Happy I am pleased to announce that Rising Sun, Falling Skies: The Disastrous Java Sea Campaign of World War II is now available for pre-order from Amazon. It will be published in March 2014.
Rising Sun, Falling Skies covers the heroic efforts of US naval forces trapped and isolated in the Far East after Pearl Harbor, who joined with British, Dutch and Australians in a desperate effort to halt the overwhelming Japanese onslaught. The campaign started badly with the Japanese destroying the US Far East Air Force on the ground in the Philippines and sinking the British battleship Prince of Wales and battlecruiser Repulse and ended even worse with the disastrous Allied defeat in the Battle of the Java Sea that led to the Japanese conquest of the oil-rich Netherlands East Indies, what is today Indonesia, and the achievement of the Japanese objectives in going to war.
In the middle, American, British, Dutch and Australian fighting men were done in by factors almost too numerous to list: ambivalent leaders, incompetent generals, indefensible positions, old, worn-out ships; almost no air support, badly outnumbered fighting men, outclassed and outnumbered aircraft, no hope for reinforcement, no hope even for replacements, no chance to rest, no chance to maintain their equipment, constantly low on supplies, especially oil and munitions; poor communications and bickering governments. In the face of these crushing odds, the only hope the Allied forces had was to delay the Japanese, buy time for the new warships and aircraft under construction in US shipyards and factories to enter the war. Every day counted. This was a modern-day Thermopylae, with a stand every bit as heroic, every bit as desperate, every bit as memorable as Leonidas and his 300 Spartans.
Rising Sun, Falling Skies takes a more American perspective on the naval campaign, including the efforts of the cruisers Houston and Marblehead, our submarines and ancient-but-game "four piper" destroyers, both crippled by criminally defective torpedoes; the desperation that doomed the USS Langley and the hunted Patrol Wing 10, who performed reconnaissance work that was borderline suicide. But our faithful and equally heroic allies will receive their due as well: the last stands of the British cruiser Exeter and the Australian cruiser Perth, the little-known British temporary repulse of a Japanese invasion force an hour before Pearl Harbor, and the mountains of unfair abuse heaped on the gallant, humane Dutch commander Karel Doorman, who went down with his ship in the Battle of the Java Sea.
The Japanese, too, will come in for examination. Their navy was a bizarre contradiction of very modern, very powerful ships with capable officers that achieved victory using a doctrine rejected by their own superiors and tactics that did not work. They would succeed in a conquest so vast, so complete that it would rival the German blitzkrieg, but would also sow the seeds for their own defeat in the war.
Rising Sun, Falling Skies has literally been 30 years in the making. Readers of my blog know that I study military history with an almost unmatched zeal. For me, it all started with World War II in the Pacific, with the Java Sea Campaign, its drama, and its mysteries holding a special place in my heart. The book is packed with as much information I can cram into it and fresh interpretations on a campaign that has not gotten a lot of attention, and the efforts made and miseries suffered by our servicemembers that have never been fully appreciated. This is a dream come true. Whether readers agree or disagree with my take on the campaign, I hope everyone will enjoy reading it.