By: James D. Hornfischer
"This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can."
With these words, Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Copeland addressed the crew of the destroyer escort USS Samuel B. Roberts on the morning of October 25, 1944, off the Philippine Island of Samar. On the horizon loomed the mightiest ships of the Japanese navy, a massive fleet that represented the last hope of a staggering empire. All that stood between it and Douglas MacArthur's vulnerable invasion force were the Roberts and the other small ships of a tiny American flotilla poised to charge into history.
In Tin Can Soldiers, James D. Hornfischer paints an unprecedented portrait of the Battle of Samar, a naval engagement unlike any other in U.S. history - and captures with unforgettable intensity the men, the strategies, and the sacrifices that turned certain defeat into a legendary victory.
One of the finest WWII naval action narratives in recent years, this book creates a microcosm of the war's American Navy destroyers. In October 1944, in which a force of American escort carriers and destroyers fought off a Japanese force many times its strength, and the larger battle of Leyte Gulf, the opening of the American liberation of the Philippines, which might have suffered a major setback if the Japanese had attacked the transports.
He presents the men who crewed the destroyer Taffy 3, most of whom had never seen salt water before the war but who fought, flew, kept the crippled ship afloat, and doomed ships fighting almost literally to the last shell.
Finally, Hornfischer provides a perspective on the Japanese approach to the battle, somewhat modifying the traditional view of the Japanese Admiral Kurita as a fumbler or even a coward-while exalting American sailors and pilots as they richly deserve.
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