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Download Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Neptunes Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal Audiobook, by James D. Hornfischer Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (600 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James D. Hornfischer Narrator: Robertson Dean Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2011 ISBN: 9780307881281
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With The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors and Ship of Ghosts, James D. Hornfischer created essential and enduring narratives about America’s World War II Navy—works of unique immediacy distinguished by rich portraits of ordinary men in extremis and exclusive new information. Now he does the same for the deadliest, most pivotal naval campaign of the Pacific war: Guadalcanal.

Neptune’s Inferno is at once the most epic and the most intimate account ever written of the contest for control of the seaways of the Solomon Islands, America’s first concerted offensive against the Imperial Japanese juggernaut and the true turning point of the Pacific conflict. This grim, protracted campaign has long been heralded as a Marine victory. Now, with his powerful portrait of the Navy’s sacrifice—three sailors died at sea for every man lost ashore—Hornfischer tells for the first time the full story of the men who fought in destroyers, cruisers,  and battleships in the narrow, deadly waters of “Ironbottom Sound.” Here, in brilliant cinematic detail, are the seven major naval actions that began in August of 1942, a time when the war seemed unwinnable and America fought on a shoestring, with the outcome always in doubt. But at Guadalcanal the US proved it had the implacable will to match the Imperial war machine blow for violent blow. 

Working from new interviews with survivors, unpublished eyewitness accounts, and newly available documents, Hornfischer paints a vivid picture of the officers and enlisted men who took on the Japanese in America’s hour of need: Vice Admiral William “Bull” Halsey, who took command of the faltering South Pacific Area from his aloof, overwhelmed predecessor and became a national hero; the brilliant Rear Admiral Norman Scott, who died even as he showed his command how to fight and win; Rear Admiral Daniel Callaghan, the folksy and genteel “Uncle Dan,” lost in the strobe-lit chaos of his burning flagship; Rear Admiral Willis Lee, who took vengeance two nights later in a legendary showdown with the Japanese battleship Kirishima; the five Sullivan brothers, all killed in the shocking destruction of the Juneau; and many others, all vividly brought to life.

The first major work on this essential subject in almost two decades, Neptune’s Inferno does what all great battle narratives do: It cuts through the smoke and fog to tell the gripping human stories behind the momentous events and critical decisions that altered the course of history and shaped so many lives. This is a thrilling achievement from a master historian at the very top of his game.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A masterpiece of twentieth century naval history.”

    Bob Shacochis, National Book Award–winning author of The Immaculate Invasion

  • “With this grand, sweeping, history-correcting book, James Hornfischer takes his place among the elite historians of the United States war in the Pacific during World War II.”

    Ron Powers, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Flags of Our Fathers

  • “Ambitious…entertaining…insightful…judicious…A vivid and engaging account…of war at sea in 1942.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “The star of this year’s reading list is James D. Hornfischer, a military historian whose flair for narrative is rivaled only by his ability to organize the sweep of battle and assess strategy and tactics in layman’s terms.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “An epic work…It deserves a place of honor on every military bookshelf.”

    San Antonio Express-News

  • “Well written, packed with scene-setting details, and clearly the product of extensive research.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “A masterful synthesis of technical analysis, operational narrative, and tales of courage.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “This is gripping and readable, not a dry military report.”

    Library Journal

  • “Outstanding…As in his first two books, the author’s narrative gifts and excellent choice of detail give an almost Homeric quality to the men who met on the sea in steel titans.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Hornfischer’s accounts of naval combat in the Pacific are simply the best in the business.”

    Ian W. Toll, author of Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the US Navy

  • Neptune’s Inferno is a superb portrait of the US Navy’s critical role in the Guadalcanal campaign, both the surface and aerial combat. Comprehensive with much that is new, yet immensely readable, it covers not only the admirals, but the junior officers and bluejackets as well. Highly recommended.”

    John B. Lundstrom, author of The First Team

  • “Hornfischer has produced an account that is visceral, yet technical; sweeping, yet personal. It’s a terrific read, and an important new addition to the literature on this most important naval campaign in the Pacific.”

    Jonathan Parshall, co-author of Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Boston Globe Bestseller
  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Harry Lane | 2/20/2014

    " Many histories are dry as dust -- not this one! The accounts of the Naval battles read like fiction. The struggle for Guadalcanal is told as well as any one book could, and while the outcome was long in doubt, it can be seen in retrospect as the "end of the beginning" in Churchill's famous phrase on another turning point. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Greg | 2/10/2014

    " Well documented book about the efforts of the US Navy during the WWII battle of Guadalcanal. While the Marines were fighting on the island, the Navy was engaged in an epic battle on the sea. This is the best book I've found explaining the people and ships involved in the conflict. (Also enjoyed it since my Dad served during this battle.) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kim | 2/3/2014

