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  • The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History)

  • By: Craig L. Symonds
  • Narrated by: James Lurie
  • Length: 14 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (203 ratings)

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Summary

There are few moments in American history in which the course of events tipped so suddenly and so dramatically as at the Battle of Midway. At dawn of June 4, 1942, a rampaging Japanese navy ruled the Pacific. By sunset, their vaunted carrier force (the Kido Butai) had been sunk, and their grip on the Pacific had been loosened forever.

In this absolutely riveting account of a key moment in the history of World War II, one of America's leading naval historians, Craig L. Symonds, paints an unforgettable portrait of ingenuity, courage, and sacrifice. Symonds begins with the arrival of Admiral Chester A. Nimitz at Pearl Harbor after the devastating Japanese attack and describes the key events leading to the climactic battle, including both Coral Sea - the first battle in history against opposing carrier forces - and Jimmy Doolittle's daring raid of Tokyo. He focuses throughout on the people involved, offering telling portraits of Admirals Nimitz, Halsey, Spruance, and numerous other Americans, as well as the leading Japanese figures, including the poker-loving Admiral Yamamoto. Indeed, Symonds sheds much light on the aspects of Japanese culture - such as their single-minded devotion to combat, which led to poorly armored planes and inadequate fire-safety measures on their ships - that contributed to their defeat.

The author's account of the battle itself is masterful, weaving together the many disparate threads of attack - attacks which failed in the early going - that ultimately created a five-minute window in which three of the four Japanese carriers were mortally wounded, changing the course of the Pacific war in an eye-blink.

Symonds is the first historian to argue that the victory at Midway was not simply a matter of luck, pointing out that Nimitz had equal forces, superior intelligence, and the element of surprise. Nimitz had a strong hand, Symonds concludes, and he rightly expected to win.

©2011 Craig L. Symonds (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History)

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Terrific

An excellent account of the Battle of Midway. Craig Symonds uses a timeline narrative but avoids the trap of lapsing into a dry chronological account of events. The narrative is leavened with well-written descriptions of the personalities and idiosyncrasies of the men who featured in the battle. The courage of the aviators was particularly astonishing. These men flew their rickety planes across miles of shark-infested waters to bomb or torpedo enemy ships while under relentless assault from flak and fighter-planes.

One quibble I have about the book is the absence of maps for the audio version. Fortunately the image section of any internet search engine will provide you with any maps that you need. Midway is one of the most intensively studied battles of WW2 and lots of research resources are available online.

James Lurie's narration is excellent.

3 people found this helpful

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acknowledgement of facts..?

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

yes because it has a lot of info

What did you like best about this story?

A lot of extra info surrounding the Battle.

What didn’t you like about James Lurie’s performance?

Nil.

Did The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History) inspire you to do anything?

Yes.. It inspired me to write the following comments.

Any additional comments?

I bought this due to my interest in the navel battle of midway, however I didn't want or care for the life stories of the few high ranked officers involved. But what made me write this review was the frustration in Craig Symonds lack of knowledge on the other Allied forces involved int the pacific war, mainly the Australians who defended Port Morsby. He states that the protection of Port Morsby relied only the carriers of the US Navy..? hahaha Well in actual fact they did nothing!! It was the Australians who defended Port Morsby an most of the rest of the far south Pacific.

6 people found this helpful

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Outstanding quality

It sounds a bit 'Hollywood' but in fact this narrator's delivery is superb. The telling of this battle is thoughtfully broken down and is as sad as it is entertaining and enlightening. Honestly, this exceeded expectations and I thoroughly enjoyed every audible page. But by Jove it's kinda sad!

1 person found this helpful

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A very accurate and exciting position of the facts

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

If WW11 in the Pacific is of interest to you, then this will hit the spot.

Who was your favorite character and why?

They all were, as without them working as a team together the complicated tactics deployed would of failed. Nimitz is the guy that stuck by the intelligence he was given and this proved the right thing to do.

