Monday, September 7, 2009

The Lusitania Story

By Mitch Peeke, Mitch Peeke & Mitch Peeke Page
192 pages US Naval Institute Press 978-1591144731
The 1915 sinking of the Cunard liner Lusitania by German submarines sparked a firestorm of demand for U.S. intervention in World War I. Attacked without warning; the ship went down in twenty minutes with more than 1,100 passengers lost including 124 Americans. This riveting account, written by leading members of the Lusitania Historical Society in cooperation with the owner of the ship's wreckage, provides a concise history of the Lusitania's construction, operational record, and new theories on how and why it sank so quickly. The authors capture the mystique of the famous liner--from her great achievements and groundbreaking technical advances to the rumors of a treasure cargo and consequences of fate. Illustrated with contemporary images of the wreck today, this well-researched volume will be enjoyed by those steeped in the Lusitania story and those exploring this pivotal event for the first time.
At first I was skeptical on how this book would evolve when I found that the authors actually “owned” the wreck of Lusitania. However I was not disappointed in what turned out to be an enjoyable read of a subject I had never read in depth before.
A cause of public outrage in 1915 the act was used a propaganda by both the Germans and the British with the latter denying for many years after the war Lusitania was carrying ammunition, desperately needed on the Western Front.
The narrative is well put together and flows well. The one surprise I had was the retention of British spellings from the original of this book originally published by Pen and Sword Books. Apart from that, the book is recommended.

Thach Weave: The Life of Jimmie Thach

By Steve Ewing
338 pages US Naval Institute Press 2004 978-1591142485
This biography completes a trilogy on the three Navy fighter pilots-Jimmie Thach, Butch O'Hare, and Jimmy Flatley-who developed sweeping changes in aerial combat tactics during World War II. While O'Hare and Flatley were instrumental in making the "weave" a success, Thach was its theoretical innovator, and his use of the tactic in combat at Midway documented its practical application. This portrait of the famous pilot provides a memorable account of how Thach, convinced that his Wildcat was no match for Japan's formidable Zero, found a way to give his squadron a fighting chance. Using matchsticks on his kitchen table, he devised a solution that came to be called the Thach Weave. But as Steve Ewing is quick to point out, this was not Thach's sole contribution to the Navy. Throughout his forty-year career, Thach provided answers to multiple challenges facing the Navy, and his ideas were implemented service wide. A highly decorated ace who took part in the Battle of Midway, Thach was an early test pilot, a creative task force operations officer in the last year of World War II (Operations Officer for Admiral John S McCain – grandfather of the current Arizona senator) and an outstanding carrier commander in the Korean War. During the Cold War, he contributed to advances in antisubmarine warfare. This biography shows him to be a charismatic leader interested in everyone around him, regardless of rank or status. His dry sense of humor and constant smile attracted people from all walks of life, and he was a popular figure in Hollywood. Thach remains a hero among naval aviators, his most famous combat tactic still used by today's pilots.
A few minor errors were noted – USS Canberra listed as CV 70 instead of CA 70, CV 15 (USS Randolph) identified by hull number only and the misspelling of the word “scrapping” as “scraping.”
A well known chain smoker, Thach is seen with an ever present cigarette in a number of the photos contained in this work.
Author Ewing is well known for his numerous previous works on US Naval Aviation history and this book is probably one of his best.

Spain's Men of the Sea: Daily Life on the Indies Fleets in the Sixteenth Century

By Pablo E. Perez-Mallaina
Paperback 304 pages The Johns Hopkins University Press 2005 978-0801881831
The ships and men of Spain's Atlantic fleets, crucial to the country's empire in the New World during the 16th century, are discussed in lively detail in this prodigiously researched book. Each chapter of Spain's Men of the Sea focuses on a particular aspect of the fleets, from the sailors' backgrounds and motivations for going to sea to their life onboard the great galleons, the most complex machines of the day. The author writes well, often showing a sense of humor, and, besides providing careful documentation, deftly brings the Spanish sailors and their unique nautical society to life. Voyages on the galleons were always dangerous, with looming threats from disease, pirates, tropical storms, and even shipboard brawls--and the book concludes with a fascinating look at the superstitions and religious rituals practiced by those who sailed the Spanish Main.
What an incredible feat the author has accomplished documenting life at sea in the 1500s. Much has been written on the Spanish Armada and the search for treasure ship wrecks, but little on what is was like to serve on these ships, often in appalling conditions.
A number of lithographic type illustrations, common to the period, are included.
Perez-Mallaina is to be commended for this work, which would make a fine addition and course in medieval or nautical history.

