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Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle
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Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle

4.3  ·  Rating details ·  849 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
The battle at Guadalcanal--which began eight months to the day after Pearl Harbor--marked the first American offensive of World War II. It was a brutal six-month campaign that cost the lives of some 7,000 Americans and over 30,000 Japanese.This volume, ten years in the writing, recounts the full story of the critical campaign for Guadalcanal and is based on first-time tran ...more
Paperback, 800 pages
Published January 1st 1992 by Penguin Books (first published 1990)
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Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Frank wrote the Definitive account of the battle.
What many contemporary readers don't realize is that
the campaign included some of the largest ship to ship battles in history. Unbelievable heroism. I gave this to my uncle who was a participant and he recalled watching the ship battles at night off the coast in iron bottom sound. This book is one of the best executed history books ever written.
Aug 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sorry for using this tired phrase, but in this case it is completely justified - if you are to read a single book about Guadalcanal campaign, then this is the book you want to read. It is very detailed, comprehensive and yet readable account of a World War II campaign that was as decisive as it was unique. There are many reasons why I think this is superior choice on this topic - Frank covers all aspects of the campaign - land, sea and air. Just that fact alone makes it a rarity. Also, the book ...more
Roger Burk
Sep 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Like the dust jacket says, this is the definitive history of the Guadalcanal campaign, from the bold and even foolhardy American seizure of an airfield at the tip of Japanese expansion in the southwest Pacific to the brilliantly planned and executed Japanese withdrawal of their last skeletal survivors six months later. The campaign is an epic of hardship, determination, and perseverence in American military history, but how much greater were the hardship, suffering, and perseverence of the Japan ...more
Hank Hoeft
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When my wife saw that I was reading an 800-page book on the battle of Guadalcanal, she asked me if it was really all about just one battle, or if it digressed and covered a wider scope. I told her that yes, it did indeed focus on "just one battle," but that "battle" was actually a six-month campaign. Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle really does live up to its subtitle. The detail Richard Frank goes into is deep and extensive, and exhaustively researched. I've read a lot ...more
e.West Smith
Feb 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
An amazing piece of scholarship on what was America's first counter-thrust against the Empire of Japan. Exhaustively researched, Mr. Frank's account of the conflict in late 1942 highlighted the hubris of the IJN and IJA as they first dismissed, then underestimated and finally reacted too late. Great read for aficionados of the Pacific War.
Jan 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are into numbers and detail
This book contains tons of detail. If you are into detail this is the book for you. But, for me, the book almost devolves into minutiae. I checked this book out of the library for three weeks, then renewed it for another three weeks. The reason I checked it out is that I am researching Guadalcanal to try and gain a better understanding of what it was like for my father who fought on Guadalcanal as an enlisted man with the 25th ID. The book gave me some detail and if you want to know how the batt ...more
May 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Tom Clancy said of Frank's book that it will surely become the standard history of the U.S. Navy's most important campaign. After having read it, I tend to agree with him, although I'd be tempted to add that is was perhaps one of America's armed forces most important campaign ever, arguably the true turning point of the Pacific war.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone wishing to acquire an articulate, well researched view of the campaign. Frank digs deep into American and Japanese sources
Feb 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of scholarly military history
This is perhaps the best campaign history I have ever read. It is the equal of the best Civil War campaign histories by Catton and Stephen Sears, which for me are the best researched and literary books available on specific American military campaigns. Frank does a superb job of establishing the background that resulted in thousands of men fighting over this obscure little island in the South Pacific. He then does an equally fine job of detailing the various maneuvers of the Japanese and America ...more
Urey Patrick
This is a "must" read for anyone interested in the War in the Pacific - the opening chapter dealing with the strategies and influences affecting Japan and the US leading up to the war, and the closing chapter reflecting on the Guadalcanal campaign alone make it worthwhile. Guadalcanal was one of the most significant events of WW II - in the space of eight months following Pearl Harbor, the US bombed Tokyo - fought Coral Sea and reversed Japanese expansion - fought Midway and changed the course o ...more
Eric Smith
Jul 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
It took me a little less than four years to finish this book. Why? Because it is so detailed, a step-by-step trip through a nightmare campaign during world war 2. The author tracks every ship and every regiment - almost every company - as they slog it out in a bloodbath of horror called the Guadalcanal Campaign. The book vibrates with definitive reporting, tables, maps, and reporting of facts. It also makes clear the brutal and genocidal nature of the fighting in the Pacific. I had a hard time g ...more
Mar 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
In the summer of 1942, the US had been defeated at almost every turn by the Japanese. With the Germany first strategy, it was no sure thing that america's limited resources could defeat the Japanese who had run rampant. The Japanese had no yet been defeated on land. This book is an excellent account of the battle on land and sea that raged from August 1942 through early 1943. The Japanese fought capably and fanatically and it was a near thing but the americans also fought well and eventually wer ...more
Jul 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-war-ii
I read this, breaking into my books to read because I am staying away from reading When the Magisterium Intervenes, and because I started to read FRank'sDownfall (which led me to other books on the end of WWII in the Pacific, more about which later) which led me to read this book on Guadalcanal because Franks is really a very good researcher.

