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Tin Can Titans: The Heroic Men and Ships of World War II's Most Decorated Navy Destroyer Squadron

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When Admiral William Halsey selected Destroyer Squadron 21 (Desron 21) to lead his victorious ships into Tokyo Bay to accept the Japanese surrender, he chose the most battle-hardened US naval squadron of the war. But it was not the squadron of ships that had accumulated such an inspiring résumé; it was the people serving aboard them who won the battles. This is the story o When Admiral William Halsey selected Destroyer Squadron 21 (Desron 21) to lead his victorious ships into Tokyo Bay to accept the Japanese surrender, he chose the most battle-hardened US naval squadron of the war. But it was not the squadron of ships that had accumulated such an inspiring résumé; it was the people serving aboard them who won the battles. This is the story of Desron 21’s heroic sailors whose battle history is the stuff of legend. Through diaries, personal interviews with survivors, and letters written to and by the crew during the war, John Wukovits brings to life the human story of the squadron and its men who bested the Japanese in the Pacific and helped take the war to Tokyo.    


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When Admiral William Halsey selected Destroyer Squadron 21 (Desron 21) to lead his victorious ships into Tokyo Bay to accept the Japanese surrender, he chose the most battle-hardened US naval squadron of the war. But it was not the squadron of ships that had accumulated such an inspiring résumé; it was the people serving aboard them who won the battles. This is the story o When Admiral William Halsey selected Destroyer Squadron 21 (Desron 21) to lead his victorious ships into Tokyo Bay to accept the Japanese surrender, he chose the most battle-hardened US naval squadron of the war. But it was not the squadron of ships that had accumulated such an inspiring résumé; it was the people serving aboard them who won the battles. This is the story of Desron 21’s heroic sailors whose battle history is the stuff of legend. Through diaries, personal interviews with survivors, and letters written to and by the crew during the war, John Wukovits brings to life the human story of the squadron and its men who bested the Japanese in the Pacific and helped take the war to Tokyo.    

30 review for Tin Can Titans: The Heroic Men and Ships of World War II's Most Decorated Navy Destroyer Squadron

  1. 4 out of 5

    Doug Phillips

    Let me start by stating that my rating for this book would really be 4.5 stars. Imagine that your work day started with a call to battle stations. Every day. Your day would entail a routine of lobbing armaments to the shore of a Pacific island, followed by mine sweeping, and rounded out by a rousing battle of firepower between your "office" (which may be a large caliber deck gun) and the evil nation that is out to kill your entire organization. Now imagine keeping up that regiment for more than Let me start by stating that my rating for this book would really be 4.5 stars. Imagine that your work day started with a call to battle stations. Every day. Your day would entail a routine of lobbing armaments to the shore of a Pacific island, followed by mine sweeping, and rounded out by a rousing battle of firepower between your "office" (which may be a large caliber deck gun) and the evil nation that is out to kill your entire organization. Now imagine keeping up that regiment for more than 365 days. That is basically the world of the officers and crew of several destroyers featured in this book. For most of the war years after December 7, 1941, these destroyers were a personal favorite fighting choice for Admiral William "Bull" Halsey in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Halsey's leadership style meant a well-prepared navy that trained and trained and trained. So, when the real stuff hit the fan, these boys were ready to fight in a precision style. Wukovits gives us a sort of "you are there" perspective to his writing here. The extensive detail of the ships and crews allows the reader to become familiar with the primary destroyers and their war experience up to and including the Japanese surrender in 1945. I am pleased that I moved this book up on my to-be-read list. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to better understand how this class of ship was used to help win the war in the Pacific.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    So much has been written about World War II that anyone writing about it must come up with a different angle. Wukovits chose to write about the destroyers (Tin Cans) which he says were the workhorse of the war in the Pacific. Wukovits describes the story of Destroyer Squadron 21 (DesRon21). He follows the squadron from 1942 to leading the United States Fleet into Tokyo Bay to receive the Japanese surrender in August 1945. The author covers not only the action, the ships, but also the crews that So much has been written about World War II that anyone writing about it must come up with a different angle. Wukovits chose to write about the destroyers (Tin Cans) which he says were the workhorse of the war in the Pacific. Wukovits describes the story of Destroyer Squadron 21 (DesRon21). He follows the squadron from 1942 to leading the United States Fleet into Tokyo Bay to receive the Japanese surrender in August 1945. The author covers not only the action, the ships, but also the crews that manned the ships. The book is divided into three parts, each containing three or four chapters. The first is on the origins of the vessels, then the squadron organization and lastly the campaigns. All sections are about the crews. In fact, the author makes the book read more like a novel than a history book. The book is well written and researched. The author conduced oral interviews of the veterans of DesRon21 as well as read many diaries. He dissected naval archives and reviewed action reports. The book format has photographs and maps. Destroyer Squadron 21 was the most decorated naval squadron of WWII. Anyone who likes to read about WWII will enjoy this book. I read this book as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is almost eleven hours long. Robertson Dean does an excellent job narrating the book. Dean is a multi-award -winning audiobook narrator. Dean is well known to most long-time audiobook readers.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David

