I've read a thousand books about WWII, many of them about the Pacific theater. But this book is just amazing -- the story of the great events (Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Midway)told from the point of view of an enlisted man who lived the life of an ordinary sailor while the admirals were plotting grand strategy. It's impossible to get across how poignant and exciting this book is: you feel as though you were 18 years old, growing up in the waning years of the Depression, and then wandered into the Navy just before all hell broke loose at Pearl and America was plunged into the greatest chapter in her history. Kernan captures the gritty details of daily life in the Navy -- the slow, mind-numbing tedium of chipping rust off the anchor chain of a aircraft carrier, each link 3 feet long, the gunner's mate who stays drunk on the alcohol used to clean bombsites, the insanity of the greasy, heaving deck of a carrier as planes return from their missions, with damaged planes instantly and uncermoniously dumped over the side to make room for the next to land. The account of Midway -- the dive bomber pilots nursing their planes home, low on gas, then landing with difficulty, then getting out of the cockpit and jumping up and down on the deck and shouting and laughing, wild with excitement because they had just singlehandedly destroyed the Japanese navy in an action lasting only a few minutes -- is something that will stay in my mind forever. Kernan is a brilliant writer. There's nothing "literary" about Crossing the Line: anyone can read it and will just be swept along by the story, the way I was.