Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval
by Evan Thomas
List Price: $27.00
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publish Date: November 7, 2006
New in Print
Evan Thomas takes us inside the naval war of 1941-1945 in the South Pacific in
a way that blends the best of military and cultural history and riveting
narrative drama. He follows four men throughout: Admiral William ("Bull")
Halsey, the macho, gallant, racist American fleet commander; Admiral Takeo
Kurita, the Japanese battleship commander charged with making what was, in
essence, a suicidal fleet attack against the American invasion of the
Philippines; Admiral Matome Ugaki, a self-styled samurai who was the commander
of all kamikazes and himself the last kamikaze of the war; and Commander Ernest
Evans, a Cherokee Indian and Annapolis graduate who led his destroyer on the
last great charge in the last great naval battle in history.
Sea of Thunder climaxes with the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the biggest naval
battle ever fought, over four bloody and harrowing days in October 1944. We see
Halsey make an epic blunder just as he reaches for true glory; we see the
Japanese navy literally sailing in circles, torn between the desire to die
heroically and the exhausted, unacceptable realization that death is futile; we
sail with Commander Evans and the men of the USS Johnston into the jaws
of the Japanese fleet and exult and suffer with them as they torpedo a cruiser,
bluff and confuse the enemy -- and then, their ship sunk, endure fifty horrific
hours in shark-infested water.
Thomas, a journalist and historian, traveled to Japan, where he interviewed
veterans of the Imperial Japanese Navy who survived the Battle of Leyte Gulf
and friends and family of the two Japanese admirals. From new documents and
interviews, he was able to piece together and answer mysteries about the Battle
of Leyte Gulf that have puzzled historians for decades. He writes with a
knowing feel for the clash of cultures.
Sea of Thunder is a taut, fast-paced, suspenseful narrative of the last
great naval war, an important contribution to the history of the Second World
"The incomparable Evan Thomas has done it again. World War II in the Pacific
has never gotten the attention it deserves, and Sea of Thunder helps to
restore the balance."
-- Michael Beschloss, author of The Conquerors
"A riveting tale of character and war by one of our most graceful writers.
With impressive scholarship and a brilliant eye for detail, Evan Thomas tells
the extraordinary story of Leyte Gulf without ever losing sight of the men in
-- Rick Atkinson, author of An Army at Dawn
"Sea of Thunder is an extraordinary book. Evan Thomas's dig into
recent Japanese writing on the war, and his personal investigations among the
survivors, turned up historian's gold. His Japanese leaders appear not unlike
ourselves, behind the mask of an alien old culture. The portrait of Kurita, the
controversial Japanese commander at Leyte Gulf, is novel, convincing, and
-- Herman Wouk, author of The Winds of War and War and Remembrance
"This is a wonderful book; thoughtful and riveting all at the same time,
and it's good history -- you're never quite sure things are going to
turn out the way you know they did!"
-- Ken Burns, Filmmaker, The War
"Sensational, riveting history, plus a brilliant penetrating study of both
the American and Japanese military minds. Sea of Thunder is full of
psychological insight that will leave your jaw dropping."
-- Bob Woodward, author of Plan of Attack
"Whenever Evan Thomas turns on his smarts and energy, history makes more
sense. Here he looks at the Pacific War from Guadalcanal to Tokyo Harbor and
brings his vivid insights to the world's greatest naval campaign."
-- Ben Bradlee, former editor, The Washington Post, naval officer, the
South Pacific, 1942-45