The most recommended Battle of Midway books

Who picked these books? Meet our 13 experts.

13 authors created a book list connected to the Battle of Midway, and here are their favorite Battle of Midway books.
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Book cover of Pacific Payback: The Carrier Aviators Who Avenged Pearl Harbor at the Battle of Midway

Kevin Miller Author Of The Silver Waterfall: A Novel of the Battle of Midway

From my list on The Battle of Midway and how it changed the course of WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired U.S. Navy carrier pilot, having flown the A-7 Corsair II and F/A-18 Hornet operationally, and formerly the Executive Vice President of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. Over 20 years I have spoken about the battle to diverse audiences, and my historical fiction novel The Silver Waterfall was written without changing any facts of the battle and features the real men who fought it. I am also the author of the Raven One trilogy of aircraft carrier techno-thrillers.

Kevin's book list on The Battle of Midway and how it changed the course of WW2

Kevin Miller Why did Kevin love 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.

By Stephen L. Moore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pacific Payback as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Deeply researched and well written....By far the most detailed account of USS Enterprise’s dive-bombers and their decisive role at the Battle of Midway.”*

Sunday, December 7, 1941, dawned clear and bright over the Pacific....

But for the Dauntless dive-bomber crews of the USS Enterprise returning to their home base on Oahu, it was a morning from hell. Flying directly into the Japanese ambush at Pearl Harbor, they lost a third of their squadron and witnessed the heart of America’s Navy broken and smoldering on the oil-slicked waters below.

The next six months, from Pearl Harbor to the Battle of Midway—a…


Book cover of Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II

Mark Ciampa Author Of Security Awareness: Applying Practical Security in Your World

From my list on how to break things (encryption, passwords, etc.).

Why am I passionate about this?

I have had the opportunity to write (I have written over 30 college textbooks on technology, most of them in the area of cybersecurity), study (my PhD dissertation was on cybersecurity), teach (I have taught at colleges and universities my entire career about technology, networking, and cybersecurity), and research (I have published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles) on the topic of cybersecurity. But I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the average computer user who struggles with how to protect their technology devices. This has helped drive my passion to focus on practical cybersecurity for everyone.

Mark's book list on how to break things (encryption, passwords, etc.)

Mark Ciampa Why did Mark love this book?

It is hard to underestimate the significance of code breaking during World War II. Without the work of dedicated mathematicians, linguists, and others the great conflicts such as the Battle of Midway and the German U-boat "wolfpacks" that sank over 13 million tons of Allied supplies could have easily been up for grabs. But due to the codebreakers the balance shifted to the Allies. And what is even equally impressive is that the Axis powers never knew that their encoded messages were being read. Stephen Budiansky traces how the codebreakers pulled off this feat while at the same time often battling within their own ranks about who should decode the message, how the messages should be used, and who should get the credit.

By Stephen Budiansky,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Battle of Wits as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Drawing from newly declassified documents, the author chronicles the story of codebreaking during the last world war, from cat-and-mouse games with Nazi U-boats to the invasion of Normandy.


Book cover of Pacific Crucible

Clifford A. Wright Author Of An Italian Feast: The Celebrated Provincial Cuisines of Italy from Como to Palermo

From Clifford's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Philosopher Historian Researcher Gastronomer Bibliophile and reviewer

Clifford's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Clifford A. Wright Why did Clifford love this book?

I enjoy a good war story. However, telling the story of the Pacific War seemed daunting to me because of its vastness.

I found Ian Toll, in this first of his trilogy, enlivens the Battle of Midway, Coral Sea, Saipan, Leyte Gulf, Tarawa, and the others with electric excitement and clarity. I knew that Japan's two-generation rise from feudal and pre-industrial origins to the status of a major economic and military power was more than remarkable it was unprecedented in the entire course of human history.

Japanese hubris led to the attack on Pearl Harbor battling the “sleeping giant” of America for almost 4 years. Toll, avoiding the drudgery of reading about battles, tells the story with such mastery I felt I could relate the story myself. 

