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Published:March 15, 2008
By E. B. Potter (Editor)

Called a great book worthy of a great man, this definitive biography of the commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet in World War II, first published in 1976 and now available in paperback for the first time, continues to be considered the best book ever written about Adm. Chester W. Nimitz. Highly respected by both the civilian and naval communities, Nimitz was sometimes overshadowed by more colorful warriors in the Pacific such as MacArthur and Halsey. Potter's lively and authoritative style fleshes out Admiral Nimitz's personality to help readers appreciate the contributions he made as the principal architect of Japan's defeat. Following the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, President Roosevelt named Nimitz as commander of the Pacific Fleet.

An experienced and respected leader, Nimitz was also an effective military strategist who directed U.S. forces as they closed in on Japan, beginning in May and June of 1942 with the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway. Nimitz was promoted to the newly-created rank of fleet admiral in 1944 and became the naval equivalent to the army's General Dwight Eisenhower. The book covers his full life, from a poverty-stricken childhood to postwar appointments as Chief of Naval Operations and U.N. mediator. It candidly reveals Nimitz's opinions of Halsey, Kimmel, King, Spruance, MacArthur, Forrestal, Roosevelt, and Truman.

List Price: $29.95
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Product Details
  • Paperback : 544 pages
  • Illustrations: 18 b/w photos; 26 maps
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (March 15, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1591145805
  • ISBN-13: 9781591145806
  • Product Dimensions: 7 X 10 in
  • Shipping Weight: 34.24 oz

The late E.B. Potter, a longtime history professor at the U.S. Naval Academy and former naval officer who served in the Pacific during World War II, is the author of several books, including Nimitz, Admiral Arleigh Burke, and Sea Power: A Naval History, which he wrote with Admiral Nimitz.

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Customer Reviews

2 Reviews
Average Customer Reviews
5.00 Stars
Friday, February 20, 2015
By: Rick Barber
Excellent biography -- after reading this book you will feel as though you knew the man personally. If the WW-II Pacific theater is one of your historical interests, then this particular admiral (more than any other individual) was at the very heart of those events.
Thursday, May 12, 2016
By: Gene Foss
Upon the death of her husband, Catherine Nimitz stated "...he has just gone to sea ...". This statement adequately sums ups Potter's book about Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. Potter gives a thorough account of Nimitz's youth in rural Texas, referring back to this upbringing by pointing out how those experiecnes influenced Nimitz over & over. Potter then takes one through Nimitz's Naval Academy experiences and its setting the course for Nimitz's life. He then traces Nimitz's life of as Naval Officer & his rise to fleet command. Obviously his Pacific years are the heart of the book. Nimitz commanded the biggest military in the widest front ever known in warfare. Potter deals with the subhuman job Nimitz did to keep above the inter-branch scrabbles, the hurtful edicts from Washington City, and how to get along with a self made god, MacArthur. As a reader I was impressed with two points of the book. First, the thoroughness Potter gives of the war, battle by battle, point by point. How each battle was set up, how it was fought, & what were the results. Potter also brings the Japanese side in, interjecting their experiences into the facts. Second, the best part of the book to me, was Potter's detailing how Nimitz dealt with the people, from the blue-jacket to the President. One can learn so much about each in this book. Some of the many stars of the book were: *Catherine Nimitz: Comes across as the model Navy wife. She was totally behind her husband making it possible for him to be the kind of Officer she had in mind. She gets an A+. *Gen. Robert Eichelberger: Actuality, a negative for Potter here. Another WWII Pacific theater book that records this General's armies fighting without mentioning this terrific general. *James Fletcher: Potter allows a favorable account of this Admiral by giving Nimitz at the front insights rather than those from Washington City, where King & Knox were. Eventually Nimitz had to let him go. *James Forrestal: Potter details Nimitz's being appointed CNO. Through this he came into the favor of the Sec. Potter points out where Nimitz influenced Forrestal concerning Navy policy. *William Halsey: Nimitz considered him his top fighter. Potter; although very fair to Halsey's early war successes; points out where & why Halsey blew it, to the point of showing the Bull should have been fired. Potter makes points showing if Halsey had been in command of these battles instead of the cautious as Spruance, the results could have then been very negative. *Husband Kimmel: Potter's account is Nimitz felt it could have been anybody. *Ernest King: After the Admiral Nimitz & his wife, King is the star of the book. Detailed study into Kings role with the chief's of staff, his support for Nimitz, and his understanding of the need for the Central commands push to Japan. King comes across as being more than capable to support Nimitz's cause before Marshall & Knox. If their had been a lesser man then MacArthur & Marshall would have ran all over the Navy. But King was more than able to hold them off. *George Marshall: References to him in the book show he really didn't understand what the navy & marines were achieving in the Pacific. Probably reading to many of Sutherland's reports triumphing the Caesar. It never seems to occur to the General that the reason MacArthur could have such low casualty reports is because the navy had sunk the Japanese support, shot down their air cover, and captured their airstrips. Thankfully this guy was busy in Europe. *Holland Smith: Potter was fair. Shows the Generals successes & failures. *Raymond Sprunce: Potter leaves the reader with nothing but praise for this man. *Kelly Turner: One of the few books that presents some of Turner's actions positively. One things for sure, this Admiral had no patience for the armies slow frontal attack methods. *Archer Vandegrift: Not sure why this General did not have more influence in the pacific. Potter's account of Vandegrift's understanding of the need to use 2nd Marine Division on Okinawa would have saved lives. But the army got it their way, & the 10th army took a month to crack the enemy's defenses. *USS Washington: Another Pacific book that doesn't demonstrate the fact that it was the Washington that steamed the most miles, was in the theater the longest, in the most battles, & had a real war record while being shunned by the brass. These are a small sampling of the many characters in the life of Chester Nimitz & the war in the Pacific. This book is loaded with many more. Potter does show two negatives about Nimitz. First, he would sensor reports and only release what he deemed appropriate. That was not his job. He should have just forwarded those that He didn't want released to the Navy dept. It was their job what to deal with them. Not his to change. And second,as usual when dealing with the successful men at at the top, Nimitz gave in when he shouldn't have. Okinawa is an example. Gen. Vandegrift was right. But Nimitz to keep inter-service corporation intact didn't make a stand with General Buckner. This lead to time consuming tactics which exposed Nimitz's fleet unnecessarily to repeated kamikaze attack, to the needless shedding of American blood, and to a total waste of the tax payers investment in training & fielding the Second Marine. If you were not going to use them just so the army can take credit for the victory, then discharge them & send them home. Several times Nimitz should have said 'because I say so', and let the two big bad Generals (MacArthur & Marshall) do as they please. But having stated that, Potter makes the case that by not doing so was Nimitz's greatest strength. Loved the book. Truly a great read. Recommend to one & all. A+


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