Clash of the Carriers

Author Barett Tillman
Publisher New American Library
ISBN 0-451-21670-9
Reviewed By Guest Reviewer Andrew Nguyen
Review Date 17 Jul 2009

The battle of the Philippine Sea was one of the last carrier battles of World War II and perhaps now with the inevitable advances of technology is one of the last in history. In addition, despite the fact that the Imperial Japanese Navy was outmatched, it was still a pivotal battle as it had several important results. The battle helped break the inner Japanese defense lines, crippled the main Japanese carrier force and finally brought the war home to Japan as it was now truly in range of American land-based bombers, which was the B-29 Superfortress in this case.

After a foreword by famed author Stephen Coonts and prologue section in which the author of the book talks about the scale and impact of the battle, the story gets underway with a lead-up to the battle from the point of view of both sides. The focus of the early chapters was to detail the increasing strength of the US and the gradual weakening of the Imperial Japanese Navy ever since the early years of the Pacific War. In addition, the early chapters highlighted the personalities of the main commanders as well as a good portion of their subordinates and what they brought to their respective fleets.

Next, the battle of the Philippine Sea plays out to the conclusion as the Japanese carriers attempted to smash the American invasion of Saipan. After two days of slaughter, the Americans soundly defeated the Japanese although the conduct of the American commanders during the battle has come into question. Mostly in the book, the author gives information to support the actions of Admiral Raymond Spruance, the overall US field fleet commander.

After the battle heads to its conclusion, the author talks about the aftermath of the battle and the fate of the combatants, both humans and ships and that of the battlefield itself. At the end of the book is an appendix of details that dealt with the battle and finally finished off with the research notes that Tillman gathered in order to write this book.

For those that want to get the most up to date details on the Battle of the Philippine Sea, "Clash of the Carriers" does its jobs exceptionally well and it does give the story of the battle a human face on both sides of the battle zone.

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