What about James Lurie’s performance did you like?

Very punchy and convincing portrayal of the characters that made the Midway island so strategic to the success in the Pacific during WW11

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The USA's fight back to victory start's here.

Any additional comments?

Really entertaining, worth the purchase.

5 people found this helpful

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Fascinating

Well written, very well researched, debunks a lot of mythology and gives a superb all round detailed view of one of the 4 most important battles of WW2 and probably the most decisive naval engagement in history

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Insightful but also detailed description of the Battle of Midway.

We learn how the Midway battle was pivotal in progression of the war and ultimate destruction of the Japanese navy. Symonds gives us extensive detail of the officers and leaders on both sides , the art, technology and organisation plus luck ; I only wish I had a map in front of me ; the detail is extensive often the macro perspective isn’t clear.
James Lurie is a terrific commentator and by the end of the saga the reader will learn why a poorly and understaffed American fleet prevailed.
Super read.

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A fine history of one of the greatest sea battles ever

Such an important battle in the Pacific which saw the beginning of the end of The Japanese dominance in this region. It took another 3 years before the wars end and from Midway on the Americans industrial power really came to the fore and the end result was never again in doubt. The bravery of the Service personnel on both sides was astonishing and luck played a significant part in the outcome of this battle. The author has given, to me anyway, a very balanced account with no triumphalism. Glad I was not involved, the self sacrifice of mostly young men was astonishing.

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Fictional but actually fact

Loved the story and the narration. Craig Symonds has certainly put together a wealth of facts and figures into an understandable story, and James Lurie has delivered it to perfection. Listened to it twice, once then listened again, and then I will listen to it again. Every time you listen to it, you will pick up on something extra. Awesome audio book awesome narration.
We'll I waited 12 hours and listened to it a third time. McCluskey, Best and all the rest should have got no medals at all, and I say that because Lt. Roachfort, who basically cracked the Japanese code and prevented the destruction of Midway, and who also warned Washington about Pearl; when he was put up for a medal for his decoding, had it refused by an Admiral from Washington saying "we cannot give medals to men who were only doing what they are paid to do". Weren't the pilots paid to fly? Roachfort did get his medal, posthumously in 47.
Listen to this book, it's an absolute must! You won't get a medal either but you will get 100% satisfaction.

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The best Book on Midway I've Come Across

There are many books written about this pivotal battle of the second World War. I've only read two other accounts and, although they were both good, this book is by far the most comprehensive I've read. Not only that, but it tells the story in a linear way that makes each of the key events clear. Other Pacific history books I've read often jump around the chronology of the events they cover, making for difficulties in understanding how events played out.

To provide the context to the pivotal Midway battle, this book also details the events leading up to it that have relevance. The Dolittle raid and the battle of the Coral Sea as well as the code breaking efforts taking place behind the scenes. All of this is laid out in the correct chronology, so easy to follow.

There are details here I've not found in other sources and even elements to the Midway battle I wasn't even aware of.

Narration is perfect for such a book with James Lurie superb reading and a voice that has the smooth gravitas to suit this subject matter being the icing on the cake.

If you've perhaps read other books on Midway and are wondering why you should get another, then I can recommend this wholeheartedly for its detail, linear narrative style and completeness. Full marks to Craig L. Symonds for a well researched and superbly written book.

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A good review of the Battle of Midway

A well documented account of the lead up and aftermath of the Battle of Midway.

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  • Matthew
  • 04-12-13

You may knock US down, but you can't knock US out

Would you listen to The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History) again? Why?

Absolutely. I had already planned on doing that when I was still listening. There is simply too much information to fully absorb at one time. I've studied Midway in the past and each time I learn more about how close we were to the edge, but how those who fought there never felt defeated.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Not a character because this is non-fiction, but my most heroic person, individually, would be Lt. Commander John C. Waldron of VT-8. A real life leader and hero.

Which scene was your favorite?

