Craig L. Symonds

  • Sur la Seconde Guerre mondiale ont été écrits des milliers voire des centaines de milliers d'ouvrages, dans des dizaines de langues. Nombre d'entre eux traitent certes des dimensions maritimes du conflit, de la place qu'ont occupée la Royal Navy, la Kriegsmarine et la marine des États-Unis, du rôle des diverses marines sur tel théâtre d'opérations ou au cours de telle bataille, tout particulièrement en Méditerranée et dans le Pacifique, mais aucun avant celui-ci n'avait évalué l'impact des forces maritimes de l'ensemble des nations belligérantes sur le cours du conflit dans sa globalité, et même sur son issue. Pourtant, il n'y eut pas une guerre dans l'Atlantique et une autre dans le Pacifique, une troisième en Méditerranée et une autre encore dans l'Océan Indien ou en mer du Nord. Dresser la chronique de ce conflit en blocs géographiques distincts permettrait sans doute de simplifier les choses, mais ce n'est pas ainsi que la guerre s'est déroulée ou que les principaux responsables ont eu à la conduire. Les pertes de navires durant la bataille de l'Atlantique affectèrent en effet la disponibilité des unités de transports de troupe pour celle de Guadalcanal ; les convois en direction de l'île de Malte assiégée, en Méditerranée, privaient ceux de l'Atlantique d'une partie de leurs escortes ; la poursuite du cuirassé Bismarck imposa de ponctionner des forces basées en Islande, à Gibraltar et en Grande-Bretagne. La trame chronologique et spécifiquement navale choisie par Craig L. Symonds permet de mettre en lumière à quel point les événements maritimes ont tracé et orienté en profondeur le cours de cette guerre.
    Du traité naval germano-britannique de 1935 à la signature de l'Acte de capitulation japonais signé sur le USS Missouri en septembre 1945, en passant par la bataille de l'Atlantique où se distinguèrent les U-Boote allemands, celle de Méditerranée, l'attaque de Pearl Harbor, les batailles de la mer du Corail, de Midway, les opérations amphibies « Torch » et « Overlord » ou encore la bataille du golfe de Leyte et l'assaut amphibie sur l'île d'Iwo Jima, l'auteur dresse une synthèse inégalée du conflit sans omettre l'étude des percées technologiques - concernant les avions, les torpilles, le décryptage, le radar et finalement l'énergie atomique - qu'il a induit.
    Fort de nombreuses sources inédites, il laisse en outre les acteurs historiques s'exprimer d'eux-mêmes, afin de raconter la Seconde Guerre mondiale en mer telle que les contemporains l'ont vécue : une seule histoire gigantesque et complexe impliquant des dirigeants nationaux, des stratèges, des commandants de flottes et des capitaines de navires, des mécaniciens, des servants de tourelles, des pilotes d'avions, des marins de la marine marchande et des Marines américains, et un drame humain aux dimensions planétaires qui a exercé un impact durable, démesuré sur l'histoire du monde.
    Un futur classique.

    Traduit de l'anglais par Johan-Frédérik Hel Guedj « L'Histoire navale de la Seconde Guerre mondiale est une histoire précieuse, ramassée en un seul volume, mais d'une ampleur somptueuse, qui n'oublie pas un seul épisode. Craig Symonds réalise ici un véritable haut fait : il parvient à nous transmettre toute cette matière en nous offrant un récit passionnant et une histoire pleine d'intérêt. Ce livre est un régal ! » John Prados, auteur de La Guerre du Vietnam (Perrin, 2011) ;

  • Abraham Lincoln began his presidency admitting that he knew but little of ships, but he quickly came to preside over the largest national armada to that time, not eclipsed until World War I. Written by naval historian Craig L. Symonds, Lincoln and His Admirals unveils an aspect of Lincolns presidency unexamined by historians until now, revealing how he managed the men who ran the naval side of the Civil War, and how the activities of the Union Navy ultimately affected the course of history. Beginning with a gripping account of the attempt to re-supply Fort Sumter--a comedy of errors that shows all too clearly the fledgling presidents inexperience--Symonds traces Lincolns steady growth as a wartime commander-in-chief. Absent a Secretary of Defense, he would eventually become de facto commander of joint operations along the coast and on the rivers. That involved dealing with the men who ran the Navy: the loyal but often cranky Navy Secretary Gideon Welles, the quiet and reliable David G. Farragut, the flamboyant and unpredictable Charles Wilkes, the ambitious ordnance expert John Dahlgren, the well-connected Samuel Phillips Lee, and the self-promoting and gregarious David Dixon Porter. Lincoln was remarkably patient; he often postponed critical decisions until the momentum of events made the consequences of those decisions evident. But Symonds also shows that Lincoln could act decisively. Disappointed by the lethargy of his senior naval officers on the scene, he stepped in and personally directed an amphibious assault on the Virginia coast, a successful operation that led to the capture of Norfolk. The man who knew but little of ships had transformed himself into one of the greatest naval strategists of his age. Co-winner of the 2009 Lincoln Prize Winner of the 2009 Barondess/Lincoln Prize by the Civil War Round Table of New York John Lyman Award of the North American Society for Oceanic History Daniel and Marilyn Laney Prize by the Austin Civil War Round Table Nevins-Freeman Prize of the Civil War Round Table of Chicago

