On August 7, 1942, exactly eight months after the devastating Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, elements of the First Marine Division landed on Guadalcanal and three other islands occupied by enemy forces. Two months earlier, the U.S. Navy had won a decisive engagement at the Battle of Midway and stopped Japan’s eastward offensive by sinking four aircraft carriers and a heavy cruiser and thwarting Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s plans to destroy the American Pacific Fleet. Now, for the first time in World War II, American forces were seizing the strategic initiative and taking offensive action against a major Axis power.
Code-named Operation WATCHTOWER, the landings on Guadalcanal, Tulagi,Tanambogo, and Gavutu had one goal: the capture of a new Japanese airfield under construction on Guadalcanal’s north coast. If the Japanese completed it, the air base could be used to cut the lifeline between the U.S. and Australia. If this occurred, Australia could face a Japanese invasion and America would lose a vital ally and staging area for the campaigns that would lead to Tokyo – and victory
Ian W. Toll’s “The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942-1944” (W.W. Norton, 2015) is the sequel to 2011’s “Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942.” This second book in Toll’s trilogy about World War II in the Pacific picks up the story where “Pacific Crucible” left off. It starts two months after the Battle of Midway and covers the two-year “island-hopping” campaigns that took airmen, sailors, marines, and soldiers from the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific all the way to the Mariana Islands in the Central Pacific.
The devastation of Pearl Harbor and the American victory at Midway were prelude to a greater challenge: rolling back the vast Japanese Pacific empire, island by island.
This masterful history encompasses the heart of the Pacific War—the period between mid-1942 and mid-1944—when parallel Allied counteroffensives north and south of the equator washed over Japan’s far-flung island empire like a “conquering tide,” concluding with Japan’s irreversible strategic defeat in the Marianas. It was the largest, bloodiest, most costly, most technically innovative and logistically complicated amphibious war in history, and it fostered bitter interservice rivalries, leaving wounds that even victory could not heal. – From the publisher’s jacket blurb
Toll, who also wrote the acclaimed “Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Foundation of the U.S. Navy” (W.W. Norton, 2008), blends meticulous research and a novelist’s sensibility to tell the story of the struggle between America and Japan over the vast expanses of the Pacific. In its 656 pages, “The Conquering Tide” examines the rivalry between the pompous and arrogant Gen. Douglas MacArthur and his counterparts in the Navy and Marine Corps, as well as the bitter arguments that led to the “dual drive” strategy in the Pacific War.
The book covers all the major naval, air, and land battles fought over tiny coral islands and large jungle-covered islands with unfamiliar and exotic names: Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Tarawa, Kwajalein, and Saipan. It also delves into the political and social aspects of the war in America as well as Japan. With his clear prose and reader-friendly style, Toll masterfully uses first-hand accounts — including letters, diaries, debriefings, and memoirs— to weave a narrative tapestry that is remarkably enlightening and incredibly riveting.
- Series: Pacific War Trilogy
- Hardcover: 656 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition (September 21, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393080641
- ISBN-13: 978-0393080643