    I have been working my way through quite a few World War II memoirs. One of my favorites was Tameichi Hara's Japanese Destroyer Captain. The title is pretty self-explanatory — Hara was the captain of a Japanese destroyer who saw some of the fiercest battles of the war. Hara's memoir is referenced frequently in this book about the crew of an American destroyer squadron. It's not the first-person perspective of a captain, but a writer collecting letters, news articles, and first-hand interviews ma I have been working my way through quite a few World War II memoirs. One of my favorites was Tameichi Hara's Japanese Destroyer Captain. The title is pretty self-explanatory — Hara was the captain of a Japanese destroyer who saw some of the fiercest battles of the war. Hara's memoir is referenced frequently in this book about the crew of an American destroyer squadron. It's not the first-person perspective of a captain, but a writer collecting letters, news articles, and first-hand interviews many years after the fact. This makes Tin Can Titans a bit distant at times, as we are seeing things through the lens of history and an author who naturally covers his subjects with glory. Unlike Tameichi Hara's humility, stemming from natural and cultural inclinations, and as befits his role as someone who fought on the losing side, John Wukowitz paints his destroyermen as brave heroes worthy of the highest honors. Which is not to say that they didn't truly deserve those honors. The book is split between historical details to put events in their context, and first-hand accounts of officers and crew aboard the destroyers. Most of Destroyer Squadron 21 was fortunate enough to survive the entire Pacific War with few or no casualties. But some of them went down, and a lot of men died, and some of them had to endure severe hardships, from floating for hours in the ocean waiting to be rescued, to trying to survive on a jungle island with both Japanese and American patrols shooting at him. The first-person tales of heroism, though, didn't interest me as much as simply putting personal touches on the major acts of the war. The replacing of the weak Admiral Ghormley with Admiral "Bull" Halsey, and its enormous impact on the morale of the men of SouthPac. The increasing loathing Americans felt for Japanese soldiers as each side became more inhuman to the other. Nights out at sea listening to Tokyo Rose and her pathetic attempts at demoralization. Battles against swarms of Japanese air units, and finally, the advent of kamikaze tactics. It is much more "real" and immediate as recounted by men who lived it, even with the patina of decades. This isn't the best World War II memoir I've read - I prefer the first-person narratives. But it tells a different perspective than than the more frequently told carrier battles. Destroyers are small ships, just thin-skinned "tin cans," not much more than fast-moving delivery systems for torpedoes and depth charges. Against air attacks, they have only minimal AA defenses. Against submarines, they are playing cat and mouse, except the mouse is as big and deadly as they are. Against cruisers and battleships, they are Davids hurling stones at Goliath. But like David, sometimes those stones are lethal, and American destroyers sent more than their weight to the bottom of the sea.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael Burnam-Fink

    Destroyers are the workhorses of the fleets. While carriers might have the glory, battleships the honor, and cruisers a sleek elegance, destroyers get the job done where bigger ships are too expensive to risk. With 5" guns, torpedoes, and a potent mix of anti-aircraft and anti-submarine weapons, destroyers do all the dirty and dangerous jobs of the fleet. Tin Can Titans focuses on the decorated ships of DesRon 21, primarily the Fletcher-class destroyers USS Fletcher, USS Nicholas, and USS O'Banno Destroyers are the workhorses of the fleets. While carriers might have the glory, battleships the honor, and cruisers a sleek elegance, destroyers get the job done where bigger ships are too expensive to risk. With 5" guns, torpedoes, and a potent mix of anti-aircraft and anti-submarine weapons, destroyers do all the dirty and dangerous jobs of the fleet. Tin Can Titans focuses on the decorated ships of DesRon 21, primarily the Fletcher-class destroyers USS Fletcher, USS Nicholas, and USS O'Bannon. This ships were the frontline in the most desperate days of the Solomon Islands campaign, first escorting supply ships to Guadalcanal, and then pushing back the IJN along the Slot. Wukovits writes a conventional WW2 hagiography, celebrating the heroism of the common sailor and their rapid professionalism. Senior leadership is called out for failing to use destroyers as independent units in night action, relegating them to a close screening role that invited confusion and reduced the effectiveness of radar in key battles in 1942 and 1943. The narrative focuses closely on the men of the ships, but as a military history it loses focus later in the war. As the Pacific Fleet swelled, destroyers were no longer Halsey's only punch, but merely once component of a massive amphibious war machine. This is a good book, and I appreciated the details on the Solomon Islands, but there are few surprises here.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    A rather good look at a handful of destroyers in the Pacific War, including 3 that were in many of the battles starting from November of 1942. It is very strong in its portrayal of the exhausting work of these ships and crews. I was a little disappointed with this book. There was very little about the squadron as such, as opposed to the great detail on the individual ships. Who commanded the squadron from time to time? Did its makeup change-- all we read about are the 9 ships that it initially ha A rather good look at a handful of destroyers in the Pacific War, including 3 that were in many of the battles starting from November of 1942. It is very strong in its portrayal of the exhausting work of these ships and crews. I was a little disappointed with this book. There was very little about the squadron as such, as opposed to the great detail on the individual ships. Who commanded the squadron from time to time? Did its makeup change-- all we read about are the 9 ships that it initially had assigned? Were other ships assigned, or did the squadron wither away as an organization? Why and how were destroyers organized in squadrons, and what was the formation supposed to do? I also think that the author tried too hard to ennoble the actions of the ships and crews, at one point describing daily air raids for months on end, then the next page stating that a ship underwent 9 "air strikes" in 6 months. Very soon after, he writes about "a hundred major actions" in less than a year, which is certainly not what had been covered in the previous pages.

