Naval historian Vincent O'Hara recounts here the dramatic story of the U.S. Navy's surface fleet in World War II, especially its ship-to-ship combat. He suggests that the fleet's role in America's ultimate victory was far more crucial than commonly credited and holds many lessons for today's Navy and the nation as a whole. His work is the only single volume to treat every surface naval action involving major American warships, both famous and obscure. It places each action in its larger context to provide a valuable historical resource on how the Navy and its ships met the test of battle.
O'Hara refutes the widely held notion that the attack on Pearl Harbor rendered surface warfare obsolete. He offers readers details of U.S. naval actions barely mentioned in other histories to demonstrate how U.S. battleships, cruisers, and destroyers played a decisive role at critical junctures in the war and made significant contributions to the Allied victory. He also documents the performance of weapon systems, shows how doctrine developed, and examines the role played by new technologies. Numerous maps, tables, and charts enhance the text.
A cautionary tale relevant to today's Navy, this book illustrates how swift adaptability and intellectual honesty were fundamental to the Navy's success against Japan. Its underlying premise is that in a conflict against conventional or asymmetric enemies, the United States cannot assume to hold title to the same virtues demonstrated by its Navy three generations past. Instead, those lessons must be constantly studied and validated in the face of postwar mythologies, lest they be forgotten.
Vincent P. O'Hara,
a naval historian and researcher, is also the author of German Fleet at War, 1939-1945,
published by the Naval Institute Press in 2004. His work appears in many periodicals and annuals, including Warship, World War II Quarterly, MHQ, Storia Militare,
and World War II.
He lives in Chula Vista, California, with his wife and son.
"In this magnificent and meticulous work packed with fresh information and original insight, Vincent O'Hara dethrones the conventional wisdom that mastery of amphibious, carrier, and submarine warfare explains the U.S. Navy's triumph in World War II. He demonstrates with vividly rendered portraits of forty-nine encounters that U.S. surface combatants made at least an equal contribution. This is a must read on the Pacific War and the history of American naval operations." —Richard B. Frank, author of Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle
"The U.S. Navy Against the Axis is the sort of book that can wear a rut into your shelf as you grab for it time and again—a broad scope supported by details as seen by both sides. O'Hara succeeds not simply because he delves past the well known into the episodes that most accounts gloss over, but because he fixes them all into context with the U.S. Navy's total war effort." —Richard Worth, author of Fleets of World War II
"Masterfully combining detailed research with a gripping narrative, O'Hara has produced an essential volume for naval history enthusiasts." —Robert von Maier, editor, World War II Quarterly
"By meticulously examining every U.S. Navy surface action between 1942 and 1945, O'Hara calls attention to the relevant and vital contribution the surface force made to the final victory. His work is one of the most significant additions to the Navy's World War II historiography since Morison." —Karl Zingheim, director of history, USS Midway Museum
"O'Hara has written an indispensable, well-researched review of the surface Navy's bravery and decisive relevance, from the tragic martyring of the Asiatic Fleet to the climactic recapture of the Philippines." —James D. Hornfischer, author of Ship of Ghosts and The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors