Retribution, by Max Hastings

In the course of the war, Germany lost 781 submarines, Japan 128.  By contrast, the Japanese navy sank only 41 American submarines, 18 percent of those which saw combat duty.  Six more were lost accidentally on Pacific patrols.  Even these relatively modest casualties meant that 22 percent of all American sailors who experienced submarine operations perished — 375 officers and 3,131 enlisted men — the highest loss of any branch of the wartime U.S. armed forces.

The subtitle of this book is The Battle for Japan, 1944-45.  Have you ever wondered what kind of peace the Japanese expected (before losing), how the battle for the Philippines unfolded, why the Japanese treated their POWs so badly, or what it is like to be in a submarine surrounded by falling depth charges?

Every year there are five or six books that just wow me.  This is one of them.  It is as gripping as a first-rate novel and I learned something on almost every page.  Here is one review.  You can buy it here.


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