HISTORICAL SOURCE MATERIAL

Reading:

"Midway: The Incredible Victory", by Walter Lord; (1967) Wordsworth's Military Library.
Author's note: I regard Walter Lord's book as being the best study of the Battle of Midway, and especially useful as an introduction to the battle for history students.
Walter Lord interviewed many of the participants in the battle for his book.

"Hawaii under the Rising Sun", Professor J.J. Stephan; (2002) University of Hawaii Press.

"Miracle at Midway", Gordon W. Prange et Al, (1982) McGraw-Hill Book Company.

"A Glorious Page in our History", Robert J. Cressman et Al; (1990) Pictorial Histories Publishing Co.

"Return to Midway", Robert D. Ballard; published 1999 by Madison Press Books, Toronto.

"The Midway Campaign", Jack Greene; published by Combined Books, PA, 1995.

"Midway:The Battle that doomed Japan", M. Fuchida and M. Okumiya; (1955) Ballantine Books, NY.


Viewing:

Movie/Cinema

"Midway"

"Midway" (1976) is a Hollywood blockbuster with a cast of top actors. The film falls well short of greatness because of historical inaccuracies, overuse of familiar wartime stock film footage, and the unnecessary intrusion of a mawkish sub-plot involving an American Midway pilot and a Japanese-American girl whose family oppose the romance on racial grounds.

Having seen the battle for Iwo Jima turned by Hollywood into another unjustified guilt trip for Americans in "Flags of our Fathers", I hope no more attempts are made by Hollywood to bring the most important and dramatic sea battle of World War II to the Silver Screen.

Documentaries (DVD)

Author's Note: More information about these DVD documentaries can be found on the amazon.com web-site. Unfortunately, "Battle for the Pacific" has superb Battle of Midway coverage but may be hard to find.

"Return to Midway"

This one-hour National Geographic documentary DVD covers the finding of the sunken USS Yorktown (CV-5) by famous undersea explorer Robert D. Ballard, who also found Titanic and Bismark. See book of the same name above. Battle of Midway US Navy veterans Bill Surgi and Harry Ferrier accompanied Robert Ballard on this extraordinary voyage of discovery. trip. Japan was represented by Battle of Midway veterans Yuji Akamatsu and Haruo Yoshino.This is great viewing. Who can ever forget the sight of USS Yorktown emerging from the darkness of the Pacific floor?

"Battle for the Pacific"

This DVD gem is a compilation of US Navy and US Marine official films. The Battle of Midway segment is official US Navy film and includes 14 minutes of famous director John Ford's coverage of the Japanese attack on Midway Atoll. The colour is superb and the film is in excellent condition with very little of the projector damage that is visible as vertical lines on much Midway stock footage. The voice-overs appear to include comment by Henry Fonda. The voice-over commentaries are patriotic in character and tell us very little about the battle itself and its context in the Pacific War. This DVD was published by Kaleidoscope and may be very difficult to buy in new condition.

"The Battle of Midway"

This Discovery Channel DVD has the best overall coverage and explanation of the Battle of Midway, including excellent graphics. Eyewitness commentaries are a great bonus. Unfortunately, the colour is somewhat faded and the action footage exhibits the vertical projector scratches that are not present in "Battle for the Pacific" (above).

"The Battle for Midway"

This National Geographic DVD covers the battle well with narration by Peter Coyote. The John Ford Midway Atoll footage is very good quality, and the colour is excellent. Eyewitness commentaries are an extra bonus.

"The Pacific War: They filmed the War in Colour"

This 90-minute documentary is highly recommended. The quality of the Battle of Midway coverage is excellent. Several minutes of John Ford's Midway Atoll film are included, and the colour and image sharpness are both very good. A bonus is the coverage of the Doolittle Raid which includes footage that I have never seen before.

"John Ford goes to War" (2005)

This documentary DVD provides an interesting insight into the complex, and somewhat flawed character of a legendary film director. However, the real gem provided as an "Extra" is John Ford's Academy Award-winning "Battle of Midway". It runs for 18 minutes, and in my opinion, the transfer from the original 16 millimetre film shot by Ford at great risk to his life during the Japanese attack on Midway Atoll is very good. The print is reasonably sharp considering its source was 16 mm film. The colour is excellent, and projector wear and tear is minimal and mostly unobtrusive. John Ford's "Battle of Midway" has become difficult to obtain through commercial channels and I feel that inclusion of an excellent copy of his "Battle of Midway" on this DVD justifies the cost. More details of this DVD are available from Amazon.com.

"The World at War" (Volume 1)

The Midway coverage is brief in this ward-winning DVD series on World War II, and explanation is minimal. However, the narration is by Sir Laurence Olivier who acknowledges that Midway was "one of the greatest sea battles of all time".

"Hell in the Pacific"

This DVD is published by Carlton in the UK and may be hard to obtain in North America. However, it is available from Amazon.com (UK). It contains excellent coverage of the Pacific War, including Midway and the Doolittle Raid. The commentary on the Doolittle Raid and Midway by famous Dauntless dive-bomber pilot Lieutenant Commander Dick Best is a great bonus. The Midway coverage lasts for only 4 minutes, but the quality of the stock film is very good. Why the British producers saw fit to include bizarre comments by Rod Steiger dressed in black like the monk Rasputin is a mystery to me.

Web-Sites:

The Naval Historical Center, at http://www.history.navy.mil/index.html

 

MIDWAYINDEX