Amphibious Operations In The South Pacific In WWII: Volume II: The Solomon Campaigns 1942-1943: From Guadalcanal To Bougainville Pacific War Turning Point, by William L. McGee
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Having read the first book in the series , I was pleased that the author sent me this book to read after I spoke to a group of veterans of logistics ships in World War II . I’ll have to admit that the length of this book put me off for a while. It’s hard to look at a book that is 600 pages and not think that there are books that are faster to read, and yet this book didn’t take too long to read when I finally got around to it. I just wish that I had gotten around to it earlier, as it is a really interesting book that looks at a somewhat obscure and forgotten area of World War II and does justice to its context and the lessons learned by the Navy. This is precisely the sort of history of World War II that deserves to be written more often and read, especially as it focuses on areas of logistics that are of critical importance to soldiers but are often neglected by armchair generals who love discussing tactical victories.
The contents of this book are pretty expansive. In about 600 pages worth of material including the appendices to the works, the author manages to pack in a great deal of information. Part One of the book contains the first three chapters about Guadalcanal. The book begins with a discussion of the strategic decisions, plans, and preparations for the Guadalcanal campaign. After this comes a chapter on the landings on that fetid island. A very lengthy chapter of nearly two hundred pages then follows on the lengthy six-month struggle for the island as the Japanese and Americans both made piecemeal reinforcements of their garrisons and engaged in a deadly and immensely destructive naval war of attrition for control of the seas around Guadalcanal. The second part of the book looks at the Central Solomons campaign, with four chapters on the amphibious rehearsals in the Russells, the lull between the storms, the invasion of New Georgia, and the occupation of Vella Lavella. The third part of the book contains the last two chapters, which look at the successful Bouganville campaign to capture that troubled island and a discussion of some of the lessons learned in the fight over those islands from August 19th 1943 to November 19 1943.
There are a lot of reasons why this is a great worth that deserves to be read even with its length. For one, it discusses areas of World War II that are somewhat neglected–both in terms of the obscure campaigns of the Central and Northern Solomon Islands that helped to originate the famous island-hopping strategy of the United States during the Pacific War as well as the vital importance of logistics in determining the success of the United States and its allies in these campaigns. In addition to that, the book is written with a great deal of charisma and charm and the author is quick to give credit to other historians who have discussed matters of importance, which he quotes with attribution and obvious respect. The author comes off not only as immensely knowledgeable but also as immensely likable, and that is something of great and often neglected importance when it comes to matters of military history. In giving a master class of how to write a book that is a compelling volume as well as part of a deeply interesting series about often neglected or forgotten areas of history.