by Byron Como
Amazon Digital Services, 2019. Pp. x, 260.
Illus, maps, notes, index. $49.95 paper. ISBN: 1521448833
New Light on the U.S. Navy’s “David
and Goliath” Fight
Independent scholar Como has produced what is sure to be considered the definitive account of the defense of the escort carriers of Task Unit 77.4.3 off Samar on October 25, 1944.
Using data from the after action reports from both American and Japanese sides, in the latter case mostly only recently available, Como has reconstructed the movements of each vessel using a computer geographic information system. This reveals not only the locations of virtually all the ships on an almost minute-by-minute basis, but also their relative positions and bearings, which permits the action to depicted in a series of maps.
Como combines this this information with many personal accounts, so that he is able to reconstruct the battle as it unfolded. The narrative often cuts back and forth between several ships, and both sides. This makes for a fast paced look at the events as they transpired, at times dispelling the fog of war to reveal several hitherto unconfirmed “friendly fire” incidents, fortuitous escapes, and some moment of remarkable determination and courage in the face of almost certain death.
As he recounts the story of the battle, Como seasons his account with a lot of technical information on how the ships were fought. So we learns how destroyers engage in torpedo action, the duties of cooks when battle stations was sounded, and more.
The Defenders of Taffy 3 is an impressive work, essential reading for anyone interested in the Pacific War or war at sea in general.
Note: The Defenders of Taffy 3 is also available in several formats and e-editions.
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