Review of the The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest HourThe Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy’s Finest Hour by James D. Hornfischer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Halsey acted foolishly.

Thus says Captain Marko Ramius of the Soviet Navy ship Red October played by the venerable Sean Connery in the movie The Hunt for Red October. (Have to say that line like a Scotsman pretending to be a Lithuanian.) This fictitious captain seems to have summed up the prevailing sentiments with the benefit of perfect hindsight and reading all the documents available.

But as the author James Hornfischer explains with much more detail about what Halsey knew that day on October 23 when the first Japanese bomber attacked his force all the while as his Third Fleet and Kinkaid’s Seventh Fleet prepared to liberate the Philippines, the story is much more richer, and much more complicated.

I enjoyed the book spends so much more effort and time on the men who actually fought the battle – the courageous men of Taffy 3. The story is told from the flag bridge of Rear Admiral Sprague down to the radiomen and machinist’s mates on the destroyers that charged the Japanese line that were 30 times their weight and firepower. This is a story of courage, determination, and sacrifice trying to survive the battle afterward in the waters off Samar island.

I actually picked this book up in 2008 while I was housesitting for a friend in China. This book was bookmarked in several pages. Turns out this friend’s father was one of the participants in the battle and the bookmarks and highlights marked where his father was mentioned. Seventy years has passed since the battle and both my friend and his father are now dead. It is a great way to remember.

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One thought on “Review of the The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors

  1. Two weeks ago I bought a huge box of WWII letters from an estate sale. Full of treasured memories, news clippings, and exchanges from people who grew up in my hometown is priceless. Planning on putting a book together,

    The Civil War and Lincoln are definitely my passion, but I have been reading many books on the 2nd world war to make sure I can present this information I now have in an honest, factual manner.

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