The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors

The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour

by James D. Hornfischer, Doug Murray, Steven Sanders, Matt Soffe, Rob Steen

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Book Cover: The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors
Editions:Hardcover: $ 29.95
ISBN: 978-1-68247-338-2
Size: 6.63 x 10.25 in
Pages: 208

By James D. Hornfischer; Adapted by Doug Murray; Drawn by Steven Sanders; Colored by Matt Soffe; Lettered by Rob Steen

Adapted from the naval history classic and New York Times bestseller, The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors pieces together the action of the Battle off Samar, bringing to life a riveting story of heroism against daunting odds, duty, and sacrifice in a way never seen before.

In October 1944, Allied forces began landing on the Philippine island of Leyte. Quickly assessing the threat of the Allied invasion, the Japanese navy sought to counterattack. But with the island protected by the full strength of Admiral William F. Halsey’s Third Fleet, a direct attack was nearly impossible. Undeterred, the Japanese Admiralty deployed their forces, engaging the Third Fleet and retreating in a manner that drew the fleet into a hot pursuit. However, Admiral Halsey had been deceived, and the Japanese plan had taken his fleet out of position to defend the American beachhead. With the northern route to Leyte open and unguarded, the Japanese Center Force—a fleet led by the battleship Yamato, the largest and most powerful battleship ever constructed—seemingly had a clear path to the landing beaches on Leyte. Only one thing stood between the Japanese forces and the vulnerable objective.

Taffy 3, a small task unit from the Seventh Fleet was made up of destroyers, destroyer escorts, and escort aircraft carriers; thirteen ships with little firepower and even less armor. On the morning of October 25, 1944, Taffy 3 suddenly became the only obstacle between the Allied landings and the Japanese Center Force. Hopelessly outmanned and outgunned, Taffy 3 plunged into battle. The ensuing action, known as the Battle off Samar, became one of the greatest last stands in naval history.

Reviews:—Foreword Reviews wrote:

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Soldiers is an epic and thrilling account of naval warfare.”

—Trent Hone, author of Learning War: The Evolution of Fighting Doctrine in the U.S. Navy, 1898-1945 and co-author of Battle Line: The United States Navy, 1919-1939 wrote:

“A beautiful adaptation of Hornfischer’s stirring account, this graphic novel captures the ‘conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity’–to quote Commander Ernest Evans's Medal of Honor citation–of the officers and crews of the small ships who stood against the Japanese battle line off Samar.”

—Craig L. Symonds, author of World War II at Sea wrote:

“James D. Hornfischer is one of America's great narrative historians, and his The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors on the battle off Samar (October 25, 1944) details one of the great sagas of the Second World War. Now that story has been rendered in graphic format with drawings by Steven Sanders to engage an even wider audience. It is a reminder of the great debt owed by modern Americans to the sacrifices of those who served in the Second World War.”

—Paul Stillwell, author of Battleship Commander: The Life of Vice Admiral Willis A. Lee Jr. wrote:

“In 2004, James Hornfischer’s book on the gallantry of U.S. warships’ crews in the Battle of Leyte Gulf burst onto the scene as a supernova. It was the equivalent of a baseball player hitting a grand-slam home run in his first time at bat. His vivid word pictures conjured up a variety of scenes in the minds of readers. Now a team of skilled professionals has brought those words to life in another medium, thus providing visual images of the actions that Hornfischer described so well.”

—Graphic Policy wrote:

“The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors is an epic graphic novel that covers the wide scope of the battle through different viewpoints. The story by Hornfischer is well researched and exciting. The adaptation by Doug Murray is seamless. The art by the creative team is beautiful.”

—World War II magazine wrote:

“Fans of James D. Hornfischer, the acclaimed late author and naval historian, and his gripping 2004 account of the 1944 Battle off Samar will appreciate this vividly illustrated, easy-to-read adaptation of the original text and its fresh retelling of the Pacific War showdown that Hornfischer deemed ‘the ultimate expression of American heroism.’”

—GeekDad wrote:

“Murry does an incredible job taking a historical narrative and adapting it into a graphic novel…. As a history major with an emphasis on military history, I am impressed with the details of the ships and aircraft. In fact, I was impressed that the images show different colors or smoke trailing the shells of the ships. Since most images from the period are black and white, few people realize that the Japanese used different colors in their gunpowder so ships could tell where each ship’s shells were falling. It is little details such as this that really make this work stand out as more than just a story but a historical lesson…. The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors is a great graphic novel.”

—JAPAN Forward wrote:

“Using comic book style, the authors carry readers through a gripping episode in the WWII battle of Leyte, the largest sea battle in human history, viewed from both the American and Japanese sides…. This is a gripping tale and beautifully illustrated in comic book style. Even while knowing the eventual outcome, it is a page-turner.”

—The Fandom Post wrote:

“This hardcover, full-color book is beautifully produced and may hold appeal for fans of Hornfischer’s original work.”

