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The Big E: The Story of the USS Enterprise, Illustrated Edition

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The Big E: The Story of the USS Enterprise, Illustrated Edition.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Edward P. Stafford(Author),Paul Stillwell(Introduction)

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"Her admirers will by grateful to Commander Stafford for preserving so much of her so well." -- New York Times

"The unbelievable career of the bravest and most effective warship America ever built, excitingly recorded." -- Life

"An action-packed drama of living men in a ship with a soul." -- San Francisco Examiner

"After reading Commander Stafford's lovingly detailed saga, you may well wonder: Why didn't they preserve the Big E for posterity, just as they did Old Ironsides." -- Arizona Republic

A lasting tribute to the USS Enterprise, this heavily illustrated, new edition tells the classic tale of the carrier that contributed more than any other warship to the naval victory in the Pacific. The original book, published in 1962, has remained one of the most celebrated World War II stories for more than four decades.

The Big E participated in nearly every major engagement of the war against Japan and earned a total of twenty battle stars. The Halsey-Doolittle Raid; the Battles of Midway, Santa Cruz, Guadalcanal, the Philippine Sea, and Leyte Gulf; and the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa are all faithfully recorded from the viewpoint of the men who served her so well.

This superb study of a great ship, her crew, and the action they saw has been called one of the finest pieces of naval writing to emerge from the war. Author Edward Stafford mined genuine nuggets from the mountain of research and lengthy interviews he conducted to write this book. He answers questions such as: What was it like to be inside the cockpit of a Dauntless dive bomber as it bored in on its target or what kind effort was required to unstick the ship's huge rudder when it was damaged by a bomb? Literate and scholarly as well as highly dramatic, the book will appeal to historians and the general public alike.

"A naval classic first published in 1962, Stafford's The Big E set a high standard for books about World War II, especially those about a ship and its crew. The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, the Navy's most famous and decorated ship of the war, was scrapped before Stafford, a naval aviator himself, wrote the book, which might have motivated the nation to save the ship. Stafford's extensive research and interviews with the ship's crew and air group cemented in print the extraordinary combat record of the ship with fresh recollections of the combat action. With this edition, published decades later, the Naval Institute Press turned 'The Big E' into a beautifully illustrated large-format book that adds images, sidebars and appendices to Stafford's work to bring the ship alive to new readers."--Seapower CDR. Edward Peary Stafford, USN (Ret.) (1918-2013) was a naval aviator. He wrote for Naval History and Proceedings, as well as for National Geographic. He is best known for The Big E and four other books on naval history: Subchaser; Little Ship, Big War; The Saga of DE-343, and The Far and the Deep.

4.5 (4050)
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Review Text

  • By lordhoot on May 21, 2010

    I'll try not to be redundant here since the past reviews are quite good by themselves. Reading the Big E is like reading old fashion history book. Its well written, easy to read and it tells an excellent story of a ship that served our nation from Pearl Harbor to V-J Day. The book centered itself around the USS Enterprise and her activities. Her story marked the passage of time from the dark days after Pearl Harbor to the glory days leading up to the surrender of Japan. The author did the ship justice.Only part I had a problem is that the book is bit dated in term of perception and understanding of the war. So much more understanding of the war has come out during the past 40 years and perception and acts that is so casually mentioned no longer fit the eyes of today. Stories of Enterprise fliers shooting Japanese planes down by the bushel toward the end of the war can be off set by the fact that they are basically shooting down untrained pilots in outdated planes. No matter how much you hate the enemy, there can be no glory or honor found in such battles. I was also not happy about the way the book ended, very casually about the way this great ship was led out into the pasture and shot (scrapped).Until a better book come out though, this book does come with good recommendation.