By Ian W. Toll,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Pacific Crucible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the first Sunday in December 1941, an armada of Japanese warplanes appeared suddenly over Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and devastated the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Six months later, in a sea fight north of the tiny atoll of Midway, four Japanese aircraft carriers were sent into the abyss. Pacific Crucible tells the epic tale of these first searing months of the Pacific war, when the U.S. Navy shook off the worst defeat in American military history and seized the strategic initiative.

Ian W. Toll's dramatic narrative encompasses both the high command and the "sailor's-eye" view from the lower deck. Relying predominantly…


Book cover of Never Call Me a Hero: A Legendary American Dive-Bomber Pilot Remembers the Battle of Midway

Robert O. Harder Author Of First Crossing: The 1919 Trans-Atlantic Flight of Alcock and Brown

From my list on aviation history from a triple-rated pilot.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was old enough to get around under my own power, I wanted to be a pilot, a result of idol-worshiping my mother’s brother, Orvis M. Nelson, president of Transocean Airlines. His influence led to my being named a Distinguished Military Graduate in Air Force ROTC, navigator school (sadly, my eyes were slightly myopic), bombardier school (145 Vietnam War combat missions); then later a civilian private & commercial pilot with instrument and multi-engine ratings, and Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI). After settling for a business career rather than airline pilot, I now vicariously pursue my first love through writing.

Robert's book list on aviation history from a triple-rated pilot

Robert O. Harder Why did Robert love this book?

I was so taken by this book, I re-read it two weeks later. Dusty’s story (you’ll love how he got the nickname!) is ably guided by Naval historians Timothy and Laura Orr. The result is as smooth and intimate an aviator autobiography as you’re likely to read. 

Although humble and deeply religious, retired U.S. Navy Captain and Navy Cross winner Jack Kleiss was daring even as a boy, seldom turning down a dare. Which explains a lot as to his willingness to push over a SBD Dauntless dive-bomber into a terrifying vertical dive from 20,000 feet, before pulling at near wave-top level. During the 1942 Battle of Midway, Dusty scored massive hits on three enemy ships (two of them aircraft carriers), the only man to do so. Despite the title’s disclaimer, Captain Kleiss was indeed a hero.

By N. Jack "Dusty" Kleiss, Timothy Orr, Laura Orr

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Never Call Me a Hero as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hailed as "the single most effective pilot at Midway" (World War II magazine), Dusty Kleiss struck and sank three Japanese warships at the Battle of Midway, including two aircraft carriers, helping turn the tide of the Second World War. This is his extraordinary memoir.

NATIONAL BESTSELLER * "AN INSTANT CLASSIC" -Dallas Morning News

On the morning of June 4, 1942, high above the tiny Pacific atoll of Midway, Lt. (j.g.) "Dusty" Kleiss burst out of the clouds and piloted his SBD Dauntless into a near-vertical dive aimed at the heart of Japan's Imperial Navy, which six months earlier had ruthlessly…


Book cover of Incredible Victory: The Battle of Midway

Constantine Pleshakov Author Of The Tsar's Last Armada: The Epic Journey to the Battle of Tsushima

From my list on epic naval battles of the 20th century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in the town of Yalta on the Black Sea. The sea had gotten its name because of its bad temper–storms, squalls, fogs. Warships never docked in Yalta, but passenger ships did. If the ship was a regular (and many were because people still used them to get from point A to point B), we recognized it by the sound of its horn. When passing by, the warships gave us a wide berth–dim silhouettes on the horizon on an unknown mission. I left Crimea for good many years ago, but I am still a sucker for bad-tempered seas and secretive navies.

Constantine's book list on epic naval battles of the 20th century

Constantine Pleshakov Why did Constantine love this book?

This book demystified the aircraft carrier for me. I still love it when, in a thriller movie, POTUS frowns and asks the national security advisor, “Where are our aircraft carriers at the moment?” But Walter Lord persuaded me that our biggest warships are simply moveable airfields. 

