On the morning of June 7, 1942, six months to the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the USS Yorktown "turned over on her port side and sank in about 3,000 fathoms of water with all battle flags flying." Many of her men watched from the decks of the Vireo, the Benham, the Hughes, and the Hammann, weeping as the Old Lady went down. The Battle of Midway was finally over. Though the Yorktown was lost, the battle was won--what John Keegan has called "as great a reversal of strategic fortune as the naval world has ever seen." From that point on, the Japanese remained primarily on the defensive at sea.
On the morning of May 19, 1998, Robert D. Ballard stared into a video monitor hoping for a glimpse of metal on the bottom of the sea. "Thar she blows! Bingo!" After almost three weeks out, painstakingly scanning the ocean floor with high-altitude sonar, and many months of research and planning, Ballard and his crew had spotted the Yorktown some three miles down. The wreck was in remarkably good condition: "It was as if we had stumbled on the ship a few minutes after it made its death plunge."
In Return to Midway, Ballard weaves a compelling narrative, blending the story of the famous battle with his battle to find the sunken ships--the Yorktown and the USS Hammann, as well as four Japanese aircraft carriers. First-hand accounts by the men who were there, including two Japanese and two American servicemen who joined Ballard and his crew for the hunt, as well as paintings and archival photographs, detail the battle in all its horror, while capturing the honor of the men who fought on both sides. Military-history buffs will find this book--the first in decades specifically about the Battle of Midway--especially valuable, though fans of Ballard's work as an oceanographer will be equally captivated. --Sunny Delaney