Return to Midway

Book Review



Return to Midway


Robert D. Ballard


National Geographic  Publishing



Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

January, 2002


Return To Midway describes the author's quest to find the remains of the Japanese  aircraft carriers Hiryu, Soryu, Kaga and Akagi and of the U.S. aircraft carrier Yorktown that were sunk during the most decisive naval battle of World War II. This is a hardcover book of 191 pages.

During World War II, the United States engaged a numerically superior Japanese naval force near the island of Midway in the Pacific Ocean. After several days, the United States emerged victorious, having sunk four of the largest Japanese  aircraft carriers. After this battle, the Japanese were never able to mount  an effective naval offensive for the balance of the war.

Robert Ballard became fascinated by the prospect of using a deep-sea research  drone to view the wrecks of these historic battle casualties and mounted an expedition to attempt to locate them. He used an ocean going research vessel  and high-tech equipment to attempt to locate and view the wrecks. Along with the technicians and scientists, the crew included veterans of the actual battle  from both sides to provide a historical prospective of the events of the battle.  The expedition tried unsuccessfully to locate the Japanese ships for weeks but finally found the wreck of the U.S.S. Yorktown over two miles down on the floor  of the Pacific Ocean.

The book commemorates the conflict with a recounting of the major events leading up to the battle and of the battle itself. This is accomplished with both text  and an abundance of pictures. The best pictures of the U.S.S. Yorktown wreck are included with explanations of certain features and comparative pictures  from the 1940's of the identical features. The photographs also include detail pictures of the sonar and picture robots that were used to locate and photograph the wreck.

This book does not attempt to provide  an all-inclusive narrative of the battle. The pictures are mostly of excellent  quality. The author detracts from the story by falling back somewhat on complaining about problems that occurred with the search and photographic equipment, space that perhaps could have been better used in providing more background about  the ships, battle or crews involved in this conflict. Most readers that are  interested in viewing ocean wrecks will undoubtedly find this book wonderful  due to the abundance of clear deep-sea photographs of the remains of the Yorktown.

This is an interesting epilog to the story of the battle of Midway with great  pictures and sufficient textual background to interest those unfamiliar with this famous battle.

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