Management of Defense Acquisition Projects

(Library of Flight Series)
By Rene G. Rendon and Keith F Snider
Hardcover 220 pages AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics & Ast; illustrated edition 2008 978-1563479502
This book is a textbook in the Library of Flight series and is designed and published as such. The authors both teach at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California and know the defense industrial complex well. What is a mind boggling subject, modern day military equipment acquisition is put in terms a student of the subject would require. One can only imagine the endless number of essays that will probably emanate from this work.
Well done to authors Rendon and Snider for writing this work.

Dark Victory: America's Second War Against Iraq

By Jeffrey Record
203 pages US Naval Institute Press 2004 978-1591147114
A prominent national security analyst provides a critical examination of the origins, objectives, conduct, and consequences of the U.S. war against Iraq in this major new study. Focusing on the intersection of world politics, U.S. foreign policy, and the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Jeffrey Record presents a full-scale policy analysis of the war and its aftermath. As he looks at the political and strategic legacies of the 1991 Gulf War, the impact of 9/11 and neo-conservative ideology on the George W. Bush White House, and the formulation of the Bush Doctrine on the use of force, he assesses rather than describes, judges rather than recites facts. He decries the Bush administration's threat conflation of Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda, and calls U.S. plans inadequate to meet postwar challenges in Iraq. With the support of convincing evidence, the author concludes that America's war against Iraq was both unnecessary and damaging to long-term U.S. security interests. He argues that there was no threatening Saddam-Osama connection and that even if Iraq had the weapons of mass destruction that the Bush administration believed necessitated war, it could have been readily deterred from using them, just as it had been in 1991. Record faults the administration for preventive, unilateralist policies that alienated friends and allies, weakened international institutions important to the United States, and saddled America with costly, open-ended occupation of an Arab heartland. He contends that far from being a major victory against terrorism, the war provided Islamic jihadists an expanded recruiting base and a new front of operations against Americans.
The book contains no illustrations and makes for a tedious read, no matter how many facts, mistruths and a litany of claims and statements about a pointless war that to date has cost the lives of over 5,000 Americans.
This book is another in the annoying series on the war on terrorism from the Naval Institute Press. This rather Let us only hope that the publisher returns to what it does best – naval history – and stop straying off into new fields.
A better fit for the publisher would have been an examination of the naval part of the operation. The work would have been a better fit with another publisher.

A War of a Different Kind: Military Force and America's Search for Homeland Security

By Stephen M. Duncan
366 pages US Naval Institute Press April 2004 978-1591142201
The radically new homeland security, military, and legal strategies developed by the United States in the months following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon are given comprehensive treatment in this book by a former senior Pentagon official, combat veteran, and criminal prosecutor. Stephen M. Duncan draws on a lifetime of military and legal experience to examine the many questions relating to the role of the armed forces in homeland security, including elements of constitutional and criminal law, foreign policy, tradition and custom, federal-state and inter-agency relations, and politics, as well as military strategy and operations. Among the diverse subjects the author discusses are military tribunals and the International Criminal Court, the statute governing the use of military personnel in law enforcement, defense transformation, the constitutional power of the president, and the reorganization of the government to meet the terrorist threat. Duncan also discusses the strategy and tactics used in Afghanistan and Iraq and critically evaluates the nation's political leadership before and after the 9/11 attacks. His book gives readers access to a wealth of information essential to an understanding of the full picture and at the same time puts them in the midst of policy debates to grasp the immediacy of the situation.
This book is another in the annoying series on the war on terrorism from the Naval Institute Press. This rather drab, unilllustrated read will put any but the most interested readers to sleep. Let us only hope that the publisher returns to what it does best – naval history – and stop straying off into new fields.

Battle of the Atlantic

By Marc Milner 288 pages Vanwell Looking Back Press 2003 978-1550681253
A new and up–to–date history of the Battle of the Atlantic—from all sides: the British, Germans, Americans, Italians, Canadians and Russians. World War II was only a few hours old when the Battle of the Atlantic—the longest campaign of the Second World War and the longest, most complex submarine war in history—began with the sinking of an armed merchant cruiser by the German submarine U30. This book charts the fascinating development of U–boat capacities and the techniques used by the Allies to try to arrest the power of this secretive force.
Author Milner has done a good job of putting together a general overview on the Battle of the Atlantic, arguably the most important battle of the Second World War.
A very good selection of photographs is included however number 46 appears to have been a staged photo for Nazi propaganda as no submarine would have a watertight door open during a depth charge attack.
For the average reader of historical works this book would be a good fit.

