Violet Lightning: A Blueprint for Japanese Victory in the Pacific: 1941-1942, by John Eric Vining

Frank Frisson‘s review

Jun 22, 2020


I generally like reading about World War II. I can’t imagine somebody who doesn’t. My most favourite reading goal concerning this war has always been Japan and how, if I had to be honest, frightening her military’s airplanes seemed to me. I believe they were well-built aerial combat machines that gave Japan a lot of advantages.

John Eric Vining’s Violet Lightning: A Blueprint for Japanese Victory in the Pacific 1941 – 1942 is a historical war non-fiction novel that offers quite a lot of insight that readers who would love to learn more about WW2 Japan’s military and strategies should consider as a learning curve which to me, was very helpful.

The historical facts and phrases to be found in this book come from the labours of research and the works of popular historians. These historical facts helped the author in coming up with a possible answer as to what it would have took for Japan to gain the upperhand in a Pacific War during 1941 – 1942. Quite interesting to me, however, was that Japan had been a force to be dealt with. Its “Zero” and “Oscar” fighters, which I found quite exciting to learn about, are familiar to many who have themselves studied the war through various means. I can say for certain that this book will reveal facts that are new for them and that they will have a lot to look forward to.

Having some basic knowledge about Japan and other countries during this time period might be useful, but I wouldn’t worry as the author writes quite understandably which helps readers to learn and absorb things that are useful for a wide range of purposes. I love the entire format and there are two maps in the beginning for readers to go through before they start reading. It is divided into nine parts with twenty-two chapters.

Perhaps you haven’t learned of names like Iwamoto, Nishizawa, Sakai, and Anabuki. I read about them in the second chapter. When it came to aerial warfare during World War II, these were names that stood out. The author writes that they were “true virtuosos” of it. This is the first that I’ve seen their names mentioned (and I don’t know why I haven’t heard of them before). I would certainly like to learn more about them if I can find the time to do research of my own. Apparently, they were the scourge of the Pacific who did quite a lot of damage with the airplanes they flew. The name of the American Richard I. Bong also appears in conjunction with them because they scored a higher amount of victories than him.

The third chapter is titled “The Development of Naval Plans.” In this chapter, the author points to the importance of the Russo – Japanese war of 1904 – 1907 with regard to what would’ve happened in the Pacific during the first half of the Twentieth Century. This chapter explains how the Japanese came up with their plans, strategies, and tactics that they would implement in 1941. Further down the line, they were bound for a confrontation with the United States. I read that the enemies (China and Russia) Japan opposed were ones that had far larger man power, territories, and economic resources. It triumphed over both. This chapter shows clearly why Japan couldn’t have helped but come out victorious.

I liked reading about the battle strategy Japan used in her wars against Russia and China. It was sound and realistic. I also came across the names of men that I would like to learn more about. Aerial battles and bombing raids isn’t something that I think readers will like reading about. It has a bad effect on one’s mood, but perhaps in this day and age, it’s not a bad idea that writers should try to remind readers of how gruesome a war really is. There is a historical fact that I liked learning about. It concerns the Brussels meeting that took place on November 3, 1937. This is the first time that I’ve read about the “Nine-Power Treaty” and its members. This book is definitely one to keep for future reference.

The Zero is an aircraft I’ve heard about before, but I’ve never gotten the information I wanted such as that which is available in this book. The author’s hard work at producing new information about the Zero does not go unnoticed. “It may not have been necessary to replace the Zero in its designed role as a… ”

If there is something to dislike about the author’s writing, I guess the main thing would be that you’d want to have some knowledge of your own beforehand to better analyse the author’s work. He is an extremely intelligent writer, but he doesn’t always write in a good manner. More than once, I came across small mistakes that hobbled my reading. They are hardly noticeable enough to mention. I can’t say that readers will agree with everything that the author writes. The writings are good most of the time, however. The author gives dialogue as well. To be honest, it was pleasant to read, but not very helpful.

I think John Eric Vining compiled the most extraordinary piece of World War 2 Japan writing on the market to date. For me, he was definitely impressive as a writer as well as a researcher who has delivered something that goes well beyond the definition of the word informative. This book can be read with the assurance that it is written by the type of author who cares greatly about educating readers when it comes to military history. Readers will appreciate Vining’s effort to bring a battle to life, teach readers about aircraft and submarines, and reveal something new about Japan and this war to a great degree. I wouldn’t trade this book for anything else, but surely, I’d want others to read it and share their own personal opinions with the author, their friends, and me if they want to.


FF’s Star Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