  6. 4 out of 5

    WW2 Reads

    Destroyer Squadron 21 (Desron 21) was the most decorated Navy destroyer squadron of World War Two. The ships of Desron 21, particularly the O'Bannon, were well known on the US homefront for their bravery and holding the line against Imperial Japan in those desperate, early days of the Pacific War and after the destruction at Pearl Harbor. Largely unknown or forgotten today, author John Wukovits' Tin Can Titans restores to their former glory the incredibly brave, if initially inexperienced, young Destroyer Squadron 21 (Desron 21) was the most decorated Navy destroyer squadron of World War Two. The ships of Desron 21, particularly the O'Bannon, were well known on the US homefront for their bravery and holding the line against Imperial Japan in those desperate, early days of the Pacific War and after the destruction at Pearl Harbor. Largely unknown or forgotten today, author John Wukovits' Tin Can Titans restores to their former glory the incredibly brave, if initially inexperienced, young men who stopped the Imperial Japanese juggernaut and gave the "arsenal of democracy" time to produce enough vessels to eventually turn the tide of the war. Life on board the destroyers was very different to those who served on the larger carriers and battleships. The tight, cramped living and fighting quarters were closer to those on German u-boats that the destroyers hunted with depth charges and sonar than the vast expanse of a United States battleship. Tactically, Wukovits explores the initial reluctance of the senior brass to adopt the use of the destroyers as offensive units instead of using them mixed in with other vessels or as escorts for cargo. Over time and through proving their mettle in battle, destroyers, called the "the cowboys of the fleet", were allowed to go on the attack as complete units and were very successful in doing so. While the story can at times get bogged down in naval terms and descriptions that may not be familiar to the lay reader, the action scenes are so vivid that one can taste the salty seawater, hear the screaming of kamikazes and smell the burning oil. This is where Wukovits' writing really shines. Descriptions of men standing tall on the bridge one moment only to be tossed around, oil covered, badly burned and desperately trying to avoid drowning the next gives a dramatic feel for the very thin dividing line between life at sea and a watery grave. It was "A hell of a way to die" as the articulate yeoman of the Howorth, Orvill Raines, puts it in one of the most moving stories in the book. Nothing shows the bravery and courage of the men of Desron 21 more than their ardent desire to continue despite knowing the fate the could befall them and for all too many tragically did. Through telling the story of the destroyers and men of Desron 21, Wukovits takes the reader on a tour of nearly every major action of the Pacific War. At times their duties were mundane and at times hellish but they were ever present. As Wukovits points out, Admiral "Bull" Halsey insisted Desron 21 be at the head of the naval party at the Japanese surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay for this reason. Their dogged action and seemingly endless participation in the war against Imperial Japan from start to finish makes them a fine example of the bravery and excellence that the US Navy became known for in the Pacific and beyond. Wukovits' account certainly does their memory justice and it is an important read about a vital contribution to US victory in the Pacific.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Noah Goats