None. This was a horrible, but necessary event in history.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes the story of all of the torpedo squadrons and their attacks, but in particular the attack by squadron eight (VT-8) from the U.S.S. Hornet; this piece of history get's me every time. Here were 15 aircraft each carrying three young men in the prime of life. They didn't want to be there and they didn't want to die. Despite that and knowing full well they were outgunned, without fighter air cover, without dive bomber help for a coordinated attack, and flying slow obsolete aircraft; they went in on their attack runs. They knew the odds were heavily against them, but they brought the planes down low, slow and straight and pressed forward their attack. Each in turn. And they were slaughtered. Only one man survived the attack and none of their torpedoes did any damage to the enemy ships. That is real honor and heroism; not that stuff the enemy was shoveling.

Any additional comments?

I actually liked the narrator. His voice, inflection and cadence were appropriate for the telling of this story.

22 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 14-10-13

A solid book to listen to...

The author writes the history in a very clear narrative style. The amount of background is sufficient, and introduced in the proper way. In the end he explains not only the Battle of Midway, but the thinking, strategies, limitations, and advantages that eventually led to the US victory at Midway and in the Pacific War.

Mr Lurie has a smooth speaking style. He is the kind of narrator that makes you forget that he didn't actually write the book - he is only reading it.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Jeremy
  • 22-11-12

A unique tale of tactical wars

Most history books talk about wars a lot, but they tend to focus on the strategic decisions, those big decisions that change the course of a war, like a major military offensive, the supply channels, the number of troops or equipment commandeered, etc.

This book is very different in that it is about the tactical detail of one military operation. For this reason it is also unique and I recommend to anyone who is interested about how war really work, on the field. For example, the general story about Midway is that the Japanese did not know that the aircraft carriers would be there and were taken by surprise. But what does it mean to be taken by surprise? Didn't they have their own carriers (and more of them) if the US carriers were actually on site? The tactical side explains that a single bomb will sink a carrier and that, silly enough, the Japanese had indicated their position as a result of a ship chasing a US submarine, that they had sent many of their attack planes on a raid instead of against the US carriers, that they couldn't even locate the latter, and that they had armed their bombs up on the carrier making them even more vulnerable.

These are just many things that emerge from the tactical analysis, but there is much more interesting tale about how specific individuals did affect the entire operation, another testimony to the importance of just one person for an entire war.








14 people found this helpful

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  • Dan McGrew
  • 09-05-13

Midway Revisited

What other book might you compare The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History) to and why?

This is a good book that has some very interesting new information, that some of the other books on Midway don't have. There are also flaws in this book as well, such as the deployment of the F4F Wildcat in 1942, Wildcats were operational in Dec 1941, on Wake and Midway, the F2B Buffalos deployed to Midway late in May-June of 1942 were sold to the Dutch government for their use in their colonies but absorbed into the USMC after Java and other Dutch colonies fell to the Japanese.

Would you listen to another book narrated by James Lurie?

I would have to be very interested in the book to listen to him again, I almost returned the book but the story held my interest.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No but remembering the sacrifice of the Torpedo Squadrons and VMF 211 is a part of the battle that needs to be remembered

Any additional comments?

Despite its short comings this is a book worth reading or listening too.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Jean
  • 07-04-15

Excellent

I almost skipped over this book as over the years I have read so many books about the Battle of Midway; I thought to myself do I want to read another book on this subject. I am glad I did decide to read this book as I learned more about the battle from it.
Midway was a pivotal battle of WWII. Symond is a professor emeritus from the U. S. Naval Academy.

Many historians including Symonds have compared the Battle of Midway to that of Lord Nelson’s win at the Battle of Trafalgar. The comparison is apt as both battles had far-reaching effects on the course of the conflict during which they occurred.

The U.S. Navy was on a defensive position after Pearl Harbor. At the battle of Midway the Japanese lost four of the largest aircraft carriers with their crews and aircraft. The U.S. Navy gained a strategic initiative that it maintained for the rest of the War.

