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Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign 1941-1945
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Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign 1941-1945

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  2,128 Ratings  ·  127 Reviews
Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign 1941-1945
Paperback, 432 pages
Published November 6th 2007 by Simon & Schuster (first published November 1st 2006)
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Sea of Thunder covers the pivotal World War II Battle of Leyte Gulf--the last of the 'classic' Nelson-style naval contests. It is of particular interest because it tells the story from both the American and the Japanese points of view, but also because it highlights the reasons why this style of naval battle was essentially replaced by aircraft carrier and seaborne missile strategies.

I had no idea how poor our radar capabilities were--the British were way ahead, but somehow that technology did
Jul 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well written story of Leyte Gulf campaign from points of view of Admiral Halsey and Commander Evans on the American side and Admiral Kurita and Adm. Ugaki on the Japanese side. Taken from these perspectives, the naval strategies/tactics and battles took on an intense, emotional significance for the reader. The author borught these four men alive, replete with all their emotional and cultural baggage, which played significant role in how they implemented their nations' strategic goals. Author put ...more
My dad gave me this book and told me it was awesome. I didn't think so for the first half to 2/3 of the book. But once I got to the end (where he describes the "last stand of the tin can sailors") I understood why he spent the first part of the book describing the lives and previous battles of the four main commanders (two on the American side and two on the Japanese side). It was amazing to read about the transformation in naval battle that occurred from previous wars to WWII. By WWII ships nev ...more
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent accounting of the Battle for Leyte Gulf. My father served in the Navy during the war and fought and was wounded during this battle. He kept a journal of his years in the Navy, which I now am the guardian of, and it was the one battle that he would kind-of talk about. As I was reading this book, I brought out his journal and read that as well, in particular his "on the spot" accounting of the battle. I am not sure I knew about the "Johnston", but I do now. This book made me shed more th ...more
Mar 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a brief history of the U.S. Navy's desperate position against the Japanese in World War II and its bold operations in the central Pacific which would ultimately lead to a smashing American victory, this book succeeds fabulously. It does an equally excellent job of explaining the insanity of most of the Japanese government and military during the same time period. If you know nothing about the war in the Pacific, this book is a great place to start. And if you need any more convincing that Tru ...more
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent account of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the last major naval engagement in history. Thomas gives you both sides of the story, following four commanders who will engage in the battle. The stories begin well before the battle, 1941 or earlier. You get to know the men who will clash. Admirals Halsey, Kurita and Ugaki ride the big ships and command big forces while Cmdr Evans commands just a destroyer. Unfortunately Evans, awarded the MoH posthumously, does not get much coverage so I took ...more
Amazingly written! Finally, a full account of the naval battles and the war fought in the pacific during World War II. The author shares the stories of four great naval commanders of the time, along with a host of other's who played a part along the way, while explaining not only the strategy, mistakes, and historical facts, but also the lives of these four very different men from two very different cultures.

In the midst of reading through this book, my family watched "Midway" and a couple other
Steven Peterson
Jan 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Evan Thomas' new book, "Sea of Thunder," explores the dynamics of the last great naval battle in the Pacific Theater (and, indeed, in naval history, according to Thomas), the Battle of Leyte Gulf, in October, 1944.

The story, though, begins many years earlier, as the author traces the developing careers of four key actors involved at Leyte Gulf. William Halsey, the great war admiral, was one of these. Another, on the American side, was the much more obscure Ernest Evans, commander of a destroyer
Aug 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: folks that like history
I didn't think this would be my type of book because I am not a person that likes reading battlefield history.
“Sea of Thunder” did engage me and is pretty thorough account based on extensive research in both the United States and Japan that describes the war in the Pacific and anding at Leyte Gulf. It is the story of the battle of Leyte Gulf in the Phillipines.
It was the last great naval confrontation of the 20th century, fought from Oct. 23 to 26, 1944, between the American and Japanese Navies
Frank Lilly
While not "historical fiction", Thomas highlights the reasons behind the facts. This make the book more interesting. I think he has done a good job of tying together the stories of many people, focusing on the admirals who made the decisions.

I'm sure there may be other opinions as to how this battle went, but it seems well documented and would be worthwhile for anyone interested in going into the navy to read.

Ultimately he does a great job of explaining the pointlessness of war. It also is a goo
Jul 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever since I started my Model Warship Combat hobby, I've been more and more interested in the Pacific campaign of WWII.
Evan Thomas takes the effort to research and explain the motivations and thoughts of the commanders that led both the US and Japanese Navy. I feel like I have a much better understanding of the thoughts that went into the strategies and the battles that I'd read so much about.
He does a very good job showing that the people who fought in the war were really people, and how the
Michael Gerald
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought a hardcover copy of "Sea of Thunder" in my home city of Quezon in the Philippines for just the equivalent of 4 dollars, and it is an excellent read. I am a Filipino, so it was amazing to read of these great battles that happened in Philippine waters.

