Key Battles of American History Episodes

Show notes for all the latest episodes of Key Battles of American History.

Show notes for all the latest episodes of Key Battles of American History.


Soldiers, Marines and Aviators

In this and the next episode, James and Scott take a break from the military narrative to zoom in and take a look at the lives and experiences of common soldiers, marines, and pilots on both the Japanese and American sides.  What backgrounds did they come from?  What was their…

Guadalcanal (Key Battle 4), Part 4

After the failed October Japanese attack on Henderson Field and the American fleet’s repeated prevention of Japanese efforts to reinforce and resupply the island, the Japanese army on Guadalcanal became increasingly hungry, disease-ridden, and depleted in numbers.  After successful American attacks on the eastern part of the island (the “Long…

Guadalcanal (Key Battle 4), Part 3

In October and November of 1942, the Japanese fleet near Guadalcanal kept trying to bring supplies and reinforcements to the island, while the American navy tried to stop this. As a result, no fewer than three naval engagements occurred in these two months: the Battle of Cape Esperance, the Battle…

Guadalcanal (Key Battle 4), Part 2

In the first week after their landing, the Americans seized the Japanese airstrip and constructed a perimeter around it.  But in the next month, the Japanese launched two attacks to try to regain it.  The second one nearly succeeded.  In this episode, James and Scott narrate these two attacks (known,…

Guadalcanal (Key Battle 4), Part 1

After overwhelmingly defeating the Japanese fleet at Midway, American military leaders decided to go on the offensive.  The first major target would be a group of islands in the eastern part of the Solomon Islands, the most prominent of which was Guadalcanal.  Japanese forces had begun constructing an airfield on…

Midway (Key Battle 3)

Thanks to the American code breakers at “Station Hypo” on Oahu, led by the brilliant and quirky Joe Rochefort, American naval leaders knew of Yamamoto’s plan to attack Midway.  This knowledge turned hunter into prey and prey into hunter.  When Fleet Commander Chuichi Nagumo and the Japanese attack fleet arrived,…

Yamamoto Rolls the Dice

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 inflicted great damage on the American Pacific Fleet, but it left one group of American ships untouched: the aircraft carriers. In early 1942, Japanese Admiral Yamamoto decided to finish the job that his fleet had begun the previous December.  Yamamoto…

The Coral Sea (Key Battle 2)

Following up on their stunning military successes of late 1941 and early 1942, Japan’s leaders decided to capture the key Allied port of Port Moresby on the southern coast of New Guinea.  They also hoped to cut off the critical American supply line from Hawaii to Australia.  Unbeknownst to the…

The Japanese Blitzkrieg

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, they were just getting started.  Over the next 5 months, Japan rapidly and overwhelmingly conquered several European and colonial possessions in southeast Asia, including Guam, Malaya, Wake Island, Hong Kong, Burma, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines.  At the…

America Gears Up for War

Between 1939 and 1941, the United States began increasing the size of its military forces while it ramped up war production.  After Pearl Harbor, these processes went into overdrive, with the result that several million Americans served in uniform in the war years, while America quickly became the world’s greatest…

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