis of the Japanese sources, rejecting some that were translated early and set American understanding of the battle. Americans interested in the Battle of Midway will find many new details and insights here, and it is well enough written to be pleasurable to read.

However, the authors claim too much. They think they have completely overturned our understanding of the
...more
Andy Lawless
Excellent book from the Japanese side
Jared
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book, worth every bit of five stars. The authors cover the Battle of Midway nearly exhaustively from the Japanese perspective. They consider and analyze previous works on the subject and explain common misconceptions about the Battle, giving a full view to those who may have little to no experience with the history of the Battle of Midway.

The Japanese made many huge mistakes in the Pacific War. Their first big mistake was starting the war. The economic might of the US was going to
...more
Matt Caris
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A phenomenal revisionist work that adds what has always been missing to the stories of Midway - a detailed account of how the IJN and especially the Kido Butai operated, right down to the deckplate level.

Armed with this information, Parshall and Tully rip many of the famous Midway myths to shreds, to show how the battle truly unfolded. The authors are able to show that so many of the Midway "what-if" moments - a more extensive search plane operation, division of labor for CAP vs strike between
...more
C. Patrick
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was an impressive work by the two authors. It is revisionist history, and arguably needed to clarify the conventional wisdom that has long surrounded this battle. While American historians have long had thorough access to US source material, the reach of US scholarship into the Japanese source documentation has probably been inhibited by numerous factors, not only language barriers, but more than anything a tacit acceptance of accounts from key Japanese participants that didn't receive ...more
Bob
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war
An extremely detailed look at the inner workings of the Japanese military strategic thinking processes during WW-II. Interesting that many of their problems came from mutual distrust between the Japanese army and navy, also that the highest reaches of the military hierarchy had an ineffective checks and balances procedure.

I was surprised to learn that Pearl Harbor was Yamamoto's idea, and he had enough clout to get it through despite the urgent protest of most of the other high ranking military
...more
Josh Liller
Feb 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-war-2, military
The authors set out to bust myths about the Battle of Midway while providing a very in-depth account of the Japanese side of the battle, which hasn't been properly done before. They provide a huge amount of information but deliver it with style and a very amusing snarky attitude. This is military history at its finest.
Lee
Dec 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
On my third time through, to see what I can pick up.

The level of detail is amazing.
Mac McCormick III
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military, history
A few years ago, I read Craig L. Symond's The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History) and saw Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway: The Japanese Story of the Battle of Midway by Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully referenced in it. I took a look at the book on Amazon and it had a plain simple cover, giving it the feeling of an academic work, so I added it to my reading list but didn't put it very high on the list. Recently, I finally got around to reading it.

...more
M.
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Someone with a few Midway books in their reading history.
Recommended to M. by: AskHistorians
Having just finished War and Remembrance and discovered that there's a new movie about the Battle of Midway scheduled for U.S. release in 2019, I figured I'd have a look at a nonfiction book on the subject.

Shattered Sword is highly regarded and is in many respects excellent, but it was my first book on Midway, and I cannot recommend it as a first book on Midway. There are so many asides intended to correct the historical record that the story never gets a chance to breathe. The book reads like
...more
Frederick
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is by far the best account of a battle I have ever read. The author uses minute, detailed information to piece together what actually happened. He compares conflicting accounts. He studied Japanese Navy doctrine. He examined the technology closely. How long an elevator took to raise an airplane to a Japanese carrier flight deck and how long it took to change from carrying a torpedo to carrying a bomb even with the type of fasteners used is part of his detail. This was a battle where success ...more
Rolf Kirby
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had a great deal of trouble putting this book down. The authors masterfully weave together an account of the Battle of Midway that draws extensively from primary Japanese sources. In debunking a lot of the myths that have grown up around the battle, they in no way subtract from the gripping story and rather leave the reader with a much deeper knowledge of it all. A lot of human stories are included, from the Zero pilots who destroy the uncoordinated US attacks one after the other, to that of ...more
Casey Kahsen
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An unparalleled look at the battle of midway. As others have stated, this work centers largely on previously untapped Japanese sources. The authors look closely at every detail of the battle, and systematically debunk many of the popular myths surrounding the battle that have dominated western literature for the last 50 years. I do not claim to be an expert on midway, as this is only my 3rd dedicated work on the topic, however, these authors provide numerous sources and have allowed me to add ...more
Maria
Battles by definition are two sided, and Parshall and Tully examine in detail and in context sources and technical limitations of both the American forces and the Japanese Navy that fought at the Battle of Midway. Their work draws on Japanese primary sources and secondary sources that have corrected the many errors of Mitsuo Fuchida’s Midway: The Battle That Doomed Japan. (This was one of the main translated Japanese sources and was main basis for almost 50 years of American scholarship.)

Why I
...more
Ezeozue Chidube
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a dense but sometimes vivid retelling of an important world war 2 naval battle. When the authors describe the heated moments, you can feel your breath bate alongside the sailors on a detected submarine and smell the fuels on an aircraft carrier. As someone previously unfamiliar with the battle of midway, I learned a ton.

On the other hand, the authors sometimes delve into pretty detailed and, IMO, sometimes irrelevant details of the battle. This was almost written as a chronicle in the
...more
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excellent focus on Battle of Midway 1 8 Sep 24, 2014 06:32PM  

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