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Nimitz at War : Command Leadership from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay - Craig L. Symonds

Nimitz at War

Command Leadership from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay

By: Craig L. Symonds

Paperback | 3 July 2024

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From America's preeminent naval historian, the first full-length portrait in over fifty years of the man who won the war in the Pacific in World War Two--"destined," says Andrew Roberts, "to be the defining life of Chester Nimitz for a long time to come."

"Nimitz at War is the greatest biography yet written about the greatest admiral in American history." - Ian Toll

Only days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt tapped Chester W. Nimitz to assume command of the Pacific Fleet. Nimitz was not the most senior candidate available, and some, including his new boss, U.S. Navy Admiral Ernest J. King, considered him a "desk admiral," more suited to running a bureaucracy than a theater of war. Yet FDR's selection proved nothing less than inspired. From the precarious early months of the war after December 7th, 1941 to the surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay nearly four years later, Nimitz transformed the devastated and dispirited Pacific fleet into the most powerful and commanding naval force in history.

From the start, the pressures on Nimitz were crushing. Facing demands from Washington to mount an early offensive, he had first to revive the depressed morale of the thousands of sailors, soldiers, and Marines who served under him. He had to corral independent-minded subordinates--including Admiral Bill "Bull" Halsey and General Holland "Howlin' Mad" Smith--and keep them focused on shared objectives. He had to maintain a sometimes-fraught relationship with his Army counterpart Douglas MacArthur, and cope with his superiors, including the formidably prickly King and the inscrutable FDR. He had to navigate the expectations of a nation impatient for revenge and eventual victory. And of course, he also confronted a formidable and implacable enemy in the Imperial Japanese Navy, which, until the Battle of Midway, had the run of the Pacific.

Craig Symonds' Nimitz at War reveals how the quiet man from the Hill Country of Texas eventually surmounted all of these challenges. Using Nimitz's headquartersD the of the hurricaneD as his vantage point, Symonds covers all the major campaigns in the Pacific from Guadalcanal to Okinawa. He captures Nimitz's composure, discipline, homespun wisdom, and most of all his uncanny sense of when to assert authority and when to pull back. In retrospect it is difficult to imagine anyone else accomplishing what Nimitz did. As Symonds' absorbing, dynamic, and authoritative portrait reveals, it required qualities of leadership exhibited by few other commanders in history, qualities that are enduringly and even poignantly relevant to our own moment.

Nimitz at War has sold over 25,000 copies in hardcover and ebook combined.

Industry Reviews
In December 1941, FDR's choice to take over the shattered US Pacific Fleet was an obscure desk admiral. His selection proved inspired beyond all expectation. Within six months, Nimitz helped set the stage for the ultimate defeat of Japan, holding his own with his superiors while quietly fashioning an outstanding set of subordinate commanders. Symonds has given us a Nimitz for the 21st Century. * John B. Lundstrom, Author of lack Shoe Carrier Admiral *
Nimitz's genius lay in his ability to convince others that they could do great things. In that respect he was 'a force multiplier in the Pacific War,' one whose legacy was the Allied victory itself. Immersive, deeply researched, and superbly written, imitz at War will become the standard. * General Mike Hagee, USMC(Ret) 33rd Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, CEO Admiral Nimitz Foundation *
Nimitz at War is the greatest biography yet written about the greatest admiral in American history. * Ian W. Toll *
Craig Symonds' ability to put the reader in the shoes of the admiral who masterminded the US Pacific Fleet's response to Pearl Harbor is truly remarkable. In his brilliant pen portraits of Nimitz's comrades (and occasional rivals), Symonds delivers a masterclass in the influence of character on decision-making. Deeply researched, extremely well-written, and often genuinely exciting, this is destined to be the defining life of Chester Nimitz for a long time to come. * Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny *
This excellent book is the inspiring story of a great American leader, who rebuilt a broken fleet and led it to victory against a formidable foe, through four years of war without a major defeat Craig Symonds has done it with grace and a large spirit. In World War II, the United States Navy had a typically understated flag hoist for such an achievement: Baker Zebra (now Bravo Zulu): Well Done. * David Hackett Fischer, author of Albion's Seed and Washington's Crossing, winner of the Pulitzer Prize *
A brilliant and balanced account of how Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz led the greatest naval campaign in history. Now often overlooked, Nimitz was the only American World War II theater commander-even compared to Eisenhower and MacArthur-who won great victories when fighting outnumbered or merely at parity. This deeply researched and highly readable book offers a timeless textbook on high command excellence. * Richard B. Frank, author of Tower of Skulls: A History of the Asia-Pacific War: July 1937-May 1942 *

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