Research Starters: The Battle of Midway

The Battle of Midway

The Battle of Midway was one of the most important naval battles of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. It was fought between the U.S. and Japanese navies June 4-7, 1942. This battle turned the tide of the war in the Pacific in favor of the Americans. The Japanese navy wanted to eliminate the United States as a strategic power in the Pacific, which would have given Japan the ability to establish its Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Eliminating U.S. interference would also have extended the Japanese defensive perimeter in the Pacific.

The Japanese had planned to lure the American naval forces into a trap around the U.S.-held island of Midway; however, American code breakers were able to determine the details of the attack and defend against it. The Japanese navy suffered heavy losses including four aircraft carriers and a heavy cruiser, while Americans only lost one aircraft carrier and a destroyer. These heavy losses permanently weakened the Imperial Japanese navy, which had previously been one of the strongest in the world at the time. Whereas Japan had been expanding its territory before the Battle of Midway, after the battle, its empire slowly began to shrink.

Secondary Sources

The Battle of Midway: The Destruction of the Japanese Fleet (Graphic Battle of World War II) by Steve White and Richard Elson

Midway: The Battle that Doomed Japan, the Japanese Story by Mitsuo Fuchida, Masatake Okumiya, Clarke H. Kawakami, and Roger Pineau

Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway by Jonathan B. Parshall and Anthony P. Tully

Midway, Dauntless Victory: Fresh Perspectives on America’s Seminal Naval Victory of World War II by Peter C. Smith