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Potomac Books
Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway

Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway

by Anthony Tully, Jonathan Parshall


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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 extensive use of Japanese primary sources. It also corrects the many errors of Mitsuo Fuchida’s Midway: The Battle That Doomed Japan, an uncritical reliance upon which has tainted every previous Western account. It thus forces a major, potentially controversial reevaluation of the great battle.

Parshall and Tully examine the battle in detail and effortlessly place it within the context of the Imperial Navy’s doctrine and technology. With a foreword by leading World War II naval historian John Lundstrom, Shattered Sword is an indispensable part of any military buff’s library.

Shattered Sword is the winner of the 2005 John Lyman Book Award for the "Best Book in U.S. Naval History" and was cited by Proceedings as one of its "Notable Naval Books" for 2005.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781574889239
Publisher: Potomac Books
Publication date: 11/30/2005
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 640
Sales rank: 151,903
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 2.00(d)

About the Author

Both Jonathan Parshall and Tony Tully were members of a 1999 mission to the Midway battle site by the Nauticos Corp. and the U.S. Navy Oceanographic Office. Parshall is widely published on naval history in journals and magazines and has contributed to a number of books on the topic. He maintains an award-winning Web site on the Imperial Navy, Parshall lives in Minneapolis.

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Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
ChadAaronSayban More than 1 year ago
The Battle of Midway has been chronicled in books and films countless times in the sixty-six years since the battle between the Japanese and American navies during the Second World War. The summer of 1942 has forever been stamped as the turning point in the war in the Pacific and Parshall & Tully do nothing to discount its importance. What the do is provide accessibility to information - most notably large amounts of Japanese writings and documentation - and make them available to English readers in many cases for the very first time. One thing this book is not is revisionist history. If anything, it is a clarification of the facts of what actually happened and - more importantly - the chain of events that took place to bring about one of the most decisive battles in history. The most important result of all of the research is to throw into doubt the idea that the Japanese naval force was vastly superior to the Americans in every way and it was only due to luck and circumstance that the American navy was able to win the day. This is a view that was championed most notably by Mitsuo Fuchida - a Japanese naval officer who participated in the battle - in his book Midway: The Battle That Doomed Japan. This view has been echoed throughout the years, notably in the movie Midway, not just because of Fuchida's first-hand knowledge and a lack of substantial documentation to the contrary, but because of our American love of being a victorious underdog. But by pouring through stacks of Japanese documentation, Parshall & Tulley are able to piece together a somewhat different account demonstrating that the two navies were far more evenly matched than anyone thought going into the battle. A combination of Japan's poor military communication, the limited training of the Japanese ship crews, the flawed construction of their ships and their low opinion of the capabilities of the American sailor contributed as much to the outcome of the battle as the tenacity, daring and exquisite training of the American navy. Ultimately, overconfidence and poor planning all but doomed the Japanese navy before the battle even began. Sun Tzu would be proud. The book provides a thorough view from the Japanese side to compliment the detailed American accounting of books such as Miracle at Midway. Throughout the book, Parshall & Tulley provide the reader an in-depth, well researched treatise. Better yet, they write it in such a way that the reader becomes a part of the events from the very first page all the way to the conclusion, taking you from the conferences of the Japanese leadership to the bridge of Admiral Nagumo's flagship to the view from the water as a young sailor watches his proud ship go under. The result of this is a book that balances all the facts and provides a clear accounting of everything that led up to the most important single battle of the Pacific War while simultaneously keeping the reader engaged in the drama of the events. Not only is this the best, most thorough book on the Battle of Midway, it is one of the best written and researched books on the Second World War ever produced. If you are going to write history, Parshall has provided the roadmap on how to do it right with Shattered Sword. This book sets the bar extremely high for any future works on the topic. Shattered Sword is as good as history writing gets.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Don't discount this book as just another telling of the much-told Battle of Midway. This is a definitive new work on the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) at Midway, although you wouldn't gather that from the title. 'Shattered Sword' effectively supplants 'Midway: the Battle That Doomed Japan' by Fuchida and Okumiya as THE resource on the IJN at Midway. The authors effectively debunk a number of popular myths about the battle (including a few seminal fables instigated by Fuchida himself) while giving a detailed, in-depth accounting of the Japanese side of the battle, including the fundamental flaws in their strategy and the reasons for those flaws. The graphics are superb, with computer-generated charts and diagrams that ably support the text. Naval historians at all levels will want this book prominently positioned in their bookcase.
