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Combined Fleet Decoded: The Secret History of American Intelligence and the Japanese Navy in World War II

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Written in the style of a thriller but solidly based on an array of sources, this study reinterprets the entire sea campaign in the Pacific, using intelligence as the missing key to the Allied success. It examines every aspect of the secret war of intelligence -- from radio dispatches and espionage to vital information from prisoners and document translation -- showing how Written in the style of a thriller but solidly based on an array of sources, this study reinterprets the entire sea campaign in the Pacific, using intelligence as the missing key to the Allied success. It examines every aspect of the secret war of intelligence -- from radio dispatches and espionage to vital information from prisoners and document translation -- showing how U.S. intelligence outsmarted Japan nearly every step of the way. The resulting assessment is a virtual rewriting of history that challenges previous conceptions about the Pacific conflict.John Prados relates the growing intelligence knowledge on both sides to the progress and outcome of naval actions. Along the way he offers a wealth of revelations that include data on how the United States caught the superbattleship Yamato and the impact of intelligence on the initial campaigns in the Philippines and Netherlands East Indies and the escape of American codebreakers from Corregidor. He also provides colorful vignettes of personalities who shaped the secret intelligence war. This ambitious work is not simply a rundown of code-breaking successes, but an astonishing demonstration of how the day-to-day accumulation of knowledge can produce extraordinary results. Its accounting of Japanese intelligence is unprecedented in detail. Its reassessment of battles and campaigns is presented not just in terms of troops or ships but in how the secret war actually played out. Lauded as a major new study when published in hardcover in 1995, the book remains the most comprehensive study written. For sheer drama and gut-level operational practicality, it ranks with the very best.


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Written in the style of a thriller but solidly based on an array of sources, this study reinterprets the entire sea campaign in the Pacific, using intelligence as the missing key to the Allied success. It examines every aspect of the secret war of intelligence -- from radio dispatches and espionage to vital information from prisoners and document translation -- showing how Written in the style of a thriller but solidly based on an array of sources, this study reinterprets the entire sea campaign in the Pacific, using intelligence as the missing key to the Allied success. It examines every aspect of the secret war of intelligence -- from radio dispatches and espionage to vital information from prisoners and document translation -- showing how U.S. intelligence outsmarted Japan nearly every step of the way. The resulting assessment is a virtual rewriting of history that challenges previous conceptions about the Pacific conflict.John Prados relates the growing intelligence knowledge on both sides to the progress and outcome of naval actions. Along the way he offers a wealth of revelations that include data on how the United States caught the superbattleship Yamato and the impact of intelligence on the initial campaigns in the Philippines and Netherlands East Indies and the escape of American codebreakers from Corregidor. He also provides colorful vignettes of personalities who shaped the secret intelligence war. This ambitious work is not simply a rundown of code-breaking successes, but an astonishing demonstration of how the day-to-day accumulation of knowledge can produce extraordinary results. Its accounting of Japanese intelligence is unprecedented in detail. Its reassessment of battles and campaigns is presented not just in terms of troops or ships but in how the secret war actually played out. Lauded as a major new study when published in hardcover in 1995, the book remains the most comprehensive study written. For sheer drama and gut-level operational practicality, it ranks with the very best.

30 review for Combined Fleet Decoded: The Secret History of American Intelligence and the Japanese Navy in World War II

