Joe Rochefort’s War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamato at Midway
Elliot Carlson. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2011. 616 pp. Illus. Maps. Notes. Bibliog. $36.95.
Reviewed by Ian W. Toll
To Joe Rochefort “must forever go the acclaim for having made more difference, at a more important time, than any other naval officer in history.” That was the verdict of Edward L. Beach in The United States Navy: A 200-Year History (Houghton-Mifflin, 1986). Yet surprisingly, no book-length biography of Rochefort has ever appeared, until now. Joe Rochefort’s War will be required reading for Pacific war scholars for decades to come.
As chief of Pearl Harbor’s Combat Intelligence Unit (better known as Station Hypo), Rochefort gave Admiral Chester Nimitz a detailed and accurate forecast of Japan’s Midway offensive. With that invaluable knowledge, Nimitz set up an ambush of Japanese carriers as they approached the atoll on 4 June 1942. By the following morning, all four of the enemy flattops had been sent into the abyss.