Looking toward the heavens, the destroyer crew saw what seemed to be the entire Japanese Air Force assembled directly above. Hell was about to be unleashed on them in the largest single-ship kamikaze attack of World War II.On April 16, 1945, the crewmen of the USS Laffey were battle hardened and prepared. They had engaged in combat off the Normandy coast in June 1944. They had been involved in three prior assaults of enemy positions in the Pacific,at Leyte and Lingayen in the Philippines and at Iwo Jima. They had seen kamikazes purposely crash into other destroyers and cruisers in their unit and had seen firsthand the bloody results of those crazed tactics. But nothing could have prepared the crew for this moment,an eighty-minute ordeal in which the single small ship was targeted by no fewer than twenty-two Japanese suicide aircraft.By the time the unprecedented attack on the Laffey was finished, thirty-two sailors lay dead, more than seventy were wounded, and the ship was grievously damaged. Although she lay shrouded in smoke and fire for hours, the Laffey somehow survived, and the gutted American warship limped from Okinawa's shore for home, where the ship and crew would be feted as heroes.Using scores of personal interviews with survivors, the memoirs of crew members, and the sailors' wartime correspondence, historian and author John Wukovits breathes life into the story of this nearly forgotten historic event. The US Navy described the kamikaze attack on the Laffey "as one of the great sea epics of the war." In Hell from the Heavens , the author makes the ordeal of the Laffey and her crew a story for the ages.
Publisher: Hachette Books
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 541 g
Dimensions: 235 x 155 x 33 mm
Advance praise for Hell from the Heavens Evan Thomas, bestselling author of Sea of Thunder and John Paul Jones "John Wukovits is a master storyteller of battle at sea. With a fine eye for revealing detail, he re-creates, with sure and dramatic strokes, the almost unbelievable story of a destroyer, its dauntless captain, and its brave men under assault by a score of kamikazes in the climactic days of the Pacific War. A great read about one of the Navy's most stirring single-ship actions." Bruce Henderson, coauthor of the New York Times bestseller And the Sea Will Tell "Inspiring true story of a legendary World War II warship that famously refused to die and her intrepid crew of tin can soldiers who fought their way across the seas from Normandy to Okinawa. John Wukovits's Hell from the Heavens is naval history at its compelling best." Flint Whitlock, editor of WWII Quarterly "John Wukovits is one of those rare authors with the ability to capture the stink, the heat, and the fear of battle. In Hell from the Heavens, he almost without mercy thrusts the reader into the terrifying experience of being on the receiving end of Japanese suicide attacks. If your palms aren't sweating while reading this book, you need to have your vital signs checked!" Stephen Harding, author of the New York Times bestseller The Last Battle "Well researched and finely written, Hell from the Heavens brings vividly to life the story of USS Laffey's life-or-death struggle against kamikazes determined to send her to the bottom. The story of 'The Ship That Wouldn't Die' is a nail-biter, and John Wukovits tells it with panache." Kirkus Reviews, 2/15/15 "The incredible story of the 'destroyer with a heart that couldn't be broken'... For WWII buffs, surely, but also for general readers looking to understand the damage inflicted and the terror inspired by the Japanese suicide squadrons." Roanoke Times, 4/5/15 "A stirring account of the ordeal of the USS Laffey." Bookreporter.com, April 2015 "Wukovits breathes life into the story of this nearly forgotten historic event." New York Journal of Books, 4/6/15 "Well-researched...For a well-written story of a truly epic World War II fight, one should not hesitate with this volume. It is highly recommended." Notre Dame Magazine, Spring issue "Through interviews with survivors and the memoirs of crew members, the author re-creates the events of that 80-minute firefight and the return of the crippled American warship from Okinawa to Seattle, where the surviving shipmates were welcomed as heroes." San Francisco Book Review, 4/28/15 "Vivid detail...Wukovits lays bare the desperation of the Japanese high command." InfoDad blog, 4/30/15 "The overarching story of men battling long odds, fighting opponents who were not only ready but also determined to die rather than surrender, is one that continues to resonate today." WWII History, August 2015 "Well researched and pulls the reader into the story of the ship and her crew...An interesting look at a harrowing 80-minute period when a group of sailors faced the worst their enemies could throw at them, paid a fearful toll, but emerged victorious." Proceedings (magazine of the U.S. Naval Institute), August 2015 "Wukovits does an admirable job balancing the crew's experiences with historic events, strategic and tactical considerations, and enemy perspectives, which are too often absent in our World War II libraries." Military Review, January-February 2016 "[A] gripping story...which reads like a thrilling war novel...Wukovits's account of this action is spellbinding in its drama and detail...This book presents a personal, brutal account of war at sea...richly documented with primary sources...[An] outstanding book...While the events described are seven decades old, this book holds priceless lessons for men and women who today take fast ships into harm's way."