Arguably the greatest sea battles in history, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Battle of Surigao Strait, the Battle of Sibuyan Sea, and the Battle of the Philippine Sea effectively ended the Japanese Navy's offensive capability. It was thrillin
Jun 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was interesting for me because 2 of the 4 commanders were Japanese. I have never read much of the Pacific war history from the enemy's side.
The main American commander of the book is William "Bull" Halsey. The navy PR function turned Halsey into a public hero early in the war to boost civilian morale, and then lived to regret it when he turned out to be something of a blundering fool. Having made Halsey a big public hero they couldn't get rid of him.
The other U.S. commander of the book, ho
Ron Denton
Good detail on the various commanders and participants, but very little on the actual battle. Clearly not a military history writer, but does a fair job of trying to be. Needed a better editor as the flow of critical moments of engagement are broken to intersperse little minor details about the people. Thought the book would never end.
For a much better read of this last major surface battle, try "Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors" by James Hornfischer, then if you want to know all the details of
TheIron Paw
A well done history of the battle of Leyte Gulf done from an interesting perspective: the author follows four commanders (2 each Japanese and American) through events leading up to the battle. Thomas compares their cultures and beliefs and how they structured the outcome of the battle. While 3 of the lead characters are admirals, one seems out of place as a captain of a destroyer and does not really fit in to the author's main explorations (although the actions of the destroyer are quite fascina ...more
Aaron Meyer
Nov 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, ww-2
An interesting history of four commanders (2 US and 2 Japan) who have a collision course with history at the battle of Leyte Gulf. Follows their life from the beginning of the Pacific War to the climatic battle at Leyte Gulf and quickly wraps up the story with the end of the war with Japan. I enjoyed the brief accounts of the lives of the commanders after the war, those who lived, though it seemed to me that their existence after the war, to a degree, was a sad one. Overall it was a quick read a ...more
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Engrossing read, with especial interest about the Halsey and Kurita histories. I do wish that it had been possible for Thomas to delve more deeply into the lives of Ugaki and Kurita, who are far more interesting than Halsey or MacArthur (and may I say that no one I am reading in this field has much good to say about MacArthur) --- it would have been nice to get a lot more about Spruance. All in all, though, a good read.
Yong Lee
Bravery and dedication to duty and country transcends cultures; unfortunately so does sycophants and boot licks. A good book about an epic battle at sea. We are all flawed human beings, but in the end good triumphed over evil.
Jun 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very readable history of the Sea War in the Pacific. One of the Commanders featured is Elizabeth;s own Admiral William "Bull' Halsey,
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book profiles four World War II naval commanders: Japanese Admirals Takeo Kurita and Matome Ugaki, American Admiral William "Bull" Halsey, and Commander Ernest Evans, who played key roles in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944. Admiral Kurita commanded the Central Force, composed of battleships, cruisers, and destroyers, which sailed through San Bernandino Strait to attack the American transport ships landing troops in the initial invasion of the Phillipines, the escort carriers of the ...more
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another interesting look at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, but this time the author concentrates on four men who took part, two Americans and two Japanese. The two Japanese are Admirals Kurita and Ugaki who served with Center Striking Force as force commander and as commander of the Battleship Division respectively. The author talks about their backgrounds and philosophies, which varied quite a bit. Ugaki seemed to be more of a die-hard fatalist who advocated the 'Decisive Victory' doctrine while Kur ...more
Kenneth Barber
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book follows all the different naval actions that comprised the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The author relies on naval records from American and Japanese archives. The author also utilizes memoirs of officers and regular sailors. The author developed the characters of the officers on both sides of the conflict. The reader feels that he knows the principle characters.
Each action is discussed in detail , but in such a fashion that the lay reader can understand. He delves into the actions of "Bull"
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great history of the Pacific.
Lisa Borges
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked how he used the four leaders to tell the story, very clever.
Michael Romo
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Evan Thomas provides us great insight in the military mind of WWII, especially that of the Japanese. A thoughtful and important book for anyone with an interest in naval history.
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ready-one
Fantastic book.
Oct 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
A Review by Colin J. Edwards

One might be forgiven for thinking that everything that can be said about World War II, has already been said. That is probably right; but it is not what is said, but how it is said. In Sea of Thunder, Evan Thomas brings a balanced appraisal of the leading personalities involved in the Battle of Leyte Gulf at the close of World War II – warts and all.

Readers of military history fall into two camps. One consists of those who thirst for knowledge and comparison of diffe
Aug 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
October 25th is the date of three important battles. In 1415, an outnumbered British army defeated the French at Agincourt. Henry V led his troops to victory. In 1854, the Russians defeated the British at Balaclava. Miscommunication and blunder abounded within the British high-command, culminating in the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade. In 1944, the Japanese and American navies fought the Battle of Leyte Gulf. What could have been a overwhelming victory by the Americans was instead a day ...more
Dec 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Excellent account of naval war in the Pacific with the focus on the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The Battle of Midway gets the most attention in historical accounts as the turning point in the war, the Leyte battle, in October 1944 in association with MacArthur's invasion of the Philippines, stands out as some sort of apotheosis of the whole Pacific War. As the largest naval battle in history, involving 300 ships on both sides and nearly 200,000 men, it represented a fulfillment of the ambition of lead ...more
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Evan Thomas has been assistant managing editor at Newsweek since 1991. He is the magazine’s lead writer on major news stories and the author of many longer features, including Newsweek’s special behind-the-scenes issues on presidential elections and more than a hundred cover stories. Thomas was pivotal in spearheading Newsweek’s award-winning coverage on the war on terror from the Washington burea ...more
More about Evan Thomas...