By Walter Lord,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Incredible Victory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A remarkable account of what has been called 'the most decisive naval battle since Trafalgar.'―Los Angeles Times


Book cover of The Price of Admiralty: The Evolution of Naval Warfare

C.W. Lovatt Author Of Yuri & the Pig

From C.W.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Writer Humorist Historian

C.W.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

C.W. Lovatt Why did C.W. love this book?

I love history, but I will rarely read historical non-fiction because they’re usually so dry and don’t often delve into the lives of those caught up in the events being described.

With Keegan I’ll make an exception. He’s one of the most brilliant historians of our time and his narrative of three major naval battles is second to none. The accuracy of what he relates is beyond question, and his descriptive prose catches you up in the heat of battle as well as any writer I’ve ever read.

By John Keegan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Price of Admiralty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Military historian John Keegan's gripping history of naval warfare's evolution.

In The Price of Admirality, leading military historian John Keegan illuminates the history of naval combat by expertly dissecting four landmark sea battles, each featuring a different type of warship: the Battle of Trafalgar, the Battle of Jutland in World War I, the Battle of Midway in World War II, and the long and arduous Battle of the Atlantic.

"The best military historian of our generation."-Tom Clancy

"The Price of Admirality stands alongside Mr. Keegan's earlier works in its power to impart both the big and little pictures of war."-The…


Book cover of Typhoon: The Other Enemy: The Third Fleet and the Pacific Storm of December 1944

Joy Neal Kidney Author Of Leora's Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II

From my list on surprising and compelling WWII stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of two books (the second is Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression), a blogger, Iowa historian, and a regular contributor to Our American Stories. I’ve woven WII letters and newspaper clippings, along with memoirs and family stories, into the narrative. As Clabe and Leora Wilson’s oldest granddaughter, I also enjoy giving programs about the Wilson family, as well as TV and radio interviews.

Joy's book list on surprising and compelling WWII stories

Joy Neal Kidney Why did Joy love this book?

My uncle, a survivor of the sinking of the USS Yorktown (CV-5) at the Battle of Midway and months of combat (including kamikazes) as CEM of the USS Hancock (CV-19), referred me to this book about another terror they encountered while in combat aboard the Hancock. Strikes were canceled due to the severe typhoon. At the height of the storm, waves broke over the carrier’s flight deck, fifty-five feet above the waterline.

As commanding officer of a ship that came close to destruction in the typhoon of December 1944, the author of this book, Captain C. Raymond Calhoun, was in an unparalleled position to document a tragic ordeal that claimed 778 men, 3 destroyers, and more than 100 aircraft. This compelling account details for the first time the events surrounding the storm, as well as the controversial aftermath.

Divided into four parts--Prelude to a Typhoon, The Struggle for Survival,…

By Captain C. Raymond Calhoun,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Typhoon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by C. Raymond Calhoun


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

Kevin Miller Author Of The Silver Waterfall: A Novel of the Battle of Midway

From my list on The Battle of Midway and how it changed the course of WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired U.S. Navy carrier pilot, having flown the A-7 Corsair II and F/A-18 Hornet operationally, and formerly the Executive Vice President of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. Over 20 years I have spoken about the battle to diverse audiences, and my historical fiction novel The Silver Waterfall was written without changing any facts of the battle and features the real men who fought it. I am also the author of the Raven One trilogy of aircraft carrier techno-thrillers.

Kevin's book list on The Battle of Midway and how it changed the course of WW2

Kevin Miller Why did Kevin love 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.

By Robert J. Mrazek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Dawn Like Thunder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the great untold stories of World War II finally comes to light in this thrilling account of Torpedo Squadron Eight and their heroic efforts in helping an outmatched U.S. fleet win critical victories at Midway and Guadalcanal.

Thirty-five American men -- many flying outmoded aircraft -- changed the course of the war, going on to become the war's most decorated naval air squadron, while suffering the heaviest losses in U.S. naval aviation history.