  • Seventy years ago, more than six thousand Allied ships carried more than a million soldiers across the English Channel to a fifty-mile-wide strip of the Normandy coast in German-occupied France. It was the greatest sea-borne assault in human history. The code names given to the beaches where the ships landed the soldiers have become immortal: Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah, and especially Omaha, the scene of almost unimaginable human tragedy. The sea of crosses in the cemetery sitting today atop a bluff overlooking the beaches recalls to us its cost. Most accounts of this epic story begin with the landings on the morning of June 6, 1944. In fact, however, D-Day was the culmination of months and years of planning and intense debate. In the dark days after the evacuation of Dunkirk in the summer of 1940, British officials and, soon enough, their American counterparts, began to consider how, and, where, and especially when, they could re-enter the European Continent in force. The Americans, led by U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, wanted to invade as soon as possible; the British, personified by their redoubtable prime minister, Winston Churchill, were convinced that a premature landing would be disastrous. The often-sharp negotiations between the English-speaking allies led them first to North Africa, then into Sicily, then Italy. Only in the spring of 1943, did the Combined Chiefs of Staff commit themselves to an invasion of northern France. The code name for this invasion was Overlord, but everything that came before, including the landings themselves and the supply system that made it possible for the invaders to stay there, was code-named Neptune. Craig L. Symonds now offers the complete story of this Olympian effort, involving transports, escorts, gunfire support ships, and landing craft of every possible size and function. The obstacles to success were many. In addition to divergent strategic views and cultural frictions, the Anglo-Americans had to overcome German U-boats, Russian impatience, fierce competition for insufficient shipping, training disasters, and a thousand other impediments, including logistical bottlenecks and disinformation schemes. Symonds includes vivid portraits of the key decision-makers, from Franklin Roosevelt and Churchill, to Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, and Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, who commanded the naval element of the invasion. Indeed, the critical role of the naval forces--British and American, Coast Guard and Navy--is central throughout. In the end, as Symonds shows in this gripping account of D-Day, success depended mostly on the men themselves: the junior officers and enlisted men who drove the landing craft, cleared the mines, seized the beaches and assailed the bluffs behind them, securing the foothold for the eventual campaign to Berlin, and the end of the most terrible war in human history.

  • This fast-paced narrative traces the emergence of the United States Navy as a global power from its birth during the American Revolution through to its current superpower status. The story highlights iconic moments of great drama pivotal to the nations fortunes: John Paul Jones attacks on the British in the Revolution, the Barbary Wars, and the arduous conquest of Iwo Jima. The book illuminates the changes--technological, institutional, and functional--of the U.S. Navy from its days as a small frigate navy through the age of steam and steel to the modern era of electronics and missiles. Historian Craig L. Symonds captures the evolving culture of the Navy and debates between policymakers about what role the institution should play in world affairs. Internal and external challenges dramatically altered the size and character of the Navy, with long periods of quiet inertia alternating with rapid expansion emerging out of crises. The history of the navy reflects the history of the nation as a whole, and its many changes derive in large part from the changing role of the United States itself.

  • This fast-paced narrative traces the emergence of the United States Navy as a global power from its birth during the American Revolution through to its current superpower status. The story highlights iconic moments of great drama pivotal to the nations fortunes: John Paul Jones attacks on the British in the Revolution, the Barbary Wars, and the arduous conquest of Iwo Jima. The book illuminates the changes--technological, institutional, and functional--of the U.S. Navy from its days as a small frigate navy through the age of steam and steel to the modern era of electronics and missiles. Historian Craig L. Symonds captures the evolving culture of the Navy and debates between policymakers about what role the institution should play in world affairs. Internal and external challenges dramatically altered the size and character of the Navy, with long periods of quiet inertia alternating with rapid expansion emerging out of crises. The history of the navy reflects the history of the nation as a whole, and its many changes derive in large part from the changing role of the United States itself.