    In Tin Can Titans John Wukovits tells the heroic story of Destroyer Squadron 21, a force of destroyers that courageously helped hold back the Japanese at Guadalcanal, survived (or didn't) repeated kamikaze attacks later in the war, and then eventually led the victorious fleet into Tokyo Bay at the war's end. I've read a few other good books about destroyers, including Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors and Halsey's Typhoon, and although both of those books are excellent, they only provide a very n In Tin Can Titans John Wukovits tells the heroic story of Destroyer Squadron 21, a force of destroyers that courageously helped hold back the Japanese at Guadalcanal, survived (or didn't) repeated kamikaze attacks later in the war, and then eventually led the victorious fleet into Tokyo Bay at the war's end. I've read a few other good books about destroyers, including Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors and Halsey's Typhoon, and although both of those books are excellent, they only provide a very narrow view of the war because each of them covers events that only lasted a day or two. Tin Can Titans gives the reader a view of what combat in the Pacific was like for the crews of destroyers almost from beginning to end. It includes stories of major surface engagements, shore bombardments, kamikaze attacks, submarine killing, rescues of sailors and pilots, convoy escorting, screening duty, and more. The tin cans were incredibly useful ships and this book gives an interesting, informative, exciting, and occasionally moving account of what the war was like for these ships and their crews. I read this on Kindle with an audiobook companion, and the reader for the audiobook did a solid job.

  8. 4 out of 5

    M(^-__-^)M_ken_M(^-__-^)M

    Tin Can Titans: by John F Wukovits definitely they are the Heroic Men and Ships of World War II's Most Decorated Navy Destroyer Squadron. Why tin cans because an enemy shell passed through their ships armour as though it was one a nickname coined by the men who served on them. At ww2 start many were outdated and therefore suffered sharp losses but by wars end they constituted the largest numerical type of warship 377 to be exact, who bravely fulfilled multiple roles such as anti aircraft platfor Tin Can Titans: by John F Wukovits definitely they are the Heroic Men and Ships of World War II's Most Decorated Navy Destroyer Squadron. Why tin cans because an enemy shell passed through their ships armour as though it was one a nickname coined by the men who served on them. At ww2 start many were outdated and therefore suffered sharp losses but by wars end they constituted the largest numerical type of warship 377 to be exact, who bravely fulfilled multiple roles such as anti aircraft platforms, convoy escorts, submarine hunters and these men always were out front and always looking for a fight and never willing to back down, destroyers a well fitting name. They led the way this Squadron all the way into Tokyo bay escorting Missouri where the Japanese signed their formal surrender to a long hard fought war.

  9. 4 out of 5

    David Zimmerman

    I have read more gripping war narratives, but Tin Can Titans still makes for a good read. For those looking for a book to fill out their understanding of the war for the Pacific from a navel point of view, Tin Can Titans will provide important insight into the role destroyers played in stemming the Japanese advance and preparing for the assaults that would drive the Japanese from their island fortresses. The narrative bogs down periodically, but always regains its lost momentum, stimulating fres I have read more gripping war narratives, but Tin Can Titans still makes for a good read. For those looking for a book to fill out their understanding of the war for the Pacific from a navel point of view, Tin Can Titans will provide important insight into the role destroyers played in stemming the Japanese advance and preparing for the assaults that would drive the Japanese from their island fortresses. The narrative bogs down periodically, but always regains its lost momentum, stimulating fresh interest in the men and ships it portrays. If you already have a keen interest in military history, you will not be disappointed. If you are merely curious, commit to reading it to the end, and you will not regret the effort.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    An excellent book on the men who fought in the most decorated squadron during World War II. The United States Navy's Destroyer Squadron 21 (Desron 21) who took part in every major battle in the Pacific during World War II. From Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima to the surrender of Japan at Tokyo Bay. An excellent book on the men who fought in the most decorated squadron during World War II. The United States Navy's Destroyer Squadron 21 (Desron 21) who took part in every major battle in the Pacific during World War II. From Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima to the surrender of Japan at Tokyo Bay.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bill Hart

    Excellent Read Facebook covers a great deal of the action from early 1942 until the surrender in Tokyo Harbor. It is well written and documents action of a number of the ships that contributed to contribute to the U.S. victory. Well worth the read!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    As he did with "Hell From the Heavens", John Wukovits has once again come up with a stirring recollection of life aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer during World War II, but several this time instead of just one. This is the tale of Destroyer Squadron 21, or DesRon 21 as it was known. From the terrible battles around Guadalcanal through the final surrender in Tokyo Bay, DesRon 21 was there almost every step of the way. The book tells the story of the various ships which made up the squadron, some in m As he did with "Hell From the Heavens", John Wukovits has once again come up with a stirring recollection of life aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer during World War II, but several this time instead of just one. This is the tale of Destroyer Squadron 21, or DesRon 21 as it was known. From the terrible battles around Guadalcanal through the final surrender in Tokyo Bay, DesRon 21 was there almost every step of the way. The book tells the story of the various ships which made up the squadron, some in more detail than others, by using personal recollections of those who were there and official ship records. The tales cover a gamut of missions: convoy escorts, night-time bombardments, anti-submarine actions, invasion bombardments, rescue of fellow sailors and/or airmen, picket duty and of course, naval combat. The squadron's actions around Guadalcanal, The Slot and the other Solomon Isles take up about half the book and comprise the majority of the naval combat, followed by events in New Guinea, the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. As you read about the exploits of of DesRon 21, you'll not only learn about the horrors of naval combat in the Pacific, but you’ll learn about the brave men who came from all parts of the U.S. to serve their country. The book is filled with small vignettes from a variety of men who served, and these stories are woven nicely into the greater narrative. Some ships didn’t see much action as they joined at later dates or had shorter lives than their counterparts, but nearly all are represented in some depth at one point. The book does a great job of discussing the growth of the U.S. Navy from its shoestring days off Guadalcanal through the end of the war when it was the mightiest navy to ever sail the oceans. Along the way there are changes in commanders, tactics and weapons which helped make the final victory possible, although sometimes the changes didn’t always work out for the best. This book will really give you a feel for life about a destroyer and makes a great companion of Wukovits’ other works on naval combat. Definitely worth picking up!

