APL Colloquium

September 30, 2022

Colloquium Topic: What Was Nimitz Thinking?: An Analysis of American Battle Planning for Midway

This talk will cover the following topics:

  • A quick summarization of the Battle, its origins, outcome, and strategic implications
  • A detailed look at how Admiral Chester Nimitz, the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, approached planning for the battle, particularly in light of the long odds he potentially faced, and conflicting intelligence estimates regarding Japanese forces. I will show that the role of “Point Luck,” which was the rallying point for the U.S. carriers prior to the battle, has been misunderstood in every subsequent history of the battle, but acted as an important tool in how Nimitz approached risk management for the battle.
  • Last, various counterfactual scenarios around the battle will be examined using a newly-published stochastic model. This approach yields some interesting conclusions, and results in new understandings regarding the likely outcomes for the Japanese given their own battle plan and scouting.

Colloquium Speaker: Jonathan Parshall

Jonathan Parshall is an independent WWII scholar. He is co-author of Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway, which is widely acclaimed as the definitive account of that crucial battle. He is also co-author of the shortly forthcoming Fighting in the Dark: Naval Combat at Night, 1904-1944. Parshall has been widely published in the Naval War College Review, Naval Institute Proceedings, Naval History magazine, WWII magazine, Wartime (the journal of the Australian War Memorial), and others. He established “The Imperial Japanese Navy Homepage” (www.combinedfleet.com) at the dawn of the internet in 1995, and has been its curator since.

Parshall has also been a long-time lecturer for the U.S. Naval War College, and a frequent speaker at the National WWII Museum, the National Museum of the Pacific War, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, and others. He has appeared on the Discovery Channel, History Channel, Smithsonian, the BBC, and most recently on NetFlix’s “Road to Victory” series. He was a technical advisor to the remake of the movie “Midway,” as well as other TV shows. His research for the past twelve years has focused on a forthcoming new history of the year 1942. Jon lives in Minneapolis with his wife, two children, and two cats. In addition to writing, he enjoys cycling with his spouse, traveling, playing the bass and drums, and mixing a great cocktail.