With the long, bloody Guadalcanal campaign coming to a close in early 1943, the United States had turned the tide of the war in the Pacific. After Japan had brushed aside everything in its path in its heady, unstoppable advance across the Pacific in the war’s first months, everything had now begun to turn. 

The Japanese were turned back in the Battle of the Coral Sea, then six months after the debacle at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Midway, losing four of their top aircraft carriers. Then in August of 1942, the U.S. invaded Guadalcanal. The Japanese and Americans fought over the island until January 1943, when the island was secured. 

Guadalcanal is the key backdrop in “Operation Vengeance” the riveting new book by NY Times best-selling author and former Air Force pilot Dan Hampton. SOFREP was fortunate enough to get an advanced copy of the book for review. We also recently had Hampton as a guest on our upcoming podcast episode where we discussed his book. 

Just after the first Japanese land defeat in the war, the United States learned that Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet, was planning on visiting the forward areas to inspect the troops and boost morale. 

He was an icon in the Japanese navy and the architect of the raid on Pearl Harbor. The loss of him would be another devastating loss for the Japanese war effort and take away arguably their greatest tactician. Yamamoto knew America well. He had gone to Harvard, spent time in Washington as a naval attaché, and was well aware of America’s industrial might. He knew that Japan had to defeat the Americans quickly in the Pacific or it would be overwhelmed by the sheer number of American might. American intelligence had broken the Japanese codes and learned of Yamamoto’s itinerary.

His quote about going to war with America was foreboding and ominous and proven right. 

He told Japan’s Prime Minister Prince Konoe, “If I am told to fight regardless of consequence, I shall run wild for the first six months or a year, but I have utterly no confidence for the second or third years.”