Refighting the Pacific War

An Alternative History of World War II
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Published:September 15, 2011
By Jim Bresnahan (Editor)

Contributors to this alternative World War II history include the noted military historians William Bartsch, John Lundstrom, Douglas Smith, Barrett Tillman, and H. P. Willmott, among others. In a roundtable discussion format, more than thirty veterans and historians address "what if" questions about the war in the Pacific.

Refighting the Pacific War looks at how World War II in the Pacific might have unfolded differently, giving historians, authors, and veterans the opportunity to discuss what happened and what might have happened. Contributors to this alternative history include noted military historians William Bartsch, John Burton, Donald Goldstein, John Lundstrom, Robert Mrazek, Jon Parshall, Douglas Smith, Peter Smith, Barrett Tillman, Anthony Tully, and H. P. Willmott. In all more than thirty Pacific War experts provide commentary, employing a roundtable panel discussion format. The reader hears from the experts on how history could and could not have been altered during the course of the war in the Pacific. With multiple opinions, the reader is provided with an interesting collection of divergent views about the outcome of the war.

Refighting the Pacific War focuses largely on naval battles and campaigns, including Pearl Harbor, Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal, Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf. While the main concentration is on the major naval actions, the book also delves into key island battles, like Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, as well as pre-war and post-war political issues The panelists debate questions like whether the Japanese could have inflicted even greater damage on the U. S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor and how Yamamoto might have won at Midway and how such a victory might have impacted the direction of the war. The book extensively studies the opening year of the war when the Japanese war machine seemed unstoppable. Also explored is whether the Pacific War was inevitable and whether the conflict could have ended without the use of the atomic bomb. Vice Admiral Yoji Koda, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (Ret.), provides the book's Introduction.

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Product Details
  • Subject: World War II
  • Hardback : 288 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (September 15, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 159114079X
  • ISBN-13: 9781591140795
  • Product Dimensions: 6 X 9 in
  • Shipping Weight: 0 lb
  • “The most intriguing two words in the study of history are ‘what if?’ Nowhere is this truer than in military and naval history. Bresnahan has assembled a large group of experts on the war in the Pacific to field just that question for key points in that conflict. The resulting ‘informed speculation’ offers not only a great read, but is very valuable for a better understanding of the actual events themselves.” —John B. Lundstrom, author of Black Shoe Carrier Admiral: Frank Jack Fletcher at Coral Sea, Midway and Guadalcanal
  • “Initially skeptical, I found that the more I read the more I began to enjoy the contributors’ varying opinions, especially when they disagreed in their interpretations and answers. Many of the contributions are genuinely interesting and thought-provoking, and may inspire or challenge readers’ own opinions on key issues…The book has much in its favor, and is inexpensive enough to recommend to anyone wishing to extend their library of books on the war in the Pacific.” — Naval Books of the Year column in Warship, 2013
  • “An altogether enlightening fun read that supposes different beginnings and finales to many aspects of the prolonged near four-year battle to correct Japan’s often distorted vision of an Asian utopia…A great, very unusual read difficult to put down once started.” Sea Classics, June 2012
  • “Thought-provoking collection…” — Air and Space Magazine
  • "This volume — like all else produced by the Naval Institute Press—is excellently well-proofed, edited and printed....A worthy addition to the warrior’s bookshelf.” — Roanoke Times
  • “This book will fascinate and stimulate anyone interested in the Pacific War of 1941–1945. A wide range of authors—from well-known professional historians to participants in the fight—give close consideration to how crucial battles, and the war as a whole, might have turned out differently. Though some old-fashioned historians may cringe at ‘what-ifs,’ it is salutary for sailors and citizens to be reminded that choices made by human beings count for a lot in wartime.”—Bradford A. Lee, Philip A. Crowl Chair of Comparative Strategy, U.S. Naval War College
  • “This would make a stimulating reader for courses on World War II.” — The Journal of Military History
  • “In Refighting the Pacific War, editor Jim Bresnahan presents summaries of key events in the naval war, then poses ‘what if’ questions about each. These are followed by short, informative, and thought-provoking yet often contradictory answers by some of the three dozen naval historians assisting in this project. Scholars and students of the Pacific theater of World War II will find much in this book of interest and no doubt will want to own it for future reference.”—Spencer C. Tucker, editor of Naval Warfare: An International Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of World War II
  • “An extraordinary round table of essays by learned authors.” — The Midwest Book Review, Library Bookwatch
  • “The introduction by retired Vice Adm. Yoji Koda of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is well worth the price of the book. Seldom before, if ever, has the pre-World War II Japanese thinking, planning and equipping been so clearly and so well detailed.” — The Washington Times
  • “Jim Bresnahan’s book is a bold and refreshing alternative discussion by prominent Pacific War historians by the use of the spellbinding ‘what if?’ This volume is a terrific read and will have the ‘armchair historians’ and the casual reader furnished with a deeper understanding of the magnitude of the war in the Pacific with the extraordinary use of multiple perspectives and opinions.”—Daniel A. Martinez host of Discovery Channel's Unsolved History, co-author of Kimmel, Short & Pearl Harbor: The Final Report Revealed
  • “An outstanding approach that confounds expectations. Respected historians and veterans discuss how the Pacific War was fought through the lens of what might have happened. The result is a treasure chest of insights that shine new light on what really happened. This is an important and valuable work and a delight to read.”— Vincent P. O'Hara, author of Struggle for the Middle Sea: The Great Navies at War in the Mediterranean Theater, 1940–1945

Jim Bresnahan, a broadcast journalist, is also the author of Revisioning the Civil War: Historians on Counter-Factual Scenarios, a book that looks at how Civil War history might have been different and Play It Again: Baseball Experts on What Might Have Been, a book that focuses on how the history of baseball could have been changed.

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Customer Reviews

1 Review
Average Customer Reviews
5.00 Stars
"Careful speculation to satisfy the inquisitive reader"
Friday, November 4, 2011
By: Eric Smith - writer, reviewer & cartoonist for Proceedings & Naval History

Most of us just assume that the outcome of World War II was a sure thing, that a U.S. triumph over Japan and Nazi Germany was inevitable.

Not so. Historians and veterans of that era know that a fortunate combination of actions, command decisions and pure luck gave us victory after a four-year slog through Europe and the vast Pacific.

Author/editor Jim Bresnahan has pulled some of those veterans and historians together in this book to talk about what might have happened - and what might have gone wrong - in the war against Japan. The results are scary, to say the least.

If the Imperial Japanese Navy had thrown a third wave of planes against Pearl Harbor, if one defiant American pilot had not disobeyed his superior, if one admiral had been in command rather than another - the stories of the Day of Infamy, the decisive battle of Midway and several other actions would have ended differently.

This book is just as long as it needs to be, with enough information and careful speculation to satisfy the inquisitive reader, but not so much it becomes boring. All the contributors, whether they agree or disagree, get a chance to make their cases in answer to the editor's fascinating "what if?" questions.



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