Enterprise: America’s Fightingest Ship And The Men Who Helped Win World War II by Barrett Tillman

EnterpriseReviewed by Cy Hilterman

An excellent factual book that takes this fabulous ship from day of launching to the day she was scrapped. The Enterprise, as you will learn in this finely detailed book, had a torrid history in the Pacific area with only a few short jaunts elsewhere. If you are looking for a fictional war book, Enterprise is NOT for you. Barrett Tillman has researched far and wide to obtain the history of the ship, its commanders over the years, the many other officers that assisted running her, the many sailors that kept her shipshape, the various airplanes and pilots that lived, and some that died on or near her, the many sorties flown by her airmen, the many air battles against the Japanese in the air and on land, the attacks on many Japanese ships, and the losses of so many good men, American and Japanese.

You will feel as though you are walking in the footsteps of these battle weary men whether they are on the ship, in the air, or on a brief leave to attempt to settle their minds and bodies. The men of the Enterprise actually never relaxed; they lived the Enterprise as though she were a part of them and they were a part of the ship. Enterprise was launched on October 3, 1936 as one of the original “fast carriers” in the American fleet. Compared to today’s carriers the Enterprise was a midget but in those days she was a monster capable of holding her own in action. Fortunately she was not at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese launched their despicable attack on December 7, 1941, for those ships that were there suffered slight to mostly total destruction of ships and a huge loss of men.

This factual book gives a very vivid detailed description of her, her men, and her airplanes action throughout the war. It details each battle, each type of aircraft and the updating of them as the war went on, while giving the reader a history of the various areas in which the Enterprise was active. You will learn the many island battles fought on land, sea, and in the air to take back areas that the Japanese had captured in the beginning of the war. Enterprise had quite a few commanders each with his own temperament and personality and interacted with the ships men as different as day and night. Speaking of night, Enterprise was the first carrier to train and fly night missions, a very challenging act by pilots and deck directors, both launching and landing.

You will feel the hits the ship took, both directly and indirectly, from the depth of the carrier to the top of the ships island. Towards the end of the war the kamikazes flew into various ships to inflict the most damage while committing suicide, the ships were generally terribly damaged and suffered much loss of life. The inter-action between ships when a convoy was moving together gave a lot of problems, some because of weather but mostly because of safety from attack on ships closer together. When an airplane went down either by shooting by the Japanese or because of problems with the plane itself, some crews were rescued by a nearby ship, some were fortunate to be in a life raft and survived for days before help arrived, but some had no chance of survival. A few were captured by the Japanese and most of these Americans suffered through torture. Many of the air battles are described along with the problems with airplanes trying to stay close and be in contact with each other and/or the ships.

I think you have a good idea now as to what to expect in “Enterprise” but no brief synopsis can do the book justice. You must read it if you are a history buff, especially the naval and air parts of the military during World War II.

Disclosure in Accordance with FTC Guidelines 16 CFR Part 255

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