Mrazek paints moving portraits of the men in the squadron, and exposes a shocking cover-up that cost many lives. Filled with thrilling scenes of battle,…


Book cover of The Battle of Midway

Mark Ciampa Author Of Security Awareness: Applying Practical Security in Your World

From my list on how to break things (encryption, passwords, etc.).

Why am I passionate about this?

I have had the opportunity to write (I have written over 30 college textbooks on technology, most of them in the area of cybersecurity), study (my PhD dissertation was on cybersecurity), teach (I have taught at colleges and universities my entire career about technology, networking, and cybersecurity), and research (I have published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles) on the topic of cybersecurity. But I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the average computer user who struggles with how to protect their technology devices. This has helped drive my passion to focus on practical cybersecurity for everyone.

Mark's book list on how to break things (encryption, passwords, etc.)

Mark Ciampa Why did Mark love this book?

Perhaps the best book on the epic World War II Battle of Midway, Craig Symonds brings together all the pieces that became the turning point in the Pacific War. Looking at the leadup to the battle from both the Japanese and American perspectives, Symonds shows how the Japanese, in their typical style, created a battle plan that was overly complicated for its objective. Symonds explains how American Joe Rochefort and his eclectic band (he even had commissioned naval musicians) worked to bend (but not entirely break) the Japanese naval code. This allowed the Allies to surmise Midway as the Japanese target and set in place their own battle plan. Symonds clearly explains how the codebreaking efforts played a huge role in this battle of battles.

By Craig L. Symonds,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Battle of Midway as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There are few moments in American history in which the course of events tipped so suddenly and so dramatically as at the Battle of Midway. At dawn of June 4, 1942, a rampaging Japanese navy ruled the Pacific. By sunset, their vaunted carrier force (the Kido Butai) had been sunk and their grip on the Pacific had been loosened forever.

In this riveting account of a key moment in the history of World War II, one of America's leading naval historians, Craig L. Symonds, paints an unforgettable portrait of ingenuity, courage, and sacrifice. Symonds begins with the arrival of Admiral…


Book cover of Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway

Barrett Tillman Author Of When the Shooting Stopped: August 1945

From my list on WWII aircraft carrier operations in the Pacific.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like all Boomers, I grew up in the shadow of “The War.” My parents, relatives, and others participated in World War II to various extents; all were affected by it. Therefore, I absorbed the Pacific Theater early on. My father trained as a naval aviator, and among my early TV memories is the 1950s series Victory at Sea. My mother coaxed me early on, and an aunt was an English teacher, so I began learning to read before kindergarten. In retrospect, that gave me extra time to start absorbing the emerging literature. Much later I helped restore and flew WW II aircraft, leading to my first book.

Barrett's book list on WWII aircraft carrier operations in the Pacific

Barrett Tillman Why did Barrett love this book?

Shattered Sword is proof that history is a journey rather than a destination. When published in 2005, Parshall and Tully set a milepost on the then-six-decade road to understanding the pivotal June 1942 battle.  

Aside from correcting “settled facts” about the battle, the authors added depth with detailed examinations of rare subjects.  Among other things, how the Imperial Navy managed its flight and hangar decks; how the combat air patrols were cycled. What some readers might consider “nuts and bolts” provide revelations to those seeking deeper knowledge, especially for relevant individuals and Japanese culture.

By Anthony Tully, Jonathan Parshall,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Shattered Sword as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Many consider the Battle of Midway to have turned the tide of the Pacific War. It is without question one of the most famous battles in history. Now, for the first time since Gordon W. Prange's bestselling Miracle at Midway, Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully offer a new interpretation of this great naval engagement.

Unlike previous accounts, Shattered Sword makes extensive use of Japanese primary sources. It also corrects the many errors of Mitsuo Fuchida's Midway: The Battle That Doomed Japan, an uncritical reliance upon which has tainted every previous Western account. It thus forces a major, potentially controversial reevaluation…