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Synopsis

An abundance of new evidence demanded this reevaluation of Frank Jack Fletcher, the ?black shoe? admiral who won his battles at sea but lost the war of public opinion. A surface warrior?in contrast to a ?brown shoe? naval aviator--Fletcher led the carrier forces that won against all odds at Coral Sea, Midway, and the Eastern Solomons. These and other early carrier victories decided the Pacific War not only because they inflicted crippling losses but also because they denied Japan key strategic positions in the region. Despite these successes, by 1950 Fletcher had become one of the most controversial figures in U.S. naval history and portrayed as a timid bungler who failed to relieve Wake Island in December 1941 and who deliberately abandoned the Marines at Guadalcanal.

In this book, author John Lundstrom recalls that Fletcher once remarked,"after an action is over, people talk a lot about how the decisions were deliberately reached, but actually there's always a hell of a lot of groping around," and notes that the goal of his study is to probe and explain the "groping around." Drawing on new material, Lundstrom offers a fresh look at Fletcher's decisions and actions. The first major reassessment in more than fifty years of the once-maligned naval officer, it provides a careful analysis of the effect of radio intelligence on decision-making in the carrier battles during the first nine months of the war in the Pacific. This new assessment is based on thousands of documents and massive dispatch files and personal papers that no historian has previously used.

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