In the Highest Degree Tragic

The Sacrifice of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet in the East Indies during World War II

Donald M Kehn

Publication date:
August 2017
Publisher :
Potomac Books, Inc.
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781612348209

Dimensions : 255 X 180 cm


• Explores the epic history of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet and shows the significance their long-forgotten sacrifice had in defending the Dutch East Indies from the Japanese in WWII
• Kehn uses extensive original primary source research, including voluminous documents, operational details, and first-person accounts, as well as rare Dutch, British, Australian, and Japanese sources
• The author has access to the Samuel Milner papers, the largest single collection of material on the subject and the most complete set of interviews with the survivors of the Fleet ever conducted, only recently becoming available
• The author has personal relationships with many of the survivors of the USS Houston, as well as numerous other veterans of the Asiatic Fleet, and uses their interviews and first-hand accounts in the book

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.