Symond insist that victory was the result of decisions and actions taken by certain individuals. He proceeds during the book to build his case. Symond recounts and explains the events of the battle both from the Japanese and American viewpoint.

Symond also covers the story of the Navy code breakers and how critical that was to the success of the battle as the Navy knew the Japanese intentions. At the end of the book Symonds reviews what happened to each of the key people after the War.

Symond provides a lucid, intensely researched account of the battle of Midway. If you are interested in WWII history this is book you must read. James Lurie narrated the book.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Kevin der Kinderen
  • 07-08-15

More Exciting than Fiction

This is an exciting story that rings true in its interpretation of history. The outcome is known but the story is not melodramatic. The realities faced by Japan's and America's navies both operational and political are well presented.

I got a real feeling I could grasp and understand why things happened as they did, what must have gone through pilot's minds as the reached beyond their fuel limits then missed with all bombs or torpedoes.

While Washington seemed to second guess some of Nimitz's decisions they seemed to smartly remain largely hands off. Actually, that part doesn't ring true but maybe it was a different time, different respect for chain of command.

Seems Japan had it much worse with the army throwing the country into war and mostly leaving the navy to fight it themselves. I almost get the feeling that to Japan's army, the sea war in the Pacific was a distraction that kept Japan's navy out of their way.

Based on previous stories (including the movie) I had a little more respect for Yamamoto and some of his officers. This book took some of that away. In fact, I'd say this book made most of the key players leading to the battle of Midway a lot more human in my mind. Less the glorious hero and more the flawed, brave, arrogant, and patriotic real hero.

I really enjoyed this one.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Marc S. Statdfield
  • 23-05-18

Read this book, not this review!

What makes this work phenomenal is that it gives the listener an astounding level of detail without the narrative ever getting bogged down. Listening to this book there were times I felt as if was riding on the wing of a dive bomber as it pushed over for it's attack. Will appeal as much to a student of military history as to someone just looking for an entertaining read.

3 people found this helpful

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  • AmazonCustomer
  • 29-12-13

Spellbinding account.

This was a wonderful book that described the battle both in terms of the action and also with insight into the influence of culture. The author sites many names of those who were heroic but not officers which keeps us attuned to the people who fought this battle as well as the officers and decision makers. The performance was excellent, this book kept us on the edge of our seats even knowing the ending.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Rebecca
  • 16-07-20

Minute by minute action.

Great storytelling. The research brings the stories of all the men who's sacrifice was needed to bring this battle's story a new perspective.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tom
  • 07-12-19

History is in the details

It's always interesting to me to hear about the details of an epic event in history. This story comes alive with all the background stories of the people involved in this battle - both Americans and Japanese. It makes me proud to be an American when I hear about the sacrifices our sailors and soldiers made when we were still reeling from the devastating attack on Peal Harbor, on this day, December 7, 1941.

The self-sacrifice of our armed services appears even more impressive because I get the feeling that it was their singular focus to protect and serve their comrades and country. My father (U.S. Navy) and grandfather (British Navy) both dedicated many years serving in the Navy. So on a very personal level, I'm very proud of them for their service. The more I learn about the details of a historical event, in this case Midway, the more grateful I feel to be fortunate enough to live in America.

I think if people were more aware of these details, the more we would be proud of our country and understand that, while we make mistakes, we have in many, many cases sought to fight for just causes in order to give people the right to determine how they want to be governed.

Being friendly with dictators and allowing countries to get away with murdering their citizens and ours is not the American way and is anathema to what our country should stand for. I forgot where I heard this, but someone told me once "if you don't stand for something you will follow for anything."

I think books like, "The Battle of Midway," remind me that thank God (or whoever) that our service members and their leaders stood for something back in WWII or else it would be a much nastier world than it is today.

Enjoy this Great read and keep looking for the details...that's the only way to get closer to the truth!

1 person found this helpful