—Arcadia Pod wrote:

“This book is very enjoyable and it will educate [you] on a display of peak heroism. Another grand slam by Dead Reckoning, always the best war comics out there bar-none!”

—Australian Naval Institute wrote:

“The renderings [in The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors] are impressive in technical detail and the drawn faces of the personnel are replete with all the emotional expressions of men under the stress of desperate action. This book will likely appeal to several classes of readers: a new generation of action comic enthusiasts, gamers and naval history buffs.”

—A Certain Point of View, Too wrote:

“This beautifully illustrated graphic novel captures the heroic struggle of Admiral Clifton Sprague’s Northern Group of escort carriers (CVEs), destroyers (DDs), and destroyer escorts (DEs) against Japanese Admiral Takeo Kurita’s powerful Central Force at the Battle of Samar…. Comic book author (and Vietnam War veteran) Doug Murray does a great job of adapting Hornfischer’s vivid ‘you are there’ prose in the terse, laconic style that is necessary in adapting a text-heavy book to a visual medium. Assisted by illustrator Steven Sanders, colorist Matt Soffe, and letterer Rob Steen, The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors is a beautifully crafted rendering of what is rightly called – as in the subtitle of Hornfischer’s 2004 best-seller – the ‘extraordinary story of the U.S. Navy’s finest hour.’ …. The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors is an artfully done graphic depiction of Hornfischer’s now-classic account of the Battle of Samar [and] is recommended for anyone who is interested in World War II, naval history, or the comic book genre.”

—Diane Reviews Books wrote:

“With its bright and beautiful seascapes, The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors is beautiful. It sets the scene for a David vs. Goliath battle between the United States and Japanese navies. I learned a lot about how WWII naval warfare and communication worked (or didn’t work) without reading a dense history textbook or memoir. I recommend it to anyone looking for an up-close look at World War II naval warfare.”

—Mindjacked wrote:

“This is a wonderful account and awesomely illustrated book on the battle of Samar. It shows the heroism, and honor of the sailors that fought that battle against the odds and won. If you like Naval history and great illustrations you will love this retelling and never forget the call sign Taffy 3. It actually makes the learning of history much more fun than I ever remembered.”

—John’s Notes wrote:

“The book is very engaging and the graphics are well done.”

—Virtual Mirage wrote:

“I highly recommend this book to those of you have children and grandchildren who have grown up in the age of the iPad, internet, sound bites and they may not sit and the original book itself. However, they might be willing to read the graphic novel and be moved by history.”

—Masked Library wrote:

“Every page of this book is riveting. The book does an amazing job of showing the strategy and near infinite variables which are involved for maritime battles.”

—Richochet wrote:

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors graphic novel is a faithful adaptation of Hornfischer’s book. It follows the overall path of the original. The adaptor and artist capture the climactic battle between the ‘tin cans’ (destroyers and destroyer escorts) and Japan’s powerful battleships and heavy cruisers…. Those who enjoy graphic novels will enjoy this book. It is also a great book to give to a younger reader as an introduction to the 1941-45 Pacific War and the Battle of Leyte. It is fast-paced and engaging. It is a worthy tribute to James Hornfischer.”

—Armchair General wrote:

“Adapted by Doug Murray, the book takes Hornfischer’s narrative and condenses it down to a 208-page work. The format allows for the authors to convey the experience through a visual medium. The book does a good job presenting the action in a way that the reader can easily follow…. It’s a medium that brings the opportunity to expose a new group of readers to the history that they might not pick up from the original book. This retelling of The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors [is] an engaging read.”

About the Contributors

James D. Hornfischer

James D. Hornfischer’s gripping account of the battle, based on declassified documents as well as extensive interviews with veterans, is acclaimed as one of the most compelling works of naval history ever published. Hornfischer’s awards include the 2018 Samuel Eliot Morison Award, given by the Board of Trustees of the USS Constitution Museum.

Doug Murray

Doug Murray is a comic book writer and novelist. He served as a non-commissioned officer in the Army in Vietnam and was the main writer on the popular comic book series The 'Nam, published by Marvel Comics.

Steven Sanders

Steven Sanders is an illustrator from Kansas City, Missouri. His work has appeared in the distinguished SPECTRUM anthology and has drawn a number of comics for Marvel and Image Comics.

Matt Soffe

Matt Soffe is a freelance colorist and illustrator originally from the North West of England, now based in California. His work has appeared in many publications over the last ten years, including 2000AD, Judge Dredd Megazine, and Heavy Metal Magazine, as well as with publishers such as Z2 Comics, Accent UK, Soaring Penguin, Printed in Blood, and Topps.

Rob Steen

Rob Steen has lettered books for most major comic companies. He is also the illustrator of the Flanimals children’s book series written by Ricky Gervais, and the children’s book Erf, written by Garth Ennis. His latest book is The Pod.