  • By R. Wise on May 26, 2016

    This book is a work of the 1960's. The author did a very fine job with the reference material at hand. His first person interviews were extensive and well done. In the forward the author points out that the story of the Enterprise is a story of its aircrew. I don't necessaily agree with that comment. What you'll get with this book is an thoroughly detailed account of the Enterprises air ops during WWII. It's a story that has to be told and it's well done here. I enjoyed this book very much. However, I was more interested in researching Enterprise the ship herself and this book didn't satisfy that need. I found Steve Ewing's book on CV-6 after buying "The Big E". Ewing's book is exactly what I was looking. I'm very pleased that I have both of these books. They provide an excellent balanced account of all of Enterprise's histories. One issue I have with this book. The author errs when writing about the overall strategic situations that the Enterprise found herself in. Case in point: he writes that the Midway operation was a continuation of the overall Japanese plan to conquest the Pacific. This was never the case. Yamamoto never considered the occupation of Midway or the Aleutian Islands when he developed his war plan prior to the Pearl Harbour attack. He put together the Midway operation as a knee-jerk response to the Doolittle raid on the Japanese homeland in April of 1942. He felt obligated to apologize to Hirohito and promised that he would extend Japan's defensive perimeter to prevent such raids from happening again. Hence - Midway. One other unfortunate error made by the author... he gave credit for the breaking of the Japanese naval code to the commander of the military unit that was tasked with breaking the code. However, it was Captain Rochefort who actually led the men who broke the code and thankfully historians give him full credit for his miraculous work - not his commanding officer. Again this book was written over fifty years ago so quite possibly these facts were not as well known as they are today. I give the author the benefit of the doubt.

  • By William S. Grass on July 31, 2011

    Upon entry into WW2, the United States Navy had six fast fleet carriers: Lexington, Saratoga, Yorktown, Enterprise, Hornet and Wasp. By the end of 1942, four of these, Lexington, Yorktown, Hornet and Wasp, lay on the ocean floor, courtesy of Japanese bombs and torpedoes. Of the two remaining, Saratoga had been sidelined twice that year by Japanese torpedoes, and was able to fight in only one of the four major carrier actions of 1942. The last, Enterprise, fought in three of the major actions of that year, missing only Coral Sea. Enterprise then went on to serve with the fast carrier task force throughout 1944 until May 1945, while Saratoga was placed on lesser assignments, missing most of the major actions of that time. Therefore, of all the prewar carriers, only Enterprise went on to serve in all major campaigns of the Pacific War, and therein lies the value of Edward Stafford's book, The Big E: it takes readers aboard the only carrier whose WW2 record, and the course of the entire Pacific War, are virtually one and the same.Stafford's narrative vividly demonstrates the nature of the two separate wars fought by U.S. carrier forces in the Pacific in WW2. The first war was characterized by task forces of only one or two prewar carriers, engaging in hit-and-run raids, approaching by night to avoid detection by Japanese air, and dependent upon the sturdy but underpowered Wildcat fighters for CAP. After the raid, the task force would quickly steam clear of the area to avoid the inevitable concentration of enemy aircraft. The second war was characterized by the arrival of the Essex class fleet carriers and two-thousand-horsepower Hellcat fighters, which arrived in the Pacific by mid-1943. The task forces in this second war often consisted of multiple task groups, of several fleet carriers accompanied by light carriers, who did not hit-and-run but instead hit-and-stayed. Such a force was capable of launching hundreds of planes at once and did not have to rely on stealth, but upon concentration of overwhelming force. For Enterprise, the watershed between these two wars was her overhaul in Bremerton from July to September, 1943.It is true, as other reviewers have stated, that Stafford's book is mostly about Enterprise's air groups and flight operations. However, antiaircraft defenses, damage control and related topics are covered as well. There are typos, which could have easily been avoided. There are also errors in fact. To cite two examples, Stafford states that planes from Enterprise on one occasion shot down an ME-109, a German fighter, being flown by a Japanese pilot. Also, the Japanese pilot who flew the kamikaze that struck Enterprise in May, 1945, was long believed to be named "Tomi Zai." Subsequent research has shown that neither of these is accurate. Fortunately, the errors are few, and will not detract significantly from the reader's enjoyment.


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