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Closing The Circle, A Book Review

Discussion in 'The Pacific and CBI' started by belasar, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Closing The Circle: War in the Pacific-1945, By Edwin P. Hoyt, Van Nosttrand Reinhold Co. Inc., 1982, 236 pages, Photo's, Notes and Index, Abe Books Used Under $4.00 BR-XV

    This one has been in my collection for nearly 30 years, but I have only just now got around to reading it :eek:

    Hoyt's book covers the last few weeks of the war starting with the change of command of the 5th Fleet to the 3rd Under Adm. Wm. "Bull" Halsey. He pursues diverse threads including the American and Japanese High Commands, Combat operations over and around Japan, the I-58 and the Uss Indianoplis and of course the Atomic Bombs. He attempts to show how each interrelate to one another and how each had an effect on the others.

    Hoyt takes a day by day, at times hour by hour aproach to telling his history. In the first half of the book to be honest I found this somewhat distracting for as in the same paragraph we start in Potsdam, move to Halsey's sea cabin, then to I-58's conning tower to finish in the Imperial Palace. By the second half I began to get into the swing of things and found it a bit more natural flowing.

    Hoyt brings an element of Humanity to his history, These are people locked into a death struggle, not the antiseptic movement of combat formations across an uncaring landscape. The best element of the book in my mind is the record of the US Fleet operations off Japan in the closing days of the war. Far too many histories of the period go straight from Okinawa to Hiroshima with nary a stop in between. Men, both Japanese and American, repeated put their lives on the line in the last conventional fighting before the advent of the Nuclear age, and deserve to have their stories told.

    Their have some impassioned threads on this forum on what actually compelled Japan to finally surrender, The Atomic Bombs, DoW by the USSR or was Japan truely ready to capitulate only needing assurances of the continueation of the Imperial system. Hoyt's book tends to confirm my personal belief that both the Atomic Bombs and the Soviet attack into Manchuria were needed to force the issue. Without them either a invasion or the death of millions of Japanese civilians by starvation would be the only things that could bring an end to the war.

    No book is perfect, and this one has it flaws as well. As mentioned above, I found his story telling style a little off putting at first. Also the Photo captions are rather generic and lack detail that would enhance their presentation. Most of all, however, is Hoyt's bias towards Halsey. He is rarely critical of his command decisions and goes far in bashing other allied commanders, espcially Spruance, to burnish his hero Halsey. I am fond of Halsey as well and think that in a straight up carrier duel he would be the best choice to command. But by the second half of the Pacific war Amphibious actions had taken the driver's seat from the struggle to win dominace over the IJN. Spruance's more conservative style was better insync with the needs of these operations and were clearly valued by Nimitz.

    On balance I will recomend this book to anyone with an interest in the last days of the Pacific war, especially if you can find it at your local library or used for a few dollars.

    What can I say I'm a cheap bugger. :)
     

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