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In many respects the Solomons campaign embodies the inflection point in the Second World War in the Pacific. With Japan’s offensive momentum disrupted by the battle of Midway, the two sides slugged it out in the southwest Pacific in late 1942 and early 1943 on nearly equal terms. Over time, though, the reversal of the experience gap and the growing impact of American industrial power combined to check Japanese plans in the region and begin the slow push towards their home islands.

Given the number of books that have already been written about this campaign, the question must be asked why another is needed. Jeffery Cox’s contribution possesses a number of merits. Foremost among them is the detailed reconstruction it provides of the oftentimes confused naval battles that took place around the islands. These descriptions inform Cox’s often pointed critiques of the people involved on both sides of the battle. In this respect Cox doesn’t leave the reader in any doubt as to what he thinks of his subjects and their responsibility for events.

Yet these assets don’t suffice to explain why Cox felt that another book was needed. His accounts of the battles draw heavily upon the many other works that have already been written about them. There is no original research and little effort to incorporate anything in the way of primary source records. It’s a classic case of an author who went into a room full of books and exited with one more. If Cox brought to that task an exceptional storytelling gift this might have offset this matter, but instead he often gets in the way of his own narrative with efforts at witty asides which typically fall flat. These detract from rather than add to his narrative efforts.

The result is a book that doesn’t really distinguish itself from the ones that preceded it. For anyone new to the subject it provides a useful survey of the naval clashes in the waters surrounding the Solomon Islands. But for those who have already read some of the other excellent works already available about the campaign Cox’s book contains nothing fresh or revelatory. In this respect it is less an addition to our knowledge than Cox’s explanation and commentary on it, one that does little more than provide a careful summary of the battles that defined the shift in Allied and Japanese fortunes in the war in the Pacific.
 
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MacDad | May 24, 2021 |
I would like to give this book a stronger recommendation, particularly since the author takes the Dutch position in this campaign more seriously then it normally is. That said, Cox also swings a big ax and, at times, his anger at the Japanese and Douglas MacArthur (to note the two biggest targets) overtakes the bounds of history and this book becomes a polemic; this is keeping in mind that I'd be the last to deny that are any number of events to be justly angry about. This is too bad, as this could have been the coherent popular account that the naval aspects of this campaign have lacked; Osprey did no favors to Cox in failing to moderate some of his rhetoric. I'm reminded by the tone of an old acquaintance who claimed to have lost several relations on the battleship "Arizona" at Pearl Harbor; "God forgives, I do not."½
 
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Shrike58 | 1 annan recension | Dec 21, 2014 |
An excellent account of little known details about the Java Sea Campaign in WWII, rich in seafaring nomenclature, naval strategy, opinions and praise for the unknown and known heroes of that time.
 
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mcdenis | 1 annan recension | Nov 6, 2014 |
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