  13. 5 out of 5

    stormin

    I'm a sucker--like a lot of people, obviously--for World War II memoirs, biographies, and histories. It's hard not to be a little cynical that everyone is chasing down the next Band of Brothers breakthrough, and I think that's part of the reason why we still generally maintain the overall mythos of World War 2 as the good war. Having reread Slaughterhouse-Five immediately prior to starting Tin Can Titans, I might have been a tad more jaded about that than otherwise. The tough thing to do is actua I'm a sucker--like a lot of people, obviously--for World War II memoirs, biographies, and histories. It's hard not to be a little cynical that everyone is chasing down the next Band of Brothers breakthrough, and I think that's part of the reason why we still generally maintain the overall mythos of World War 2 as the good war. Having reread Slaughterhouse-Five immediately prior to starting Tin Can Titans, I might have been a tad more jaded about that than otherwise. The tough thing to do is actually find a story that hasn't been told already, and here Wukovits seems to have really hit it out of the park. Destroyers, if you read the World War II histories of the Pacific Theater, often show up as afterthoughts. If you're reading a book from the PT or submarine point of view, then Japanese destroyers are the faceless enemy. And if you're reading a book with a grander scope, then the battleships and fast carriers are the stars of the show and the destroyers are faceless extras to flesh out the battle statistics. This is the first time I've read a history that actually took on the destroyer's point of view. If you don't know, the name destroyer comes from when the first ships of this type were designed to be large enough to escort large, capital ships but small and maneuverable enough to counter short-range torpedo boats. That's what the original name of this class of boats was: torpedo boat destroyers. The biggest difference between destroyers and larger naval gunships (cruisers and battleships) is that destroyers were relatively unarmored. They were also smaller, faster, and less-powerful, but the real difference was the lack of armor. That let them pack more of an offensive punch, but in the end it mattered a little bit less than you'd think because during World War II the prominence of naval guns really diminished. They were important for artillery during land-invasions, but for the most part ship-to-ship combat was dominated by carrier-based aircraft. As a result, the relatively low armor of the destroyers wasn't such a big deal, and they were able to perform a wide variety of tasks. This book covers one particular squadron from the early days turning the tide against the Japanese at Guadalcanal all the way through the signing of the peace treaty. It was full of interesting characters, heroic rescues, and close-fought, desperate combat. I'm definitely going to use it as inspiration for my sci-fi writing, since I think it will be fun to focus a little bit more on a smaller, more maneuverable warship instead of letting the battleships and carriers hog all the glory. (The realism of transplanting sea-based combat ideas to space is a topic for another day!) If you like World War II histories, then you will almost certainly enjoy this fresh, new take.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    I don't typically give a lot of credit to Alabama quarterbacks, but it's hard not to cheer for Hugh B. Miller, the former quarterback (and halfback and right guard) from Bama's 1930 national championship team. His is one of the many individual stories that highlights this book that traces the activity of Destroyer Squadron 21 (DesRon 21) throughout the Pacific campaign, from Guadalcanal to Tokyo Bay. Miller's story is the most memorable. Marooned and left for dead after the sinking of the U.S.S. I don't typically give a lot of credit to Alabama quarterbacks, but it's hard not to cheer for Hugh B. Miller, the former quarterback (and halfback and right guard) from Bama's 1930 national championship team. His is one of the many individual stories that highlights this book that traces the activity of Destroyer Squadron 21 (DesRon 21) throughout the Pacific campaign, from Guadalcanal to Tokyo Bay. Miller's story is the most memorable. Marooned and left for dead after the sinking of the U.S.S. Strong, Miller survived more than 40 days alone and barefoot, single-handedly fighting off Japanese patrols. He killed half a dozen or more with some well-thrown grenades before he was rescued. While Miller's story (and backstory) seems straight from a Hollywood script, other destroyer crew members are no less heroic--from Doc Ransom's tireless efforts keeping the crew healthy to (my favorite) Orville Raines, the doomed sailor whose prolific letter writing gives us a glimpse of what it was like to survive "the slot" in the Solomon Islands and the battles for the Phillippines before coming face-to-face with an oncoming kamikaze at Okinawa. I listened to the audio version during my daily commute, but since I'm not familiar with the layout of Destroyers (versus Cruisers or Battleships) I think the hardback book, with photos, maps, and diagrams of the ships would have made the experience slightly better. Still the audio performance by Robertson Dean was superb.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Vic Lauterbach

