The U.S. Navy in the Second World War fought in the Pacific two essentially distinct if closely interrelated kinds of war. One was the well-known fast fleet carrier war, fought by its famous large flat-deck aircraft carriers (the Essex-classes) and its lighter stand-ins (the Independence-class), led to glory by Admirals Halsey, McCain, and Mitscher. The other was the amphibious--or expeditionary--war, fought by almost unknown Admirals Turner, Wilkinson, and Barbey, along with the better-known Marines, especially at first. In these two kinds of war, campaign objectives, leadership mind-sets, and tools were-- had to be--different in each case. Echoes of these differences persist today, making another serious look at our Second World War experience worthwhile, especially in today's world.
The hazards inherent in these two kinds of war are markedly different. Supercarriers operating offshore work on an essentially plain table, as far as navigation goes. Not so the amphibians, who must beach to land their troops, and who therefore must move close inshore, to shallow, constricted waters, full of reefs and shoals. To the dangers of navigation must be added those of the enemy, in both situations. But many of the prospective enemies today cannot reach offshore. Inshore, mines appear and become a major threat. The book that follows is a close look at and analysis of the first of these lesser-known amphibious campaigns--the Solomons Campaign--fought early in World War II.