50 photographs, index
In the Highest Degree Tragic tells the heroic story of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet’s sacrifice defending the Dutch East Indies from the Japanese in the first three months of the Pacific War. Donald M. Kehn Jr.’s comprehensive narrative history of the operations involving multiple ships and thousands of men dramatically depicts the chaotic nature of these battles. His research has uncovered evidence of communications failures, vessels sinking hundreds of miles from where they had been reported lost, and entire complements of men simply disappearing off the face of the earth.
Kehn notes that much of the fleet went down with guns blazing and flag flying, highlighting, where many others have failed to do so, the political and strategic reasons for the fleet’s deployment to the region in the first place. In the Highest Degree Tragic rectifies the historical record, showcasing how brave yet all-too-human sailors and officers carried out their harrowing tasks. Containing rare first-person accounts and anecdotes, from the highest command echelons down to the lowest enlisted personnel, Kehn’s book is the most comprehensive and exhaustive study to date of this important part of American involvement in World War II.