    This book is a throwback to the narrative histories written in the sixties and seventies, a form revitalized by the success of Band of Brothers. The focus is on the experiences of American destroyer sailors and the story is told from their point of view. There is very little information about the IJN. Because this is personal history, there is also very little technical detail. The first four chapters are essentially a prologue to the main story that follows the nine Fletcher-class DDs which for This book is a throwback to the narrative histories written in the sixties and seventies, a form revitalized by the success of Band of Brothers. The focus is on the experiences of American destroyer sailors and the story is told from their point of view. There is very little information about the IJN. Because this is personal history, there is also very little technical detail. The first four chapters are essentially a prologue to the main story that follows the nine Fletcher-class DDs which formed Squadron (DESRON) 21 in March 1943. What follows is often quite compelling, but if you're looking for a detailed analysis of the operations of Destroyer Divisions 41 and 42 in the South Pacific or a technical examination of pre-war U.S. destroyer design and its evolution during the war, from the Fletchers to the Gearing (advanced Sumner) class, you'll be disappointed. Issues like the defective Mk 6 torpedo exploder and the difficulties developing effective tactics to exploit the Mk 33 and Mk 37 radar fire-control systems are only touched on. The emphasis is on the men and their relationship with their ships as they carried out their various missions. That makes an exciting book, but one that often reads like a Hollywood war movie script. This book will primarily appeal to Naval buffs who like their history served up with minimal jargon and background 'noise.'

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    I'm a retired USCG person, but I love Iowa Class Battleships. So, why was I reading a book about Navy Destroyers, in WWII? Well, I like to be a bit rounded on these things, so I did it, and I'm glad I did. Although the book was not quite what I was expecting, it was still a good quick read, very informative and informational. I was expecting a general history of destroyers, in WW II, but what Wukovits provides is mostly the story of Destroyer Squadron 21 (DESRON 21) that served in the south Paci I'm a retired USCG person, but I love Iowa Class Battleships. So, why was I reading a book about Navy Destroyers, in WWII? Well, I like to be a bit rounded on these things, so I did it, and I'm glad I did. Although the book was not quite what I was expecting, it was still a good quick read, very informative and informational. I was expecting a general history of destroyers, in WW II, but what Wukovits provides is mostly the story of Destroyer Squadron 21 (DESRON 21) that served in the south Pacific during the War. He provides great background into the "Greyhounds of the Sea" (another nickname for Destroyers), many of the personnel who served, and the grueling combat action that occurred around island such as Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and others. If you're a WW II buff, especially U. S. Navy in the Pacific, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. He gets graphic, but not obnoxiously so. His is a story that needs to be told, beyond the stories of Aircraft Carriers and other big assets. The contribution of the destroyers cannot be overemphasized and should be told. I highly recommend the book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carl

    A well thought through unit history of the most decorated Destroyer Squadron of World War II. The amount of Hell Desron 21 endured in the early part of its existence (1942-43), when it was the only weapon that Halsey had to blunt the Japanese advance until the New Battleships and the Essex class "fast' carriers arrived was staggering. Nearly endless patrols and escort duty with no relief or breaks. Destroyer crews somehow managed to not only survive a truly monumental work schedule but excel at A well thought through unit history of the most decorated Destroyer Squadron of World War II. The amount of Hell Desron 21 endured in the early part of its existence (1942-43), when it was the only weapon that Halsey had to blunt the Japanese advance until the New Battleships and the Essex class "fast' carriers arrived was staggering. Nearly endless patrols and escort duty with no relief or breaks. Destroyer crews somehow managed to not only survive a truly monumental work schedule but excel at it punching well above their weight class. The only tiny caveat, I can mention is that Wukovits gets a little too emotionally attached and too rah rah American. couple that with a misuse of Japanese reports, particularly with regards to the Emperor Hirohito, to give an unrealistic simplified viewpoint of the Japanese war spirit instead of the far more nuanced approach to that complex issue that Ian Toll wrote in his larger work The Conquering Tide. well worth reading about an unjustly Minimized stalwart of the Pacific fleet which was absolutely crucial to victory.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pierre Lauzon