    " This is the best book I've read in a long time, in any category -- a non-fiction account that has all the color and pace of a novel. Rather than take the "great man" approach of following the actions of a single individual, or a single unit, Hornfischer weaves together the narratives of hundreds of men to tell this story. The result is an impressive account of the battle that also helps to fully reveal the human beings that fought it. As the stories of individual sailors and airmen develop, the reader never truly knows until the very end whether they survived -- and you will very much care, by the end of their stories, about what happened to them. Despite all the individual detail, however, the story does not lose pace or wander off the path. The lessons of this battle -- the consequences of the slow adoption of new technology, the painful sorting out of officers who could adapt to wartime conditions from those who could not -- are presented with unsentimental clarity. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matt Bohn | 2/3/2014

    " Everyone knows about the U.S. Marines at Guadalcanal. The U.S. Navy made their mark too, eventually. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Justin Eckert | 2/2/2014

    " Gained much more respect for what these men went through day in and day out fighting in the Pacific "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bob | 1/19/2014

    " An excellent history of the battle for Guadalcanal in World War II. The author discusses the strategic and tactical operations that led to the US Navy's victory. The book also discusses the thoughts and feelings of the men involved, both American and Japanese, from the Admirals to the enlisted men who endured the terror of battle. The author shows how the fight could have gone either way as far as victory was concerned and the terrible sacrifices made by men and ships. History comes alive in this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patrick Heins | 1/19/2014

    " Amazing story and well written! I didn't want it to end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tom | 1/16/2014

    " I thought I knew about Guadalcanal--I was wrong. Much about how we learned to wage war at great cost to our sailors. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephen Watkins | 12/26/2013

    " Excellent read. This book puts you there, back in 1942 at the Battle for Guadalcanal. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shonan_naminori | 12/18/2013

    " It's not bad history, a good light read, but I think the best part is the bibliography and end notes for further reading. I enjoyed it nonetheless. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Terry | 12/17/2013

    " An excellent narrative of the events at Guadalcanal. Recommended for its narrative style, readability, and use of just the right amount of detail. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark | 10/30/2013

    " An extremely insightful and well written look at the Naval battle for Guadalcanal. I read Hornfischer's Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors and was left wanting to know more about the 'big gun' Navy engagements in the Pacific. This book was everything I hoped for and more. Highly recommended. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kurt Thonnings | 10/17/2013

    " Great explanation of the sad events of the US navy in early World War Two, south pacific theater. A great read. Tactics explained, first-hand stories recounted, and action at its best. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hud (Bob) Huddleston | 9/14/2013

    " Although I liked the novel overall, I thought it did run a little too long. Felt repetitive. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve | 12/27/2012

    " A great book giving the account of the United States Navy's role in the Battle of Guadalcanal. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Lomnicki, | 12/16/2012

    " Very good read. I will probably read some of the authors other books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bert Hopkins | 11/20/2012

    " Excellent! Told a story few Americans are even aware of. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robert Chamberlin | 4/18/2012

    " Excellent account of naval battles off Guadacanal in 1942. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Samuel | 3/31/2012

    " A masterful retelling of the events surrounding several naval battles near the island of Guadalcanal. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stuart Lutzenhiser | 3/23/2012

    " Great book. A detailed view of the events leading up to the Naval battles in the Solomon islands at Guadalcanal. Bloody and depressing, but moving as well. A pretty balanced (to my view) of what we did right as well as what we did wrong, as well as what the Japanese did well or poorly. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bazbal666 | 1/31/2012

    " wow, what a fantastic book. Hornficher really knows how to make history gripping and real, can't wait for his next book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Walter Straus | 10/12/2011

    " If you are a WWII buff, this is an excellent book about a significant chapter in the Pacific war. I had heard the name Guadalcanal for years, but had no idea how long it lasted and how important it was to the whole play out of the war. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rick Cheeseman | 9/24/2011

    " Amazing. There really is nothing else to say. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tom | 5/26/2011

    " In this book,Hornfischer blends his trademark of placing the reader in the turrets alongside the young men who were so unflinching in their devotion to duty, with a view over the shoulders of the flags as they struggled to learn new tactics to defeat an enemy they grossly underestimated. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Don | 4/9/2011

    " Very well written account of US Naval action off of Guadacanal in 1942. Great read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bert | 3/24/2011

    " Excellent! Told a story few Americans are even aware of. "

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About the Author
Author James D. HornfischerJames D. Hornfischer is the author of Ship of Ghosts and The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, which won the Samuel Eliot Morison Award and was a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. Hornfischer's third book, Neptune's Inferno, will be published by Bantam in January 2011. He lives in Austin, Texas.
About the Narrator

Robertson Dean has played leading roles on and off Broadway and at dozens of regional theaters throughout the country. He has a BA from Tufts University and an MFA from Yale. His audiobook narration has garnered numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards. He now lives in Los Angeles, where he works in film and television in addition to narrating.