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The Navy and Marine Corps' Desperate Defense of the Philippines
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781612510576
  • Binding: Hardcover & eBook
  • Era: World War II
  • Number of Pages: 384
  • Subject: History
  • Date Available: October 2011
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$32.95 List Price
$26.36 Member Price
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Full Description:

"2011 Arthur Goodzeit Book Award Winner"

as presented by the New York Military Affairs Symposium

As the only single-volume work to offer a full account of Navy and Marine Corps actions in the Philippines during World War II, this book provides a unique source of information on the early part of the war. It is filled with never-before-published details about the fighting, based on a rich collection of American and newly discovered Japanese sources, and includes a revealing discussion of the buildup of tensions between Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the Navy that continued for the remainder of the war. U.S. Army veteran and defense analyst John Gordon describes in considerable detail the unusual missions of the Navy and Marine Corps in the largely Army campaign, where sailors fought as infantrymen alongside their Marine comrades at Bataan and Corregidor, crews of Navy ships manned the Army's heavy coastal artillery weapons, and Navy submarines desperately tried to supply the men with food and ammunition. He also chronicles the last stand of the Navy's colorful China gunboats at Manila Bay.

The book gives the most detailed account ever published of the Japanese bombing of the Cavite Navy Yard outside Manila on the third day of the war, which was the worst damage inflicted on a U.S. Navy installation since the British burned the Washington Navy Yard in 1814. It also closely examines the surrender of the 4th Marines at Corregidor, the only time in history that the U.S. Marine Corps lost a regiment in combat. To provide readers with a Japanese perspective of the fighting, Gordon draws on the recently discovered diary of a leader of the Japanese amphibious assault force that fought against the Navy's provisional infantry battalion on southern Bataan, and he also makes full use of the U.S. ship logs and the 4th Marine unit diary that were evacuated from Manila Bay shortly before the U.S. forces surrendered.

John Gordon, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army with a PhD in public policy, is a senior defense analyst at a defense think tank, and has written widely on military subjects. A resident of Gainesville, VA, he also serves as an adjunct professor at George Mason University and Georgetown University.

  • Watch John Gordon's "Shifley Lecture" at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, 1 November 2013

~ Peek Inside the Book ~

Praise for Fighting for MacArthur

Fighting for MacArthur provides clear, readable coverage of a previously understudied aspect of the Philippines campaign.”

“[A] fine book.”

Naval Books of the Year column in Warship, 2013

“John Gordon compellingly presents the relatively neglected story of the role played by the navy and Marine Corps personnel in the defense of the Philippines… ‘A good read.’ “

The Historian, Vol. 75, No. 1

“This is an in-depth and informative look at an unknown aspect of World War II in the Pacific and an excellent addition to the literature of the war.”

The Past in Review

“Fighting for MacArthur has filled a gap in the historiography of the Second World War by focusing on the naval and marine contributions to this campaign. Gordon’s detailed analysis of these contributions and resulting conclusions will long stand as the definitive work for this aspect of the Philippine campaign.”

The Mariner’s Mirror, Summer 2012

“This book is excellent in many ways – it is heartbreakingly tragic, but carefully balanced and deeply researched. It combines personal stories of heroism, suffering and even flashes of humor, along with big-picture operational and strategic understanding of the campaign. It can be a slow read, simply because readers will be tempted to divert from the pages to look up some fascinating piece of equipment, event or location that Gordon describes.”

Defense Media Network, August 9, 2012

Fighting for MacArthur is an excellent book for those interested in the battle for the Philippines, and, perhaps even more importantly, the origins of the often toxic inter-service tensions that plagued the conduct of the Pacific War.”

Strategy Page

ell-researched and very readable work on a little-known aspect of the early months of the Pacific war.”

The Naval Review, August 2012

“Those with a particular interest in coast defense will be pleased to find so much of this book deals with the siege of Corregidor, and those familiar with the subject will find that the subject, to include the coast artillery, is treated with more accuracy than is usually the case. The author is a retired army officer, and this appears to be his first book, which makes his narrative skill all the more impressive. In addition, the m aps are sufficient in number and excellent in quality. This book makes a major contribution to our understanding of the fall of the Philippines, and of Corregidor in particular, and is an absolute must for anyone interested in this campaign. It is a first-rate book, very well written, and is highly recommended.”

The Coast Defense Journal, February 2012

“This is a book well worth reading…Gordon writes with great clarity and develops the story in an eminently readable style. This is a book that readers will find difficult to put down until they have finished it, despite knowing full well what the outcome will be. As an exceptionally well-crafted work of military history, this reviewer recommends it highly.”

Naval History Book Reviews, from eReview Newsletter, Naval Historical Foundation

“Lest we forget their story, John Gordon’s Fighting for MacArthur is an absolute must-read.”