SINK ALL THE SHIPPING THERE: Canada's Wartime Merchant Ship and Fishing Schooner Sinkings

Hardcover 192 pages Vanwell Publishing January 2005 978-1551250557
By Fraser McKee
The author's previous book, The Canadian Naval Chronicle, contains a chapter which gives brief details of Canadian merchant ship sinkings. While Fraser McKee and co-author Robert Darlington (who has self-published a history of the three armed merchant cruisers of the Royal Canadian Navy for which he refuses to provide review copies – never a good sign for a book’s quality) were researching those often-tragic stories it became apparent they deserved a fuller treatment in a book of their own. Here as a result are sixty accounts of ship losses, compiled from primary sources and, wherever available, first-hand interviews with survivors. Some are complete, with details of ship movements and attacking U-boats. In other instances there were no survivors and almost no record of what happened in those last hours.
The stories are grouped according to owners or other elements they had in common. Each includes a list of crew lost as well as sources used. Summary tables give details of ownership, convoy group, and means of destruction in a quick reference format.
Not a great deal of efforts to document Canada’s merchant marine in wartime, but McKee has done a good job here of correcting this work on the Second World War.
Losses are grouped together by common thread which is done in easily readable format. Ships from Newfoundland are included which I did not agree with as the then British colony did not join Canada until 1949.
Fraser M McKee deserves recognition for putting this fine work together; hopefully he has future projects in the works. Publisher Vanwell would be wise to use noted historians for their books instead of bus drivers as in one less than stellar effort of late.

NO HIGHER PURPOSE: The Official Operational History of the Royal Canadian Navy in the Second World War, 1939-1943 Volume II, Part I

664 pages Vanwell Publishing 2004 978-1551250618
This eagerly anticipated first volume of an updated official history doesn’t disappoint. Coupled with methodical research and a superb collection of many never before seen photos, this book is superb.
Throughout the Second World War, Canada played a vital role in contributing manpower and escorting supply convoys to the European theatre of war. The Royal Canadian Navy was called upon to participate in virtually every phase of war at sea. This is the official history of the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. This impressive book chronicles how the RCN expanded more rapidly and played a greater part in Allied operations, than could possibly have been foreseen when the war broke out. Over a period of six years, the RCN's contribution to the Allied war effort fundamentally transformed the RCN's nature. In 1939, the RCN was a small coastal defense force with 'blue water' aspirations.
Our Navy was modeled on the British Navy and formed an important part of the Empire Navy, a worldwide network of British naval communications, intelligence and trade defense. RCN officers and a large number of ratings served in RN training ships and establishments. Political, financial and material constraints limited the RCN's horizons, with the exception of annual exercises in the Caribbean. Yet, by 1945, the RCN had a record of service in the North Atlantic, the waters of northwest Europe, the Arctic, the Mediterranean and the Pacific. In short, the RCN had achieved the status of a 'blue water' Navy! As a result, tens of thousands of Canadians who had served in the Navy during the war formed a national constituency that had never before existed. No Higher Purpose was written by a team of professional historians and has been in preparation for fifteen years. Veterans of the RCN, current sailors and naval officers, and students of military and naval history in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany have eagerly awaited it. This book is a fitting testimonial to the men and women of Canada's Navy.
This work was published in both official languages under the sponsorship of the Department of National Defense and Public Works and Government Services Canada.
Not much can be added to describe this work but to highly recommend this as an addition to any library on naval history. Coupled with the 100th Anniversary of the Canadian Navy in 2010, these two should hopefully bring Canadian naval history to light to a new generation.

Tragedy at Honda

By Charles A. Lockwood and Hans Christian Adamson
280 pages US Naval Institute Press 2004 978-1591144670
Known to seafarers as the Devil's Jaw, Point Honda has lured ships to its dangerous rocks on California's coast for centuries, but its worst disaster occurred on 8 September 1923. That night nine U.S. Navy destroyers ran into Honda's fog-wrapped reefs. Part of Destroyer Squadron 11, the ships were making a fast run from San Francisco to their homeport of San Diego as fog closed around them. The captain of the flagship Delphy ordered a change of course, but due to navigational errors and unusual currents caused by an earthquake in Japan the previous week, she ran aground. Eight destroyers followed her. Only Pearl Harbor in 1941 would do more damage. In dramatic hour-by-hour detail, the authors recreate what happened, including the heroic efforts to rescue men and ships. In addition to presenting a full picture of the tragedy, they cover the subsequent investigations, which became a media sensation. The authors suggest that the cause of the tragedy lay in the interpretation of the differences that exist between the classic concepts of naval regulations and the stark realism of the unwritten code of destroyer doctrine to follow the leader. Admiral Nimitz's introduction sets the scene for this action-filled account of America's greatest peacetime naval tragedy in history, first published in 1960.
The book contains a number of illustrations; unfortunately the captions were cut off on some of the pages.
Charles A Lockwood is famous as being the commander of US submarines in the Pacific during the Second World War but turned his efforts after post war retirement to writing works of US Navy history in conjunction with others and by himself.
In this book he collaborated with Hans Christian Adamson to compile what is probably the definitive history of one of the worst disaster in US Navy history.

