Sea of Thunder
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 7 Mar 2011
Full Title: Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign 1941-1945
Sea of Thunder by Evan Thomas followed the war time careers of three admirals (William Halsey, Takeo Kurita, and Matome Ugaki) and one commander (Ernest Evans), and described how the major campaigns that the four participated in, whether combat or political, shaped the outcome of the war and their careers. He touched upon the cultural misunderstandings, family issues, personalities, and other topics about the four commanders and their surrounding figures, painting a landscape upon which a better understanding of the progression of the war could be established. As the war went on, the four men's paths converged off the coast of Samar in the Philippine Islands. Thomas had spent the bulk of his efforts in this battle, detailing the progression of this multi-stage Battle of Leyte Gulf all the way from the submarine attack at Palawan Passage to Kurita's retreat. The epilogue of the book was most interesting, as the author dove in further into how Halsey and Kurita's decisions off Samar, both of whom missed a chance at a grand victory, affected their thinking and personality after the war.
Although Thomas' did a fine job writing this book, both in the sense of research and writing, I thought the inclusion of Evans as one of the four men was somewhat odd; a lowly destroyer captain seemed not to fit well with the other three officers of admiral ranks, although Evans' bravery was by no means discounted by this opinion of mine.
I had reviewed this book via its audio book edition checked out from the local library. I thought George Wilson's reading was a bit awkward. At times, when he reached the end of a sentence, his tone did not indicate a definitive end, as if reaching a comma or a semi-colon, thus I was often surprised to hear fresh sentences after these occasions. Otherwise, he had done a fine job.
Although I cannot comfortably say that I am well-read in the Pacific War, I felt that I had come across other books on Leyte Gulf that were better, but this book was good as a biography of the four officers.
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Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan 1943