Book Reviews; two for the price of one…
…and the subject matter couldn’t be more different.
While a lot of naval books focus on the ‘big’ battles of war – Jutland, Midway, The Atlantic – this one is an in-depth study recollecting a US vs. Japan battle in the Philippine Sea in gaining control of the Guam and its island neighbours. The term ‘Turkey Shoot’ was coined by an airman after one of the dogfights during the week-long fight and is famous for being a totally fought in the air by two battle groups hundreds of miles apart where surface ships never saw sight of each other.
While Midway became the real turning point in the Pacific War for the Americans when Japan lost a lot of its major ‘flat tops’, Philippine Sea all but sealed the deal as the Japanese, stretched at best, lost not only three more carriers, but somewhere close to 75% of its remaining seaborne aircraft, and more importantly experienced pilots.
The recollection is very good in building up to the battle, the planning and sparring from both sides while putting into layman’s terms what was happening, and what the risk was to both sides. Calling on interviews from survivors on both sides it is (almost) balanced in its reporting, however it does tend to lean towards the American side i bias, something which is probably easy to do when the author is a Yank, and the Yanks were deemed the victors.
All in all a fascinating read that doesn’t bore one with too much jargon and has a good focus on the thoughts and fears of those who dueled in the air. I have read many a book on war and more often than not I have sometimes wondered how the hell the Allies managed to win, what with poor planning, poor execution, and more often than not inter-service distrust. This book almost has you thinking the same thing, but the underlying tone in this is courage, and risk, and the Americans more than had this with near fatal results. Nothing to take away from the Japanese; hopelessly outnumbered and in inferior hardware, but if one chapter sticks out for me, it comes near the end when the American aircrews are left with no choice but to ‘come home’ in the dark.
Thrilling stuff that makes it hard to put down…
I don’t shy away from it, and over the years have enjoyed more than a few, and this one on the blurb alone made me read it, and I am bloody glad I did.
“Letters to a Love Rat’ by Niamh Greene is a girly book, about in part, girly books. It has an interesting plot; one girl writes letters (but never sends them) to a man who crushed her heart years back on the advice of her counselor. Another wakes up after her honeymoon to a note from her new husband which asks her to put out the recycling, oh yeah, and tells her that her he’s left her. The other girl writes a blog (with appropriate following) detailing her affair with her boss…
…the key, they all refer to the central man, Charlie.
In true Irish fashion the book is funny without trying hard to be so, and the writing is great as the three leading ladies are as different as different can be. Throw in a hunky janitor, a house painter, a gay prison guard, and no less than three famous writers, and you have a story (or three) that’s hard to put down.
It seems that Niamh has written a few books where the titles suggest a similar style/plot line, but if this one is anything to go by, I will keep a keen eye for them.