I am old enough to barely remember this battle, the long, brutal turning point of the Pacific War.

I now read about the events, not as heroism, although hero
Sarah Crawford
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
As the book says, this is pretty much a "definitive" type of account, meaning it is full of details, maps and photos. The book, for example, has 105 pages alone of notes on the material in the main text. Basically, anything you wanted to know about the battle is probably in this book. It's not a type of book for a casual read, of course, and it would mainly interested those interested in the in-depth history of the Pacific war.
Joe Owen
Mar 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
IN-Depth history of the Battle of Guadalcanal from the US and Japanese strategy and warfare. The land, sea, and air battles are analyzed and reviewed. This is not for the beginner who doesn't know anything about the battle. It is for those who are familiar about the history and want to learn about the battle in-depth.
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Very detailed chronological account of the land, sea, and air campaign with both Allied and Japanese viewpoints. Maps included but there could have been more (I love maps). Author points out where there are still questions about what exactly happened in certain events and will state what is purely speculation. The writing style is easy to read, not written like a "stuffed shirt historian".
Matthew Phelps
Dec 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military-pme
The definitive account by far. Not a light undertaking, but it's definitely for you if you want in-depth analysis and play-by-play accounts drawn from original documents on both the American and Japanese sides.
May 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Frank's book is easily the single best volume on the Guadalcanal campaign, weaving together the holy trinity of air, naval and land to provide a complete and extremely well-written and detailed account. Essential for anyone interested in World War II in the Pacific.
Gary Phillips
Oct 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The epitome of a campaign study. Meticulously researched, thoughtful, detailed yet accessible to a general audience.
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite campaign histories along with Utmost Savagery. I wish Frank was a more prolific author.
Christopher Dell
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I want to give it a two because it was a chore to read, however, due to the exhaustive research and the detail it is a 5. "Definitive" is an understatement.
Jan 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Excellent and comprehensive history of the grueling conflict in this remote tropical jungle island. I doubt any survivor of the campaign came out of it whole.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a truly fascinating account of the Guadalcanal campaign, and will surely be the definitive account for many years to come. It's easy to see the massive amount of research the author did for this book, and it certainly paid off. I always felt the battle of Midway was the turning point for the war in the Pacific, but the author makes a very compelling case for Guadalcanal being the true turning point, perhaps along with the New Guinea campaign that was happening simultaneously.

Mike O'Brien
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Other than the maps, which I wanted more of the explain the land and naval battles a little more clearly, this is a feast of words that covers the land, sea, and air battles of this significant campaign in the WWII Pacific theater. There is so much going on here that it's a little overwhelming. I am amazed at the level of research Mr. Frank achieved. It's also very engaging. This is not a dry tome.
I highly recommend this book.
Mike Hanford
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
No question that for a serious student of this battle this is THE book. Takes some perseverence as it is very detailed. As the author admits ... few first person accounts or insights. The single complaint is a need for more / better maps. For those reading it ... keep your internet mobile device close-at-hand for ship and aircraft types and histories. Even with internet access good or detailed maps VERY hard to find
Rolf Kirby
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable work of history. The author weaves together everything from the debates of generals and admirals to accounts of individual fighting men. The narrative covers in detail the fighting on air land and sea on and around the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomons. Reading this book gives one a sense of how close run the battle for both sides. Highly recommended.
Bill Lenoir
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazingly good narrative and analysis of the Solomon's Campaign. This is THE book to read on the subject. All military histories should be so well researched and written.
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of all time. The definitive way every author should write about a campaign. Engaging in every level.
Christopher Rapert
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book.

I think it is the best Guadalcanal book there is, period.
Joe McKay
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Perhaps the definitive account of the battle. Mr. Frank's precision attention to detail and his ability to place the detail into the overall scope and context of the battle are exemplary. He uses the bright hues of praise and the more somber colors of rebuke to present an objective view of both sides. What I learned from the read: First, the battles of Midway and Guadalcanal are the articulated engines which supplied the force that stopped Japanese expansion in the Pacific. Never again will I s ...more
Bill V
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best book I've read on the Guadalcanal campaign. Every military aspect (air, naval and ground) is touched upon and gets its appropriate coverage.
There are maps but they don't cover every point mentioned in the text. A map index would have been nice. There are a few misspelling of names. These are superficial blemishes on a book that belongs on every history buff's collection.
Richard Frank writes in a very engaging style. One minor criticism is that while there are a few maps, there
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