Destroyer: An Anthology of First-hand Accounts of the War at Sea 1939-1945

By Ian Hawkins
552 pages Conway Maritime Press Ltd 2005 978-1844860081
“All royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to the HMS Cavalier (Chatham) Trust, set up to save and restore the sole remaining Second World War British destroyer.”
The Royal Navy’s B Class destroyers were an example of the interwar destroyer construction program with the nine ships of this program were in the thick of the fighting through the entire war. Royal Navy destroyers suffered a horrific attrition rate from aircraft attack during the war as they were almost devoid of anti-aircraft weaponry. Planning in the 1920s and 1930s by most of the world’s navies was for a major fleet action to be fought in the manner of 1916’s Battle of Jutland with little regard to the menace of the aircraft.
There is no more vivid and poignant account than one at first hand, and Editor Ian Hawkins has done a fine job of compiling anecdotal and historical evidence to make this a fine addition to the historical record. This work should be a must read for serious readers of naval history.

Canada's Navy: The First Century

By Marc Milner
Hardcover 448 pages University of Toronto Press 1999 978-0802042811
From its eighteenth-century roots in exploration and trade, to the major conflicts of the First and Second World Wars, through to current roles in multinational operations with United Nations and NATO forces, Canada's navy has been an expression of Canadian nationhood and a catalyst in the complex process of national unity. In Canada's Navy: The First Century, Marc Milner argues that the history of the Royal Canadian Navy falls into three distinct periods. Until 1939, the navy was essentially a national orphan - neglected by government, spurned by Canadians, composed largely of expatriate Britons, and lacking a clearly identifiable national role. The Second World War and the postwar years saw that role defined. During the war, the navy underwent an astonishing expansion that brought together Canadian industry, government, and people to produce the third largest navy in the world by 1945. That navy made a decisive contribution to winning the war in the Atlantic, and, with the outbreak of the Cold War, went on to confirm Canada's new and important role as part of a wider western alliance in the defense of shipping in the Atlantic. Since that time, naval history has been a struggle to reconcile naval ambitions for fleet development with those of the government, and to find a national identity for the service itself. The result has been the renaissance of the last two decades, which has seen the navy re-emerge from the wreckage of unification as an independent institution and with the fleet completely rebuilt. At the end of the century, the navy is the most modern and capable of Canada's armed services, and having discarded the imperial cloak of its early years, it is now identified with the nation it serves. Milner suggests that this remarkable metamorphosis may have been brought about by the coalescing of the visions of the navy, the nation, and the state. How long this will continue remains for the next century to determine. Based on extensive archival research and interviews, Canada's Navy: The First Century is a comprehensive examination, certain to provoke discussion, of the navy which has a rich and fascinating history. This book will appeal not only to readers of Canadian history and naval affairs, but also to those interested in the interwoven issues of maritime politics and economics, as well as national and foreign policy, and defense and strategic studies.
A good selection of historical photos are included, some of which I had never seen before. I was disappointed that author Milner misidentified an Improved Restigouche Class destroyer escort as a St Laurent class ship in the final image in the photo section.
Milner brings to light both the highs and lows of the naval service and is not afraid to delve into equipment problems such as Canada being one of the last countries to use the Limbo depth charge mortar.
Marc Milner is one of Canada’s preeminent naval historians and fans of his will not be disappointed with this book.