Leatherneck, January 2012

“This is the keeper of this year’s crop, and proof there are still new stories to be told about that dangerous, desperate time. Gordon shows skill with describing the choreography of combat, and the balance of factual detail doesn’t overwhelm colorful anecdotes and streamlined storytelling.”

Honolulu Star-Advertiser, December 6, 2011

“Gordon’s effort makes for interesting, if provocative reading…All in all, a well-written great read for all armchair strategists who have lingering questions regarding the Navy’s role in the fall of the Philippines.”

Sea Classics, January 2012

“In this well-researched volume drawing on official and personal accounts, the author comprehensively covers the experiences of the Navy and Marine Corps in their supporting role under MacArthur to hold the Philippines during the ill-fated five-month campaign, December 8, 1941–May 6, 1942.”

—WILLIAM H. BARTSCH, author of December 8, 1941: MacArthur's Pearl Harbor

“John Gordon is a consummate soldier-scholar. In Fighting for MacArthur he combines his deep military knowledge with exhaustive research to write the definitive volume on U.S. Navy and Marine Corps actions in the desperate fight for the Philippines at the beginning of World War II. Most importantly, Gordon also shows how Gen. Douglas MacArthur created a climate of distrust between himself and senior U.S. Navy officers that deeply affected the ability of the United States to fight a joint war against the Japanese. It is a superb contribution to the scholarship on World War II and the U.S. military.”

COL. DAVID E. JOHNSON, USA (RET.), senior researcher at the RAND Corporation, adjunct professor at Georgetown University, and author of Fast Tanks and Heavy Bombers: Innovation in the U.S. Army, 1917–1945 and Learning Large Lessons: The Evolving Roles of Ground Power and Air Power in the Post–Cold War Era

“Long overdue, John Gordon’s study on the sailors and Marines who fought so valiantly in the early days of World War II is an apt tribute to these Americans who defiantly stood in the face of overwhelming odds. Today, few Americans know of their sacrifice or remember the names of individuals who fought so bravely. Now all will know the details that Gordon lays out so well, and the tragic story of the men who continued to battle the Japanese long after any hope of survival remained. Over the years, the saga of MacArthur and the Army has been enthusiastically told, but almost always without the role that the Navy and Marine Corps played in the fight to hold the Philippines. John Gordon has ‘righted the ship’ by providing this evenhanded volume, Fighting for MacArthur.”

—J. MICHAEL MILLER, Marine Corps archivist, author of From Shanghai to Corregidor: Marines in the Defense of the Philippines

Lieutenant Commander Forester served on active duty from 1955 to 1958.

More by this Author

"2011 Arthur Goodzeit Book Award Winner" as presented by the New York Military Affairs... Read More

Events and Conferences

Guest Lecturer & Book Signing
Noon, Security Studies Program, Mortara Bldg., Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service,... Read More
Radio Interview
8:25am Eastern, w/host Fred Snyder, WGET-AM Radio, Gettysburg, PA Read More
Guest Speaker & Book Signing
Noon, “Eight Bells Lecture Series,” Naval War College Museum, 686 Cushing Rd.,... Read More
Meet the Author & Book Signing
Noon-3:00pm, Nat'l. Museum of the Marine Corps, 18900 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Triangle, VA Read More
Customer Reviews
1 Review
Average Customer Reviews
5.00 Stars
The Rest of the Story
Monday, October 15, 2012
By: thepastinreview
Almost all of us know what ensued in the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. We also know that the Philippine Islands fell to the Japanese forces shortly thereafter, with General Douglas MacArthur skedaddling to Australia and the remaining survivors forced to endure the Bataan Death March. What most of us are unaware of is the role played by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps forces in the defense of the Philippines; we are mostly aware that the U.S. Army was the only force involved. Fighting for MacArthur is the only single volume account of the Navy and Marine Corps participation in the defense of the islands during the early days of the war in the Pacific. The book presents the story in chronological order, beginning with the situation of both of these services prior to the start of the conflict; specifically, the gunboats of the Asiatic Fleet and the China Marines, their evacuation to the Philippines and the fate of the Marines stationed in North China, many of whom were fated to spend the war in prison. Author Gordon offers a very vivid, detailed account describing the Japanese bombing of the Cavite Naval Yard on the third day of the war, the worst drubbing a U.S. Navy installation has ever taken. The book concludes with the final surrender and an enlightening discussion of what might have been done better throughout the entire campaign. Gordon uses a deep collection of United States source materials: letters, diaries and reports, as well as newly discovered Japanese sources, such as a diary of a Japanese officer in the assault force that landed on southern Bataan. Gordon, a former army officer, also discusses th4e problems that existed between Mac Arthur and the Navy, attitudes that never really changed. This is an in-depth and informative look at an unknown aspect of World War II in the Pacific and an excellent addition to the literature of the war.


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