by Stephen R. Taaffe
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998. Pp. 312.
Maps, notes, biblio., index. $40.00. ISBN:0-706-0870-2
This is a very fine piece of work on a campaign that has long needed a fresh look. Taaffe's book is a well-written, meticulously researched operational level study of the New Guinea Campaign. As always, any study of this campaign must deal with the towering figure of Douglas MacArthur. Taaffe, however, does an excellent job at dealing with MacArthur's strengths and weaknesses as a commander. More importantly, Taaffe also gives proper coverage to such overlooked individuals as Walter Krueger, Robert Eicheberger, Thomas Kinkaid, and George Kenney and the critical roles each played in the campaign.
Taaffe has also had the advantage, of which he makes excellent use, of all of the scholarship that has appeared over the past few years dealing with subjects such as intelligence. He shows quite clearly how MacArthur's intelligence chief Charles Willoughby used, misused, read, and misread intelligence gleaned from sources ranging from Australian coast watchers to ULTRA. Finally, the book never loses sight of the bigger picture. The campaign is properly set against the background of the Pacific in general and how it fitted into its conduct.
Well researched and an easy read, this book is a must for anyone with an interest in the Pacific War.