    This is a very good book covering the history of the use of destroyers in World War II. In particular, it covers the origin of and subsequent employment of Destroyer Squadron 21 and the Fletcher Class destroyers. The book addresses the tedium of life on destroyers (convey escort, screening aircraft carriers and the like) as well as combat action against a determined foe. Admiral Bill Halsey used destroyers to great effect when few U. S. Navy capital ships were available. He honored destroyermen b This is a very good book covering the history of the use of destroyers in World War II. In particular, it covers the origin of and subsequent employment of Destroyer Squadron 21 and the Fletcher Class destroyers. The book addresses the tedium of life on destroyers (convey escort, screening aircraft carriers and the like) as well as combat action against a determined foe. Admiral Bill Halsey used destroyers to great effect when few U. S. Navy capital ships were available. He honored destroyermen by having DESRON 21 ships lead the way into Tokyo Bay for the formal Japanese surrender ceremony. I would have given the book 5 stars but there were numerous editing mistakes, most due to lack of understanding of Navy terminology and jargon. The book would have been better served by a proofread by an editor that served on destroyers.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Robert Albright Jr

    As a teenager, I developed an interest in military history, especially the history of the US Navy in the Pacific Theatre in WWII. I read and re-read such classics as Guadalcanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis, The Two-Ocean War by Samuel Eliot Morison, Wake Island, and Silent Victory, among others. Tin Can Titans can sit proudly next to these classics. I knew that our destroyers carried a heavy load, especially in 1942, in the Solomon Islands. I didn't realize the extent of the burden they bore. Mr. As a teenager, I developed an interest in military history, especially the history of the US Navy in the Pacific Theatre in WWII. I read and re-read such classics as Guadalcanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis, The Two-Ocean War by Samuel Eliot Morison, Wake Island, and Silent Victory, among others. Tin Can Titans can sit proudly next to these classics. I knew that our destroyers carried a heavy load, especially in 1942, in the Solomon Islands. I didn't realize the extent of the burden they bore. Mr. Wukovits brings a lot of personal recollections to the history of these amazing ships. Very good book if you are interested in Naval History.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jesica

    I enjoyed this book immensely. The Pacific Theater is not a widely known part of WWII, with most emphasis of the war being that of the European Theater. The story of Desron 21 gives just a glimpse into the lives of the United States Navy fighting men that it makes one want to go and find more. The use of primary sources is so interwoven into the narrative that it made me feel I was with these courageous men at times. I won't deny that there were times that I shed a tear, not only in sadness but I enjoyed this book immensely. The Pacific Theater is not a widely known part of WWII, with most emphasis of the war being that of the European Theater. The story of Desron 21 gives just a glimpse into the lives of the United States Navy fighting men that it makes one want to go and find more. The use of primary sources is so interwoven into the narrative that it made me feel I was with these courageous men at times. I won't deny that there were times that I shed a tear, not only in sadness but also in pride for the brave acts of the destroyer squadron. To the men that held the line, I salute you.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Yaaresse

    3.5 My rating is more about my enjoyment of the book than the quality of the writing. It wasn't exactly what I was hoping for. The only way I can think of to describe it is that I was looking for something from about the half mile high POV, and this seemed to show either the 10 ft view or the mile high view and zoom too quickly between those two vantages. I think for someone who is a real WWII navy buff, this would be more appreciated. As someone trying to get a feel for my dad's experiences in s 3.5 My rating is more about my enjoyment of the book than the quality of the writing. It wasn't exactly what I was hoping for. The only way I can think of to describe it is that I was looking for something from about the half mile high POV, and this seemed to show either the 10 ft view or the mile high view and zoom too quickly between those two vantages. I think for someone who is a real WWII navy buff, this would be more appreciated. As someone trying to get a feel for my dad's experiences in some of these battles, I needed more context about how squadrons work and maybe a lot more hand-holding by way of diagrams, maps, what specs mean when talking about capacity or weaponry, etc.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Doug Gschwind

    Very interesting deep dive into the activities and events and sailors aboard the US Pacific Fleet's destroyers from the battle of the Solomons through to the surrender of the Empire of Japan on 2 Sep 1945. Makes me understand the importance of Guadalcanal and why it was so heavily contested. Really gives you a deeper understanding of what those sailor's lives were like during that time, and shortly thereafter, often being under General Quarters, their running nearly constant missions up the slot Very interesting deep dive into the activities and events and sailors aboard the US Pacific Fleet's destroyers from the battle of the Solomons through to the surrender of the Empire of Japan on 2 Sep 1945. Makes me understand the importance of Guadalcanal and why it was so heavily contested. Really gives you a deeper understanding of what those sailor's lives were like during that time, and shortly thereafter, often being under General Quarters, their running nearly constant missions up the slot and others in harms way. Had to have been quite concerning, to say the least, if you were a deck hand, or on the bridge, on the lookout for Kamikaze attacks.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lance

