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Brigman

Recommended Reading for Club IJN

I don't know what drew each of you to Club IJN, but for myself, the Japanese Navy was always fascinating.  To that end, a few books I'd recommend to any Club IJN members (or anyone else!) interested in their history:

Requiem for Battleship Yamato - by Yoshida Mitsuru.  Told by one of the survivors of Yamato, the story of her last mission.  Hearbreaking vignettes of the thoughts and actions of the crew leading up to the end, and beyond.

Build the Musashi! The Birth and Death of the World's Greatest Battleship - by Akira Yoshimura.  Great read about the actual construction of Musashi, the technical challenges, her career, and her final battle.

A Glorious Way to Die: The Kamikaze Mission of the Battleship Yamato, April 1945 - by Russell Spurr. Spurr, a Brit, interviews both sides, including Yamato survivors and American pilots, to get the big picture and full details of Yamato's last stand in a way that only a third party could.

Samurai! - by Saburo Sakai.  This is what the "Elite Zero" is all about in War at Sea.  An absolute must-read, the detailed accounts and personal recollections of Japan's last surviving fighter ace.  Covers the Pacific War from near-beginning to bitter end.  Sakai - even after being blinded in one eye - enters a dogfight with 15 Hellcats, by himself.  And survives.  Read it!

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour by James D. Hornfischer.  While this focuses on the American side of things, it details the Battle of Samar, the only time Yamato fired her guns on another ship in anger.  A moving read and a great book that shows that the USN didn't win the war by production and technology alone.

Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942 - by Ian W. Toll.  Covering the events leading up to Pearl Harbor and the early days of the war, it has painted in details of battles for me that I'd only heard about.  At this writing, I'm not finished with it yet, but it's highly gripping so I recommend it!

Neptune's Inferno - by James D. Hornfischer.  If you enjoyed Last Stand you will love Neptune's Inferno, about the naval battles off Guadalcanal. Iconic ships such as Kirishima, Hiei, Nagara, Akitsuki, Mursasame, San Francisco, Boise, Atlanta, Juneau, South Dakota, Washington and more all play their part in this titanic struggle for Guadalcanal, decided mostly by night actions between surface combatants.

Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941, By Evans and Peattie - This is a fascinating look at how the IJN developed and evolved over the years. If you want to know why the Japanese had the ships they had during WW II, and why they fought them the way they did, this book is a good place to start. It also illuminates a lot of the wrong-headed strategic thinking and dysfunctional command relationships present in the Japanese military leading up to WW II. It can be a little hard to track down a copy, but it is worth it!

Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway, by Tulley and Parshall - This book is one of the better accounts of the battle, and really lays out some convincing evidece that calls into question some popular notions about what transpired. From the IJN perspective, the authors go into great detail about Japanese carrier design, layout, and doctrine, much more so than they do for the Americans. On top of all that, this book is also very readable, including Japanese survivor accounts of the events that occured on board the Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu during the battle.

Fading Victory: The Diary of Admiral Matome Ugaki, 1941-1945, translated and annotated by Dillon and Goldstein - Ugaki was a senior aviator in the Japanese navy, and served as Yamamoto's chief of staff. As a result, he was the man in charge of planning both Pearl Harbor and Midway. As such, his diary offers incredible insight into the thought process behind the Combined Fleet's major actions. He also went out in style; in the last days of the war, he took off on a personal Kamikaze mission with several close associates, and was never seen again!

Honorable mention goes to The Tide at Sunrise: A History of the Russo-Japanese War, by Denis & Peggy Warner - Obviously not about WW II, this book covers the entire scope of the conflict, and has an excellent account of Togo's actions during the war, including the Battle of Tsushima.

Feel free to post your own suggestions, comments, or reviews.  And while this thread is aimed at Club IJN members, other comentary is of course welcome. Smile  I'll update this first post with new books as they are suggested!
sublime828

Im a big fan of J. Hornfischer.  Tin Can was probably one of the top 5 wwii naval books that I have read.  

Also I have been meaning to read Samurai, its on my shelf, just havent gotten to it yet.
Brigman

Sakai's book is frikkin' amazing.  They had a battered 1st edition copy at my local library, which is how I read it.  Someday I hope to acquire my own copy - of the first edition, the later editions are easy to find.

Of course some idiot drew a picture of "Calvin" from Calvin and Hobbs on one of the pages in ballpoint pen, saying "Stupid Japanese!"... Sad
Indy Sparky

If you enjoyed Last Stand you will love Neptune's Inferno, its about the naval battles off Guadulcanal.  A great read!!!
Brigman

Neptune's Inferno... must remember that one!  Thanks!
sublime828

Indy Sparky wrote:
If you enjoyed Last Stand you will love Neptune's Inferno, its about the naval battles off Guadulcanal.  A great read!!!


