Key Battles of American History
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Key Battles of American History

James Early
War has played a key role in the history of the United States from the nation’s founding right down to the present. Wars made the U. S. independent, kept it together, increased its size, and established it as a global superpower. Understanding America’s wars is essential for understanding American history. In the Key Battles of American History, host James Early discusses American history through the lens of the most important battles of America’s wars. James is an Adjunct Professor of History at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, TX. He has published one book and two scholarly articles. He is also the cohost (with Scott Rank) of the Presidential Fight Club, Key Battles of the Civil War, Key Battles of the Revolutionary War, and Key Battles of World War I podcasts.
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Guadalcanal Diary
April 20, 2024 - 58 min
In this episode, Dave and James discuss the 1943 World War II war film Guadalcanal Diary, directed by Lewis Seiler. The film is based on the book of the same name by Richard Tregaskis. The film recounts the fight of the United States Marines in the Guadalcanal Campaign, which occurred only a year before the movie's release. While the film has notable battle scenes, its primary focus is on the characters and back stories of the Marines.
G11: The Battle of Tassafaronga and the December Decision
April 17, 2024 - 49 min
In this episode, Dave and James discuss the Battle of Tassafaronga, the final major naval battle of the Guadalcanal Campaign. They also narrate the Americans’ November Matanikau offensive (yes, another one!) and the beginning of the final American ground offensive. Finally, your intrepid hosts discuss the Japanese December 1942 decision to…well, listen, and you will find out what!
G10: The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal
April 10, 2024 - 47 min
Undeterred by the failure of their October attempt to capture Henderson Field, the Japanese high command ordered that yet another, still bigger, attempt be made in November. This resulted in two massive ship-to-ship battles between November 13 and 15, in which dozens of warships and planes, plus over 3500 soldiers, sailors, and airmen were lost. Join Dave and James as they tell the exciting story of this epic naval clash, which has come to be known simply as the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
G9: The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands and More American Offensives
April 3, 2024 - 65 min
On October 26, American and Japanese naval forces clashed northeast of Guadalacanal in the fourth carrier battle of the war. Soon after this, General Vandegrift ordered offensives designed to extend the Marine perimeter both eastward and westward. And on November 4, the Second Marine Raider Battalion landed on the northeastern part of Guadalcanal and soon began chasing a Japanese force of 3000 that was trying to march to the west side of the island. The Raiders’ march, known now as the “Long Patrol,” would make Carlson’s Raiders legendary in the annals of war. In this episode, Dave and James narrate the thrilling stories of the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, the fourth Matanikau offensive, the Battle of Koli Point, and the Long Patrol.
Trans Oceanic Contact Theories
March 30, 2024 - 14 min
Have you ever wondered if there was a group to reach North America before Christopher Columbus? Find out more in today's bonus episode from another Parthenon podcast "History of North America." Join host Mark Vinet as he discusses the search for the first non-indigenous explorers to reach the North American continent prior to Christopher Columbus’ 1492 voyage.  If you like what you hear, subscribe to "History of North America" on Apple or Spotify and look for it on
G8: The High Speed Convoy and the Battle for Henderson Field
March 27, 2024 - 73 min
The Japanese defeat at the Battle of Edson’s Ridge did not deter the Japanese high command, who immediately began planning an even bigger effort to retake Henderson Field and to remove the Americans from Guadalcanal. The new operation was christened “Plan X” and would include massive air, sea, and land attacks on American positions. On the ground, this time an entire division would assault the American perimeter. The American defenders were spread thin and outnumbered. Would the heroic efforts of Col. Chesty Puller, Sgt. John Basilone, Sgt. Mitchell Paige, and countless other Marines and soldiers be enough to stop the Japanese onslaught? Join Dave and James as they tell this exciting story.
G7: The Battles of the Matanikau and the Battle of Cape Esperance
March 20, 2024 - 50 min
After the American victory at Edson’s Ridge, the Marines on Guadalcanal were reinforced by the 7th Marine Regiment, which brought the total US strength on the island to about 20,000. The American ground commander General Alexander Vandegrift decided to expand the Marines’ perimeter westward by attacking Japanese positions at the Matanikau River. In addition, an American naval force met a Japanese fleet at Cape Esperance, near the site of the disastrous American defeat at Savo Island. How did these engagements turn out? Dave and James will let you know!
G6: The Battle of Edson’s Ridge
March 13, 2024 - 51 min
On September 12, a Japanese force of several thousand attacked the Marines’ perimeter from three directions. The most effect assault occurred south of the perimeter, near a position that became known as Edson’s Ridge. The Marine defenders, including the First Raider Battalion under Col. Merrit Edson, were greatly outnumbered but were on good ground and were supported by highly effective heavy artillery. Join Dave and James as they discuss this latest chapter in the struggle for control of Guadalcanal.
G5: The Battle of the Eastern Solomons and the Tokyo Express
March 6, 2024 - 39 min
After the disaster at Alligator Creek, the Japanese decided to launch a larger effort to recapture Guadalcanal. The objective of this combined air, sea, and land operation was to wipe out the US carrier fleet and the Cactus Air Force and to land enough soldiers to defeat the Marines on the island. In this episode, Dave and James discuss the ongoing Japanese attempts to regain control of Guadalcanal in late August, including the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, which delayed, but did not prevent Japanese reinforcement efforts.
The Pacific - Part 1
March 2, 2024 - 71 min
In this episode, Dave and James discuss and review Part 1 of the epic 2010 HBO miniseries The Pacific, which follows the lives and wartime actions of three well-known Marines who served in the Pacific Theater: John Basilone, Robert Leckie, and Eugene Sledge. In Episode 1 of The Pacific, we are introduced to the three main characters and we witness the initial Marine landing on Guadalcanal, the Battle of Alligator Creek, and the Battle of Savo Island.
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Meet Your Host
Meet Your Host
James is an Adjunct Professor of History at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, TX. He has published one book and two scholarly articles. He is also the cohost (with Scott Rank) of the Presidential Fight Club, Key Battles of the Civil War, Key Battles of the Revolutionary War, and Key Battles of World War I podcasts.
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