  • Seventy years ago, more than six thousand Allied ships carried more than a million soldiers across the English Channel to a fifty-mile-wide strip of the Normandy coast in German-occupied France. It was the greatest sea-borne assault in human history. The code names given to the beaches where the ships landed the soldiers have become immortal: Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah, and especially Omaha, the scene of almost unimaginable human tragedy. The sea of crosses in the cemetery sitting today atop a bluff overlooking the beaches recalls to us its cost.
    Most accounts of this epic story begin with the landings on the morning of June 6, 1944. In fact, however, D-Day was the culmination of months and years of planning and intense debate. In the dark days after the evacuation of Dunkirk in the summer of 1940, British officials and, soon enough, their American counterparts, began to consider how, and, where, and especially when, they could re-enter the European Continent in force. The Americans, led by U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, wanted to invade as soon as possible; the British, personified by their redoubtable prime minister, Winston Churchill, were convinced that a premature landing would be disastrous. The often-sharp negotiations between the English-speaking allies led them first to North Africa, then into Sicily, then Italy. Only in the spring of 1943, did the Combined Chiefs of Staff commit themselves to an invasion of northern France. The code name for this invasion was Overlord, but everything that came before, including the landings themselves and the supply system that made it possible for the invaders to stay there, was code-named Neptune.
    Craig L. Symonds now offers the complete story of this Olympian effort, involving transports, escorts, gunfire support ships, and landing craft of every possible size and function. The obstacles to success were many. In addition to divergent strategic views and cultural frictions, the Anglo-Americans had to overcome German U-boats, Russian impatience, fierce competition for insufficient shipping, training disasters, and a thousand other impediments, including logistical bottlenecks and disinformation schemes. Symonds includes vivid portraits of the key decision-makers, from Franklin Roosevelt and Churchill, to Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, and Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, who commanded the naval element of the invasion. Indeed, the critical role of the naval forces--British and American, Coast Guard and Navy--is central throughout.
    In the end, as Symonds shows in this gripping account of D-Day, success depended mostly on the men themselves: the junior officers and enlisted men who drove the landing craft, cleared the mines, seized the beaches and assailed the bluffs behind them, securing the foothold for the eventual campaign to Berlin, and the end of the most terrible war in human history.

  • There are few moments in American history in which the course of events tipped so suddenly and so dramatically as at the Battle of Midway. At dawn of June 4, 1942, a rampaging Japanese navy ruled the Pacific. By sunset, their vaunted carrier force (the Kido Butai) had been sunk and their grip on the Pacific had been loosened forever.
    In this absolutely riveting account of a key moment in the history of World War II, one of America's leading naval historians, Craig L. Symonds paints an unforgettable portrait of ingenuity, courage, and sacrifice. Symonds begins with the arrival of Admiral Chester A. Nimitz at Pearl Harbor after the devastating Japanese attack, and describes the key events leading to the climactic battle, including both Coral Sea--the first battle in history against opposing carrier forces--and Jimmy Doolittle's daring raid of Tokyo. He focuses throughout on the people involved, offering telling portraits of Admirals Nimitz, Halsey, Spruance and numerous other Americans, as well as the leading Japanese figures, including the poker-loving Admiral Yamamoto. Indeed, Symonds sheds much light on the aspects of Japanese culture--such as their single-minded devotion to combat, which led to poorly armored planes and inadequate fire-safety measures on their ships--that contributed to their defeat. The author's account of the battle itself is masterful, weaving together the many disparate threads of attack--attacks which failed in the early going--that ultimately created a five-minute window in which three of the four Japanese carriers were mortally wounded, changing the course of the Pacific war in an eye-blink.
    Symonds is the first historian to argue that the victory at Midway was not simply a matter of luck, pointing out that Nimitz had equal forces, superior intelligence, and the element of surprise. Nimitz had a strong hand, Symonds concludes, and he rightly expected to win.

  • From thunderous broadsides traded between wooden sailing ships on Lake Erie, to the carrier battles of World War II, to the devastating high-tech action in the Persian Gulf, here is a gripping history of five key battles that defined the evolution of naval warfare--and the course of the American nation.
    Acclaimed military historian Craig Symonds offers spellbinding narratives of crucial engagements, showing how each battle reveals the transformation of technology and weaponry from one war to the next; how these in turn transformed naval combat; and how each event marked a milestone in American history.