Just about finished with it....I do like it a lot but it doesn't flow quite as well as tin can but it is still a very good read.
Tincancaptain

Because while often overlooked the successes of the imperial Japanese navy were numerous and quite impressive. Examples of IJN successes included the most advanced submarines in the world until the German type 21. They were the first to put functional 16" guns on a ship they were the only nation to develop a functional new torpedo design in the interwar period they build the largest ships to sail and did so in nearly complete secret. They effectively made naval aviation the principal method of future naval warfare and can be counted at the real killers of the battleship. And many of their ships (especially their cruisers and destroyers) are downright beautiful.
sublime828

Tincancaptain wrote:
Because while often overlooked the successes of the imperial Japanese navy were numerous and quite impressive. Examples of IJN successes included the most advanced submarines in the world until the German type 21. They were the first to put functional 16" guns on a ship they were the only nation to develop a functional new torpedo design in the interwar period they build the largest ships to sail and did so in nearly complete secret. They effectively made naval aviation the principal method of future naval warfare and can be counted at the real killers of the battleship. And many of their ships (especially their cruisers and destroyers) are downright beautiful.


All true, no think what they could have done with a production sector and access to more natural resources......scary stuff.
Ruckdog05

While I'm CUSN, I'm also a history major, so this definitely appeals to my interests! Wink

Here are a few of my favorites:

Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941, By Evans and Peattie - This is a fascinating look at how the IJN developed and evolved over the years. If you want to know why the Japanese had the ships they had during WW II, and why they fought them the way they did, this book is a good place to start. It also illuminates a lot of the wrong-headed strategic thinking and dysfunctional command relationships present in the Japanese military leading up to WW II. It can be a little hard to track down a copy, but it is worth it!

Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway, by Tulley and Parshall - This book is one of the better accounts of the battle, and really lays out some convincing evidece that calls into question some popular notions about what transpired. From the IJN perspective, the authors go into great detail about Japanese carrier design, layout, and doctrine, much more so than they do for the Americans. On top of all that, this book is also very readable, including Japanese survivor accounts of the events that occured on board the Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu during the battle.

Fading Victory: The Diary of Admiral Matome Ugaki, 1941-1945, translated and annotated by Dillon and Goldstein - Ugaki was a senior aviator in the Japanese navy, and served as Yamamoto's chief of staff. As a result, he was the man in charge of planning both Pearl Harbor and Midway. As such, his diary offers incredible insight into the thought process behind the Combined Fleet's major actions. He also went out in style; in the last days of the war, he took off on a personal Kamikaze mission with several close associates, and was never seen again!

Honorable mention goes to The Tide at Sunrise: A History of the Russo-Japanese War, by Denis & Peggy Warner - Obviously not about WW II, this book covers the entire scope of the conflict, and has an excellent account of Togo's actions during the war, including the Battle of Tsushima.
Brigman

Hey, thanks Ruckdog!  I'll add those to the list (and hopefully read them soon)!
Tricki Vic BB71

I check my school's library if they have any of these books.

Has anyone ever read Fire in the Sky: The Air War in the South Pacific by Eri M Bergerund?

Couldn't finish it but I my knowledge of Japanese and US fighter tactics expanded and explained greatly about each nation's aircraft.
Brigman

Added Build the Musashi to the list.  Fascinating read about the actual construction as well as the career of Yamato's sister.
Brigman

Having just finished Build the Musashi!, I also picked up Neptune's Inferno at my local library.  Looking forward to reading this one, as I loved Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors by Hornfischer... Smile
sublime828

Brigman wrote:
Having just finished Build the Musashi!, I also picked up Neptune's Inferno at my local library.  Looking forward to reading this one, as I loved Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors by Hornfischer... Smile


It is a good read but it won't keep you as "on the edge of your seat" as Tin Can.  I still liked the book very much, but Tin Can is tuff to beat
Joe

I'm gonna put a mention in for The Battle of Surigao Strait the new book by Anthony Tully (one of the authors of Shattered Sword) it's written in much the same style and is really a lovely read. http://ww2db.com/surigao/
Brigman

Finished Neptune's Inferno and added my own review to the above.  Have to say I found it a great read, and shows the battles that famous ships are known for.  Great night battles, the only BB-on-BB sinking between the IJN/USN, and the charge of the light brigade as San Francisco takes on Hiei and Kirishima with only cruisers and destroyers to back her up.

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