  1. 5 out of 5

    John Nevola

    Written long enough after the War to assure hindsight with clarity, declassification of war secrets and the participation of the Japanese, Combined Fleet Decoded is the most complete and descriptive book on the War in the Pacific ever written. John Prados demonstrates great scholarship and the tenacity of a world-class researcher as he uncovers never before revealed secrets of cryptography and the impact of intelligence gathering on the pivotal naval battles of the Pacific. Long before America's Written long enough after the War to assure hindsight with clarity, declassification of war secrets and the participation of the Japanese, Combined Fleet Decoded is the most complete and descriptive book on the War in the Pacific ever written. John Prados demonstrates great scholarship and the tenacity of a world-class researcher as he uncovers never before revealed secrets of cryptography and the impact of intelligence gathering on the pivotal naval battles of the Pacific. Long before America's edge in production could be brought to bear, the gathering, analysis and interpretation of the enemy's intentions provided the Americans with just enough of an advantage to fight the Japanese to a standstill early in the War. It was in this crucial period that the code breakers excelled and provided just enough of an edge to make a difference. While only the most avid World War II history buff would consider this a "page-turner", it is written well enough to maintain interest and moves along at a decent pace. Considering the interesting revelations and new insights into old battles, it is certainly worth reading.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ironman Ninetytwo

    A comprehensive study of WWII in the Pacific, with slightly more weight on intelligence than other histories. Definitely felt like a source for Cryptonomicon, and I always love that feeling. Anecdotes reinforcing that are the factoid that Eisenhower and Churchill were not allowed to visit the front because of their Ultra knowledge, failed codebook disposals, and the case where Chief of Staff Burke wanted to know why a radio lieutenant had such unfettered access to Admiral Mitscher. None of these A comprehensive study of WWII in the Pacific, with slightly more weight on intelligence than other histories. Definitely felt like a source for Cryptonomicon, and I always love that feeling. Anecdotes reinforcing that are the factoid that Eisenhower and Churchill were not allowed to visit the front because of their Ultra knowledge, failed codebook disposals, and the case where Chief of Staff Burke wanted to know why a radio lieutenant had such unfettered access to Admiral Mitscher. None of these histories can ever paint Halsey in a good light. This book illuminated the principle of focus on mission. When commanders retained this focus (Spruance at Midway), they achieved success even if later criticized. When commanders lost the focus on mission (Halsey at Leyte), catastrophe ensued.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Albert

    Excellent book, but only if you are interested in many details of the Pacific war and (navy) intelligence in particular. Gives you an insight into the way the Japs thought. There are more books written about this subject but this could well be the standard.

  4. 5 out of 5

    James Reagan

    The author describes the complex underside of WW2 in the Pacific, where decoding what the Japanese were saying to each other was foundational to winning the war.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ray S

    Prados basically rewrites the history of progress in the Pacific War. The degree to which intelligence activities played a profound part in determining the outcome of sea and land battles throughout the entire war. The well-known breaking of the Japanese naval code that led to victory at Midway is but one small, if vital, piece of the intelligence puzzle. We've all heard of how the Allies helped defeat the Nazis by reading their military codes of the Enigma machine, but compared to breaking code Prados basically rewrites the history of progress in the Pacific War. The degree to which intelligence activities played a profound part in determining the outcome of sea and land battles throughout the entire war. The well-known breaking of the Japanese naval code that led to victory at Midway is but one small, if vital, piece of the intelligence puzzle. We've all heard of how the Allies helped defeat the Nazis by reading their military codes of the Enigma machine, but compared to breaking codes derived from the Japanese language---one of the hardest languages in the world---the Enigma problem was comparative child's play. Prados revealed the intelligence-based underside of the WWII in the Pacific and does so in a style that is almost surgical and very readable.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nishant Pappireddi

    A comprehensive account of how intelligence (not only codebreaking, but also reconnaissance, direction finding, and other methods) on both sides of the Pacific War played a role in the naval war in the Pacific.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ari

    Good specialist history.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    A superb overview of the intelligence effort against Japan, both before and during the war.

  9. 4 out of 5

    John

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eric Walters

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rob Williams

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

  13. 4 out of 5

    Robert Holland

  14. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Morena

  15. 4 out of 5

    Orabera Labourer

  16. 5 out of 5

    William

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jerry W Stachowski

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joe Walsh

  19. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

  20. 4 out of 5

    Greg Lawson

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael Burke

  22. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bob

  24. 5 out of 5

    Craig

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cherlz Villamejor

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joe Cisneros

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pete H

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marc

  29. 5 out of 5

    Merrick

  30. 5 out of 5

    Paul Richardson

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