Publisher's Summary

With The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors and Ship of Ghosts, James D. Hornfischer created essential and enduring narratives about America’s World War II Navy, works of unique immediacy distinguished by rich portraits of ordinary men in extremis and exclusive new information. Now he does the same for the deadliest, most pivotal naval campaign of the Pacific war: Guadalcanal.
Neptune’s Inferno is at once the most epic and the most intimate account ever written of the contest for control of the seaways of the Solomon Islands, America’s first concerted offensive against the Imperial Japanese juggernaut and the true turning point of the Pacific conflict. This grim, protracted campaign has long been heralded as a Marine victory. Now, with his powerful portrait of the Navy’s sacrifice - three sailors died at sea for every man lost ashore - Hornfischer tells for the first time the full story of the men who fought in destroyers, cruisers, and battleships in the narrow, deadly waters of “Ironbottom Sound.” Here, in brilliant cinematic detail, are the seven major naval actions that began in August of 1942, a time when the war seemed unwinnable and America fought on a shoestring, with the outcome always in doubt. But at Guadalcanal the U.S. proved it had the implacable will to match the Imperial war machine blow for violent blow.
Working from new interviews with survivors, unpublished eyewitness accounts, and newly available documents, Hornfischer paints a vivid picture of the officers and enlisted men who took on the Japanese in America’s hour of need.
©2011 James D. Hornfischer (P)2011 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

“With the publication of Neptune's Inferno, a masterpiece of 20th century naval history, it's time to declare James Hornfischer a national treasure, a member of the distinguished band of brothers - Stephen Ambrose, Shelby Foote, Ken Burns, Spielberg and Hanks - whose sacred mission has been vital to America's journey, preserving the stories of our fathers and grandfathers for future generations, before those stories fade forever out of our consciousness into the shadows of time.”(Bob Shacochis, National Book Award winner, author of The Immaculate Invasion)
"Hornfischer has produced an account that is visceral, yet technical; sweeping, yet personal. It’s a terrific read, and an important new addition to the literature on this most important naval campaign in the Pacific." (Jonathan Parshall, co-author of Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway)
"Hornfischer’s accounts of naval combat in the Pacific are simply the best in the business." (Ian W. Toll, author of Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Robert B on 04-05-2012

Desperate battles, well told

What was one of the most memorable moments of Neptune's Inferno?

The moments of the first battle

Have you listened to any of Robertson Dean’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Dean did an excellent job. He is the right narrator for this book. Spot on.

Any additional comments?

For anyone that has a passing interest in naval history you must get this book. This was a pivotal moment in the Pacific. Not many people know about these battles and Hornfischer does an excellent job of telling them. This was where the navy blees more than the army or marines did. These were cutthroat battles at ranges that were pointblank. Two admirals were killed in combat during them. This is the battle where Halsey did his best work of the war.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By KH on 05-02-2011

Hornfischer does it again.

Just like The Last Stand Of The Tin Can Sailors, Hornfischer draws me into a sometimes chaotic battle, and this one far greater in scope and length than the previous, giving me just enough detail without losing the big picture. His descriptions aren't cumbersome or tedious but paint an epic of heroes, monstrous destructive machines and the struggles of men just like you and I. I've read several books on the Guadalcanal Campaign and Neptune's Inferno with ease, reveals the desperate situation the USA as well as the USN grappled with in the Summer of 1942. He made me yearn to hear more of the plight of the Marines and Cactus Airforce but gave enough to round out the telling and still stay focused. Perhaps in another book?

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12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Rick B on 06-03-2018

Great story

Fantastic account of one of the largest but little appreciated (at least in the UK) Naval actions of WW2.
The narrator is however very monotone, which some may find difficult going.

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5 out of 5 stars
By Andy on 06-06-2014

How the US Navy fought for Guadalcanal

James Hornfischer has produced a brilliant account of the World War II US Navy in the Pacific theatre.

Moving back in time from the subject of his previous book 'The Last Stand of the Tin-can Sailors', Hornfischer on this occasion deals with how the US Navy fought for, and almost lost, the campaign for the Solomon Islands.

Hornfischer explains events at the strategic, tactical and individual level and, even if the lack of maps (the one big drawback of the audiobook version) is keenly felt in places, the writing is clear and the story easy to follow. He is also careful to explain the thoughts and motivations of the Japanese military as well as the reasons for their initial successes and subsequent failure to hold the island.

Although Guadalcanal is often seen as a marine corps affair (e.g. HBO's 'The Pacific'), Hornfischer's book made me realise just how much the ground troops relied on the navy and the sometimes severe consequences which resulted when they weren't present. He also successfully makes the case for the importance of the 'black shoe' navy, whose big guns, and bigger ships, have traditionally been regarded as an obsolescent when compared to the more celebrated carrier arm.

Robertson Dean's reading is impeccable (although his slightly stentorian style takes a little getting used to if you haven't heard one of his readings before) even if a few RAN warships have to suffer the American pronunciation of their names.

Really recommended if you are interested in WWII or naval history.

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