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The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors


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About the Author

JAMES D. HORNFISCHER is a writer, literary agent, and former book editor. He is the author of The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors and Ship of Ghosts, both widely acclaimed accounts of the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during World War II.


This is a magnificent, appalling look at the sea battle off Samar in the Philippines in October 1944 in which a small U.S. force of destroyers and escort carriers faced an overwhelmingly superior Japanese fleet. The Japanese, having gulled Admiral "Bull" Halsey with a diversion that led Halsey's fleet several hundred miles away, sailed from the south and north, intending to destroy Gen. Douglas MacArthur's troop transports in the Leyte Gulf before the Americans could liberate the Philippines. Hornfischer succeeds with a forward-rushing, novel-like, can't-put-it-down style while capturing both the historical and physical milieus and the characters of men in desperate crisis. This work spares no detail: men blown apart, in the water surrounded by sharks, eviscerated, in agony, dying. The book is enhanced by the cadences of one of the greatest audio performers of our day. Barrett Whitener's breathy baritone quivers with suppressed excitement and carries the listener along. Very highly recommended for history collections in public and academic libraries.-Don Wismer, Cary Memorial Lib., Wayne, ME Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"One of the finest WWII naval action narratives in recent years, this book follows in the footsteps of Flags of Our Fathers. . . . Exalting American sailors and pilots as they richly deserve. . . . Reads like a very good action novel."-Publishers Weekly

"Reads as fresh as tomorrow's headlines. . . . Hornfischer's captivating narrative uses previously classified documents to reconstruct the epic battle and eyewitness accounts to bring the officers and sailors to life."-Texas Monthly

"Hornfischer is a powerful stylist whose explanations are clear as well as memorable. . . . A dire survival-at-sea saga."-Denver Post

"In The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, James Hornfischer drops you right into the middle of this raging battle, with 5-inch guns blazing, torpedoes detonating and Navy fliers dive-bombing. . . . The overall story of the battle is one of American guts, glory and heroic sacrifice."-Omaha World Herald

One of the finest WWII naval action narratives in recent years, this book follows in the footsteps of Flags of Our Fathers, creating a microcosm of the war's American Navy destroyers. Hornfischer, a writer and literary agent in Austin, Tex., covers the battle off Samar, the Philippines, in October 1944, in which a force of American escort carriers and destroyers fought off a Japanese force many times its strength, and the larger battle of Leyte Gulf, the opening of the American liberation of the Philippines, which might have suffered a major setback if the Japanese had attacked the transports. He presents the men who crewed the destroyer Taffy 3, most of whom had never seen salt water before the war but who fought, flew, kept the crippled ship afloat, and doomed ships fighting almost literally to the last shell. Finally, Hornfischer provides a perspective on the Japanese approach to the battle, somewhat (and justifiably) modifying the traditional view of the Japanese Admiral Kurita as a fumbler or even a coward-while exalting American sailors and pilots as they richly deserve. (American admirals don't get off so easily.) Not entirely free of glitches in research, the book still reads like a very good action novel, indicated by its selection as a dual split main selection of the BOMC and History Book Club alternate. (Feb. 3) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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