Despite America’s triumph, mistakes doomed nearly an entire navy unit
Every military triumph also contains tragedy—think of the thousands of men who weren’t moving inland at the end of June 6, 1944—and the Battle of Midway, decisive as any victory ever gained by American arms, holds one that Alvin Kernan feels should be better remembered.
Kernan’s new book,
Four U.S. torpedo groups fought at Midway in 1942, writes Kernan. “They went in, separately, one squadron after another, on the morning of June 4, and in all, 51 planes tried to hit the Japanese ships with torpedoes that day. Only 7 landed back at base. This comes to an aircraft loss rate of over 86 percent. Out of 128 pilots and crew who were in the torpedo planes that day, 29 survived, and 99 died. And not one torpedo exploded against the hull of a Japanese ship.”
That record is, as Kernan says, “known and honored,” but his book assembles “all the pieces for the first time to reveal the total picture and expose the cover-up that concealed what actually happened.” This he does with eloquence and economy, telling a complex story with such clarity, verve, and brevity that you can easily read it in a single sitting—and almost certainly will.