    Fine account of Destroyer Squadron 21, most decorated unit of its type in World War II, covers the exploits of these ships and crews from commissioning to the surrender in Tokyo Bay. Wukovits does a good job of weaving first hand accounts into the overall history and describes the numbing and enervating wartime routine as well as exciting battle scenes. Grammarians will note some run-on sentences and repetitive paragraphs, and a closer edit would have helped this account. But this is a solid nav Fine account of Destroyer Squadron 21, most decorated unit of its type in World War II, covers the exploits of these ships and crews from commissioning to the surrender in Tokyo Bay. Wukovits does a good job of weaving first hand accounts into the overall history and describes the numbing and enervating wartime routine as well as exciting battle scenes. Grammarians will note some run-on sentences and repetitive paragraphs, and a closer edit would have helped this account. But this is a solid naval history that gives the reader a look at an aspect of the war at sea that is seldom covered.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    An excellent story about the lesser known fighting ships of WWII in the Pacific. With the early catastrophic losses of battleships and cruisers, the U.S. was severely dependent on destroyers to keep the Japanese from completing their dominance of the island chain that extended to Australia. Key in this was maintaining control of Guadalcanal. The author does a great job of conveying the sense of urgency and near desperation during this crucial part of the war as well as the years that followed on An excellent story about the lesser known fighting ships of WWII in the Pacific. With the early catastrophic losses of battleships and cruisers, the U.S. was severely dependent on destroyers to keep the Japanese from completing their dominance of the island chain that extended to Australia. Key in this was maintaining control of Guadalcanal. The author does a great job of conveying the sense of urgency and near desperation during this crucial part of the war as well as the years that followed once American naval dominance was reasserted.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Don Halpert

    This book tells the story of the unsung heros of the destroyers in the Pacific war. Most of the history of that war goes to the Aircraft Carriers and the Admirals. But the destroyers were the mainstay of the war effort. They suffered high casualties and were engaged in battle more often than the carriers. The recollections and diaries of the individual sailors gives the author the details that make this a great recollection of that time. Highly recommended to anyone interested in the Pacific war.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Blazej

    I'm disappointed. The author loves quoting the characters in his stories but for some reason chooses to do it in shallow, short 'soundbytes'. It's often meaningless and adds nothing to what a simple sentence would convey. The entire book is also uneven, jumping from the strategic to the individual perspective and back even when there's no good reason to do it at that particular point. There are better destroyer-centric books available and Tin Can Titans isn't what I would consider mandatory. I'm disappointed. The author loves quoting the characters in his stories but for some reason chooses to do it in shallow, short 'soundbytes'. It's often meaningless and adds nothing to what a simple sentence would convey. The entire book is also uneven, jumping from the strategic to the individual perspective and back even when there's no good reason to do it at that particular point. There are better destroyer-centric books available and Tin Can Titans isn't what I would consider mandatory.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Paul J. Petersen

    Detailed and interesting historic account Historic reference but also very personal account of the ships and sailors of Desron 21. It reads well and tells about the naval encounters of these ships while also making a connection with the men aboard. I thought this book was well a well balanced journal of the ships and crew. This is a good read if you are interested in destroyer action and life aboard a WWII destroyer.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Scott Murray

    Glad I read this book. It was entertaining and well-written, and undoubtedly took a lot of research. For me, it filled in empty spaces in my knowledge of the Pacific war, specifically the role of the Destroyer. I did not appreciate how much work these sailors put in, nor how much damage a destroyer could do in the right circumstances. The destroyer O'Bannon is a great story, going from Guadalcanal to Tokyo Bay without a casualty. Well done, Mr Wukovits! Glad I read this book. It was entertaining and well-written, and undoubtedly took a lot of research. For me, it filled in empty spaces in my knowledge of the Pacific war, specifically the role of the Destroyer. I did not appreciate how much work these sailors put in, nor how much damage a destroyer could do in the right circumstances. The destroyer O'Bannon is a great story, going from Guadalcanal to Tokyo Bay without a casualty. Well done, Mr Wukovits!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Baxter

    I’ve wanted [email protected] #tincantitans by #johnwukovits for some time now and it didn’t disappoint. It looked at the role of the American destroyer squadrons in the South Pacific in world war 2. It always amazes me how so much of our education in nz was around the war in Europe , when the war in the pacific was so close to home. This book provides a factual yet very human view of the hell these men went through to protect us all. For anyone interested in history this is a great read

  30. 5 out of 5

    Geoff Habiger

    An emotional and detailed account of the men and ships of Destroyer Squadron 21 (Desron 21) that served in the Pacific theatre of WW2 from Guadalcanal up to the surrender of Japan in Tokyo Bay. John does an excellent job of not only recounting the technical aspects of the battles fought, but also the human experiences of the sailors - officers and crew - who served on these ships. You learn a lot about the men who served in the hardest working ships of the US Navy during WW2.

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