8 May 1942: USS Lexington: New book tells the story of a valiant ship



Stay the Rising Sun
The True Story of USS Lexington, Her Valiant Crew, and Changing the Course of World War II
By Phil Keith

Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages, RRP A$45.00
ISBN: 9780760347416
Publisher: Zenith Press

I had every intention of doing quite a number of blog posts before Christmas but illness got in the way, I’m afraid. So I am trying to catch up and give you some interesting books to consider.

Stay the Rising Sun came across my desk mid year and I think it will be of interest to Australian readers with its focus on the USS Lexington’s role in the Battle of the Coral Sea. RAN ships took part in the Task group alongside the Lexington.

The Lexington was one of the US Navy’s first aircraft carriers. It was commissioned in 1928. It was the forerunner of a class of ship that enabled the development of naval aviation as we know it today.

The ship had been at sea when Pearl Harbor was attacked on 7 December 1941.

It was during the Battle of the Coral Sea, 5 months later, that the ship was badly damaged, although initial reports had under-estimated the extent of the damage. Despite valiant efforts to keep the ship afloat, at 1707 hrs on 8 May 1942 the order was finally given to abandon ship. Of the complement of 2,951, 2,735 were evacuated.

Back in the US, another carrier was nearly ready for launch when the news arrived of the fate of the USS Lexington, so the navy changed her name to Lexington, confusing the Japanese.

Lexington’s legacy did not end with her demise, however. Although the battle was deemed a tactical success for the Japanese, it turned out to be a strategic loss: for the first time in the war, a Japanese invasion force was forced to retreat.

The lessons learned by losing the Lexington at Coral Sea impacted tactics, air wing operations, damage control, and ship construction.

This book is set out like a ship’s log, but with much more emphasis on the narrative. In fact, it has been well-received with many good comments on Amazon.com.

There is a more detailed review of the book at this link:

For anyone interested in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the fate of the original USS Lexington in particular, this book will be a welcome addition to the bookshelves.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Phil Keith is a historian, ex-navy pilot and Harvard graduate. He served in the Vietnam War with distinction as a naval aviator.


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