The best books about the Battle of Midway

The Books I Picked & Why

Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway

By Anthony Tully, Jonathan Parshall

Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway

Why this book?

Though it helps to have a grasp of the battle, Shattered Sword by Parshall and Tully is an absolute must read. Through detailed research including the study of primary source documents in Japanese archives and interviews with Japanese participants, Shattered Sword explores the decision-tree timeline of the battle from the Japanese side. The stirring survivor narratives and the insight into the doctrine of how Japan conducted carrier warfare is fascinating and much of it had been given short shrift by western accounts. Parshall and Tully did the work: their epic Shattered Sword is simply masterful.


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Pacific Payback: The Carrier Aviators Who Avenged Pearl Harbor at the Battle of Midway

By Stephen L. Moore

Pacific Payback: The Carrier Aviators Who Avenged Pearl Harbor at the Battle of Midway

Why this book?

It was the carrier-based dive-bombers that carried the day at Midway, and Moore’s narrative non-fiction account of the battle through the eyes of the actual men who fought at Midway in these dive-bombers is an entertaining and gripping page turner. You learn of their fears, the uncertainty, and of their humble courage. Moore brings you with them in their SBD Dauntless cockpits. These men were what the United States had at the onset of the Pacific War, and Moore’s tribute to them is moving.


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No Right To Win: A Continuing Dialogue with Veterans of the Battle of Midway

By Ronald Russell

No Right To Win: A Continuing Dialogue with Veterans of the Battle of Midway

Why this book?

Russell, moderator of the Battle of Midway Internet Round Table, goes further than Moore in that his interviews with the participants of the battle delve deeper into the Midway narrative and decision matrix. Up there alongside Parshall and Tully as the top experts on Midway, Russell through his first-hand accounts of Midway survivors – and their human perceptions - explores the controversies of Midway, such as the “Flight to Nowhere” and “eyewitness” testimony proved false by realities of geography and photographic evidence. No Right to Win is highly recommended for advanced students of the battle and is recommended for those who have a baseline knowledge of Midway lore.


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The Battle of Midway

By Craig L. Symonds

The Battle of Midway

Why this book?

Symonds, an esteemed naval historian, writes a superb non-fiction telling of the battle, from “big-picture” decision making from the admirals at Midway to cockpit scenes like Moore. It is readable for those with only a passing familiarity and of benefit to readers with a deeper knowledge. Leveraging the research of Parshall and Tully – as all modern commentators do - Symonds treats Midway evenly, and covers all aspects of the three-day Midway story, one more amazing than the next.


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A Dawn Like Thunder: The True Story of Torpedo Squadron Eight

By Robert J. Mrazek

A Dawn Like Thunder: The True Story of Torpedo Squadron Eight

Why this book?

The story of the ill-fated Torpedo Squadron Eight of USS Hornet – all planes lost and only one survivor out of 30 men - is the stuff of legend. In this essential non-fiction tome, Mrazek introduces the reader to these men and explores what made them tick. It is not always pleasant, and Mrazek pulls no punches as he delves into the human side of these flawed men, who in some cases did not like each other, which increases the empathy for the sacrifice of the squadron at Midway. The reader can imagine him or herself in a tight-knit squadron arguing and irritating one another as humans can do at times – before having to fly into combat in planes they knew were obsolete. While the human cost and poignant stories of loss are part of all Midway books, A Dawn Like Thunder lays it out the best.


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