Book Review: The Battle of Leyte Gulf at 75: A Retrospective


by Thomas J. Cutler, editor

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2019. Pp. vii, 340+. Illus., maps, notes. $29.95. ISBN: 1682474615

Revisiting the Greatest Naval Battle

Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the greatest naval battle of modern times, Prof. Cutler (Naval War College) has collected two dozen papers to recall the events, reexamine old controversies, and discover what lessons may still be learned. Following a thoughtful introduction, the papers are grouped in two parts.

The first part includes eleven papers written for this volume. They offer retrospective glimpses of personal experiences during the fight, analyses of strategy and planning, two enlightening evaluations of Halsey’s decision to seek out the Japanese Northern Force, an interesting comparison of the campaign with the Athenian expedition to Sicily nearly 2400 years earlier, and more. One particularly valuable paper offers a thoughtful meditation on what history loses with the passing of the wartime generation.

The dozen papers in the second part are all drawn from the archives of the Naval Institute. They include several earlier accounts of the campaign or parts of it, including pieces by Halsey, Jesse Oldendorf, and even a Japanese admiral, and further treatments of Halsey’s decision to go north. There's also some interesting commentary of the ultimate “what if” of battleship buffery, the possible outcome of an Iowa/Yamato battle.

The Battle of Leyte Gulf at 75 is a valuable read for anyone with an interest in naval history, and particularly those concerned with the Pacific War.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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