About the Book

Extraordinary Leaders is an account of the author’s uncle, Alfred Vernon Jannotta, Jr., who commanded a Landing Craft Infantry Large (LCI L) in multiple campaigns—first in the Solomons and later in the Philippines where he earned a Navy Cross, a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart. After the war, Uncle Vernon retired from naval service as a Rear Admiral. Juxtaposed with Uncle Vernon’s wartime service, recounted through numerous letters to his wife, is the wartime experience of Ensign Kotarō Kawanishi who was posted to Bougainville in the Northern Solomons. Kawanishi’s wartime service is based on diaries he wrote throughout the war.

The author edits these accounts and uses them as teaching tools that are still relevant in today’s leadership challenges. The book resonates with themes of leadership highly relevant to the 21st century including Transformational vs. Transactional Leadership.

This work is different from most World War II memoirs because of the juxtaposition of the written accounts of two combatants, an American naval officer and a Japanese naval officer posted to fight for control of the Solomon Islands. In particular, the main body of the book focuses on what it was like, both offensively and defensively, to fight for the island of Bougainville. This is a firsthand account that lasted throughout the war, between 1942 and 1945, by two of the opposing officers who fought there. This is that rare account of combatants explaining in their own words what it was like to be sent to fight in the Pacific until one side defeated the other.

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