    DT Oliver Hazard Perry's heroic victory at Lake Erie, one of the last great battles of the Age of Sail, which secured the Northwestern frontier for the United States


    DT The brutal Civil War duel between the ironclads Monitor and Virginia, which sounded the death knell for wooden-hulled warships and doomed the Confederacy's hope of besting the Union navy

    DT Commodore Dewey's stunning triumph at Manila Bay in 1898, where the U.S. displayed its "new navy" of steel-hulled ships firing explosive shells and wrested an empire from a fading European power


    DT The hairsbreadth American victory at Midway, where aircraft carriers launched planes against enemies 200 miles away--and where the tide of World War II turned in the space of a few furious minutes


    DT Operation Praying Mantis in the Persian Gulf, where computers, ship-fired missiles, and "smart bombs" not only changed the nature of warfare at sea, but also marked a new era, and a new responsibility, for the United States.

    Symonds records these encounters in detail so vivid that readers can hear the wind in the rigging and feel the pounding of the guns. Yet he places every battle in a wide perspective, revealing their significance to America's development as it grew from a new Republic on the edge of a threatening frontier to a global superpower.
    Decision at Sea is a powerful and illuminating look at pivotal moments in the history of the Navy and of the United States. It is also a compelling study of the unchanging demands of leadership at sea, where commanders must make rapid decisions in the heat of battle with lives--and the fate of nations--hanging in the balance.

  • From thunderous broadsides traded between wooden sailing ships on Lake Erie, to the carrier battles of World War II, to the devastating high-tech action in the Persian Gulf, here is a gripping history of five key battles that defined the evolution of naval warfare--and the course of the American nation.
    Acclaimed military historian Craig Symonds offers spellbinding narratives of crucial engagements, showing how each battle reveals the transformation of technology and weaponry from one war to the next; how these in turn transformed naval combat; and how each event marked a milestone in American history.


    DT Oliver Hazard Perry's heroic victory at Lake Erie, one of the last great battles of the Age of Sail, which secured the Northwestern frontier for the United States


    DT The brutal Civil War duel between the ironclads Monitor and Virginia, which sounded the death knell for wooden-hulled warships and doomed the Confederacy's hope of besting the Union navy


    DT Commodore Dewey's stunning triumph at Manila Bay in 1898, where the U.S. displayed its "new navy" of steel-hulled ships firing explosive shells and wrested an empire from a fading European power


    DT The hairsbreadth American victory at Midway, where aircraft carriers launched planes against enemies 200 miles away--and where the tide of World War II turned in the space of a few furious minutes


    DT Operation Praying Mantis in the Persian Gulf, where computers, ship-fired missiles, and "smart bombs" not only changed the nature of warfare at sea, but also marked a new era, and a new responsibility, for the United States.

    Symonds records these encounters in detail so vivid that readers can hear the wind in the rigging and feel the pounding of the guns. Yet he places every battle in a wide perspective, revealing their significance to America's development as it grew from a new Republic on the edge of a threatening frontier to a global superpower.
    Decision at Sea is a powerful and illuminating look at pivotal moments in the history of the Navy and of the United States. It is also a compelling study of the unchanging demands of leadership at sea, where commanders must make rapid decisions in the heat of battle with lives--and the fate of nations--hanging in the balance.

  • There are few moments in American history in which the course of events tipped so suddenly and so dramatically as at the Battle of Midway. At dawn of June 4, 1942, a rampaging Japanese navy ruled the Pacific. By sunset, their vaunted carrier force (the Kido Butai) had been sunk and their grip on the Pacific had been loosened forever.
    In this absolutely riveting account of a key moment in the history of World War II, one of America's leading naval historians, Craig L. Symonds paints an unforgettable portrait of ingenuity, courage, and sacrifice. Symonds begins with the arrival of Admiral Chester A. Nimitz at Pearl Harbor after the devastating Japanese attack, and describes the key events leading to the climactic battle, including both Coral Sea--the first battle in history against opposing carrier forces--and Jimmy Doolittle's daring raid of Tokyo. He focuses throughout on the people involved, offering telling portraits of Admirals Nimitz, Halsey, Spruance and numerous other Americans, as well as the leading Japanese figures, including the poker-loving Admiral Yamamoto. Indeed, Symonds sheds much light on the aspects of Japanese culture--such as their single-minded devotion to combat, which led to poorly armored planes and inadequate fire-safety measures on their ships--that contributed to their defeat. The author's account of the battle itself is masterful, weaving together the many disparate threads of attack--attacks which failed in the early going--that ultimately created a five-minute window in which three of the four Japanese carriers were mortally wounded, changing the course of the Pacific war in an eye-blink.
    Symonds is the first historian to argue that the victory at Midway was not simply a matter of luck, pointing out that Nimitz had equal forces, superior intelligence, and the element of surprise. Nimitz had a strong hand, Symonds concludes, and he rightly expected to win.

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