There hasn’t been a comprehensive biography of Fleet Adm. Nimitz since Craig Symonds’ mentor E.B. Potter wrote Nimitz in 1976 – and this isn’t it either. Instead, Symonds has written an account of Nimitz’ command leadership during the Pacific War, leaving out, except where a look back is necessary, Nimitz’ prewar career.
As a result, the book focuses on what readers are most interested in – what did Nimitz do during the war, why, and what effect did it have on the course of the war?
I am familiar with Symonds’ prior work – I have read and listened to his book on Midway multiple times, as well as his his overall book on the history of the war at sea, and had the pleasure of meeting and conversing with him at length about Midway and Dick Best at the 2019 World War II symposium in New Orleans, where I brought first editions of all his books, which he was kind enough to sign. I don’t mean the battle of Midway, by the way – I mean the movie Midway where we compared impressions on the historical accuracy of the movie. He was, as you might expect, less enthusiastic than I was, although I recall we both would have loved to see Dick Best’s reaction to his movie portrayal.
This is the point where I usually complain that I had a problem because I was reading the book at the same time I was reading another book on the same subject. I didn’t have that problem here – I’m actually watching Prof. Symonds’ lectures on the Pacific war through a Great Courses program, so I had the benefit of hearing his voice as I was reading his words – it might as well have been an audiobook.
But it is a very good addition to the literature on an extraordinary individual, and I highly recommend it. The Potter book is good for background, but it was nice not to have to slog through the long peacetime career.