Pacific campaigns: one of the big ones. Since this was written the internet has happened along, giving access to photographs, maps, Pathé snippets, reminiscences, obituaries, and modern documentary films with truly dreadful moronic American chauvinist narrators who make the Pathé commentators look restrained and unsentimental (yes I am thinking of one in particular). These are all useful supplements, but the value of a systematic and dispassionate account becomes even more obvious as you google.
The tone is mostly dry and academic, preoccupied with numbers (which are in themselves shocking) and dates. The occasional concession to human interest is made, for example restrained thumbnail sketches of the senior commanders:
“Nimitz had had a varied career … bold and skilful … accessibility, regard for his subordinates and his quiet strength of character … ”
“Spruance was an intellectual, retiring man not given to seeking publicity …”
“Fraser, a gunnery specialist … a relaxed and easy-going style … ”
One description breaks the pattern:
“Described as ‘an awkward bastard’, Vian believed people could take him as they found him.” I did have a little chuckle; having heard Admiral Sir Philip Vian’s character assassinated in highly coloured navyspeak, I’m guessing this thumbnail still counts as academic understatement.
But I’m afraid one detail took my attention above all. Shangri-La? An aircraft carrier called Shangri-La?? Sorry, people over the water, a joke is all very well, but how on earth could you do it to her, poor thing?