Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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p. vii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xiv

Americans know well the pictures of their country’s air war in the Pacific, from the battleship Arizona billowing smoke caused by a Japanese bomber’s hit and settling to the bottom of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, to the mushroom cloud rising over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Between these two events, many know the map like the back of their hand: the enemy’s opening...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xvi

Pacific Skies is a book not of maps or pictures but of words. My research into the narrative methods by which participants in the air battles of World War II’s Pacific theater have told their stories would not have been possible without the help of speciality book dealers around the world, whose stocks have covered the sixty-year history of this literature—a literature still being written...

Abbreviations

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pp. xvii-xxii

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INTRODUCTION: A World Away from War

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pp. 3-32

What American air power would accomplish in the Pacific during World War II was, in the late 1930s, almost completely unimaginable. That the German Luftwaffe and British Royal Air Force would soon be fighting it out in the skies over Europe was no useful measure: that conflict, begun with dogfights and sustained with high-level bombing, used tactics and strategies that...

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GOING TO WAR IN PEACETIME

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pp. 33-77

It seems incomprehensible that World War II could have started any other way. Certainly from America’s standpoint, the war already under way in Europe had all the hallmarks of a distinctly European affair. Take the belligerents: England, France, Germany, and Italy had been at each other’s throats for over six hundred years. This present conflict had grown from troubles...

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AN AIR WAR AT SEA AND ON LAND

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pp. 78-121

The Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, flown on April 18, 1942, stands as America’s first offensive action of World War II. The Battle of Midway, fought between June 4 and June 6 of the same year, is considered the first major victory by U.S. forces in the war, the Coral Sea Battle of a month before coming out a draw. Although the attack on Tokyo would prove most of all a morale lifter, the...

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TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC

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pp. 122-166

“I wish I could tell you about the South Pacific,” James Michener begins his book of fact-based stories drawn from his experiences as an aviation maintenance troubleshooter and senior historical officer. “The way it actually was. The infinite specks of coral we called islands. Coconut palms nodding gracefully toward the ocean. Reefs upon which waves broke into spray, and inner...

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ENDGAME: Kamikazes and the Bombing of Japan

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pp. 167-226

By the summer of 1944, the endgame strategy of America’s war in the Pacific could commence, involving both sides in a different kind of war, the nature of which argued against any attempts at individualism. The issues were America’s ability to mount mass bombing raids and Japan’s unique response to this threat. Once the Imperial Navy’s carrier strength was removed in the...

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CONCLUSION: Dimensions Moral and More

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pp. 227-270

Air war in the Pacific skies of World War II ends with the introduction of atomic weaponry, and hence it initiates more concerns than it solves. There were moral dimensions to the act that would not only continue but grow in importance, so that two generations later the problem seemed less resolvable than ever. Political dimensions were even more wide ranging, encompassing...

Bibliography

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pp. 271-276

Index

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pp. 277-285