Ajhall More than 1 year ago
A lot of commonly accepted reasons for the IJN's stunning defeat at Midway turn out on deeper analysis to be flawed or even outright self-serving myths. These flawed ideas are perpetuated in the West because of lazy scholarship and intellectual corner-cutting. Parshall and Tully set out to reconsider the evidence and dig deeper than many American historians were willing to do. The result is "Shattered Sword," a meticulously researched and analyzed look at the battle from the Japanese perspective. Their study isn't so much a revisionist look back as a neccesary corrective. They convincingly argue that the data has always been available, but Western writers often chose to take the easier path and simply accept self-serving post-war Japanese analysis, vis-a-vis Fuchida's "Midway: The Battle That Doomed Japan". Using much primary material, they METICULOUSLY detail within the text and in Appendices the IJNs operations before, during and after the battle. They argue the IJN was never close to launching strikes against USN forces when caught unprepared by dive bombing attack. They further argue that the IJN was way out of it's depth from the beginning. Individual acts of Japanese heroism were negated by poor planning, tactical ineptitude and outdated operational thinking. "Shattered Sword" is incredibly detailed and precisely analyzed, yet the narrative is engaging and readily accessible to anyone with an interest in the Pacific war, rarely pedantic or succumbing to cant. The authors present an at times moving portrait of what the ordinary IJN sailor faced that day. I was pleasantly surprised at their ability to draw me in and keep me engaged through the entire work. "Shattered Sword" is a memorable, critical view from the "other side" of a hugely important battle. Read in conjunction with SE Morison's official USN history, "Shattered Sword" will give the reader a well-rounded historical view of Midway. Reading it with Gordon Prange's popular "Miracle at Midway" will offer a stark counter-point to that work's flawed conclusions. I highly recommend this book.
LanceT More than 1 year ago
Tully and Parshall start from scratch, employ rigorous cholarly standards,and come up with some terrific revelations and several surprising conclusions on the Battle of Midway. Very detailed accounts of the planning stages of the battle, technical aspects of Japanese carrier operations, and almost minute-by-minute accounts of the crucial hours combine to give a new historical perspective. Authors' conclusions are unconventional, but well-founded on solid research. Many revelations and a fresh approach make this a treat for military history buffs. If you haven't read Shattered Sword, you don't know the full story of the Battle of Midway.
kaga060442 More than 1 year ago
This is THE book you must read if you have read any other account of the Battle of Miday. Not only do the authors build a riviting story, but back it up with crisp analysis of the actions of those involved and point out where other popular misconceptions of the battle have arose. The authors pull from recently translated Japanese documents previously unavailable to Western authors to build a story that was facinating. I have read many of the books that were previously published regarding this famous battle and this book is the most precise account in its detail that I have found.
Miro on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Parshall goes to original sources and rebuilds events without bias = revisionism for the best reasons. He shows how important it is to get down to the level of procedures, ship designs etc. while at the same time going into higher level questions such as national/military ethos to find out why things happened the way they did.The Japanese group of four carriers could launch devastating combined attacks but had poor intelligence compounded by weak aerial reconnaissance. In fact they were caught by surprise, and the scrappy uncoordinated and continuous American torpedo plane attacks from different directions distracted and divided their fighter cover + for hours persuaded them not to use their flight decks for an essential retaliatory strike. Also they didn't have experience of aerial attack, and their AA batteries and damage control equipment and systems were inadequate.
Shrike58 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just when you think that there is no need to read yet another book dealing with some aspect of the Second World War, along comes a work that knocks some cherished myth in the head. What Parshall and Tully have done is taken the body of Japanese scholarship that has been generated in the last twenty or so years and have finally made it accessible for the English-speaking public, and it turns out that the conventional wisdom is downright wrong; a product of accepting the Japanese white-washing of their poor performance (most notably by Mitsuo Fuchida) at face value. Instead, one gets a vision of a battle that, if not America's to lose, was at least one where the odds were effectively even and the Japanese had the misfortune of having all the congenital problems in their concept of naval warfare congeal into disaster at the same time. I cannot recommend this book enough.
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