Prisoners of the Home Front: German POWs and "Enemy Aliens" in Southern Quebec, 1940-46

(Studies in Canadian Military History
By Martin F. Auger
227 pages Paperback UBC Press 2006 978-0774812245
Little is known of the internment of German prisoners of war, civilians and merchant seamen on Canadian soil during the Second World War. In the midst of the most destructive conflict in human history, almost 40,000 Germans were detained in twenty-five permanent internment camps and dozens of smaller work camps located across Canada. Five of these permanent camps were located on the southern shores of the St. Lawrence River at Farnham, Grande Ligne, Ile-aux-Noix, Sherbrooke, and Sorel in the province of Quebec.
Martin Auger’s book provides a fascinating insight into the internment operation in southern Quebec. The study examines the organization and day-to-day affairs of internment camps, and offers an in-depth analysis of the experience of the German prisoners who inhabited these camps. The author shows how the pressures of internment, such as restricted mobility, sexual deprivation, social alienation, and the lack of material comfort created important psychological and physical strains on inmates. In response, Canadian authorities introduced labour projects and educational programs to uphold morale, to thwart internal turmoil, and to prevent escapes. These initiatives also aimed to expose German prisoners to the values of a democratic society and prepare their postwar reintegration. The author concludes that Canada abided with the provisions of the Geneva Convention, and that its treatment of German prisoners was humane.
A few minor quibbles with this work are the lack of illustrations and the textbook format, which includes a summary at the end of each chapter.
Prisoners of the Home Front sheds light on life behind Canadian barbed wire. The study fills an important void in our knowledge of the Canadian home front during the Second World War and furthers our understanding of the human experience in times of war.

UNKNOWN NAVY: Canada's World War II Merchant Navy

By Robert Halford
272 pages Paperback Vanwell Publishing 2000 978-1551250403
Compared to the well-published achievements of the Navy, Army, and Air Force, an ocean of silence surrounds the long gone Canadian Merchant Navy. Canada operated the wartime world's fourth largest Merchant Navy, almost all of it built in Canadian shipyards.
Second World War merchant marine veteran Robert G Halford put together this interesting work which is composed of historical research, personal recollection and anecdotal input.
Merchant seamen were largely denied veteran’s right and bonuses by most governments after the war with Canada being no exception. This historical slight has now been remedied, no doubt in part by the efforts of Mr Halford in putting this book into the historical and public record. Sadly with the ever diminishing number of veterans every year, it was tremendous that many of these memories were recorded for future generations.

Blunders and Disasters at Sea Hardcover

By David Blackmore
256 pages Hardcover Pen and Sword; illustrated edition 2004 978-1844151172
As any sailor knows, life at sea is hazardous under even normal circumstances. In times of war with an enemy intent on killing and sinking you it is infinitely more so. David Blackmore has researched 100 extreme cases over the span of history and written graphic descriptions covering the background, the events and the tragic consequences. Many were the result of enemy action, others (too many) straight human error and the remainder were caused by act of God, not least the weather. Examples include the Syracuse Harbour disaster (BC413), the rout at Aboukir Bay (1798), and the Prince of Wales/Repulse sinking due to lack of air cover (1941).
This anthology style book in easily readable and would make a fine addition to the collection of nautical history neophytes.


By Archibald Duncan
314 pages Paperback Germinal Productions 2004 978-1900355292
Originally published two hundred years ago, The mariner's Chronicle was the first comprehensive collection of disasters at sea in the English language and was an immediate best seller. Now made newly available, these stories of suffering and survival will have lost none of their resonance for all those interested in maritime history.
This work would be enjoyed by fans of the age of sail. Viewers to television shows such as Lost and Survivor would do well to read this book to see what it truly meant to have survived a shipwreck with little or no chance of rescue.

Good Morning Quadra The History of HMCS Quadra

By Suzanne Anderson
171 pages Paperback Half Acre Pub 1997 978-0921271116
This self-published work is truly a labor love by author Suzanne Anderson. A valiant attempt at a history of Royal Canadian Sea Cadet base HMCS Quadra in Comox BC. This reviewer attended the camp twice in his teen years I was interested in reading this book.
Primarily based upon anecdotal information, the work would have benefited from some serious research. One example of this was Anderson’s claim that retired destroyers HMCS Algonquin and Crescent were to come to Quadra as accommodation hulks, a fact that I had never heard of before. No source for this information is cited so can probably only be considered a rumor.
Not being a big fan of self-publishing as the finished products are usually shoddy from lack of proofing and editing; this book unfortunately follows the normal formula.
Unfortunately the definitive history of HMCS Quadra still awaits publication.

From the Wheelhouse: Tugboaters Tell Their Own Stories

By Doreen Armitage
182 pages Paperback Harbour Publishing 2006 978-1550173833
Towboats have been a part of British Columbia's history since 1836, when the Hudson's Bay Company's ungainly sidewheeler S.S. Beaver made the first powered tow up the coast. Over the years, tugs and their crews have towed just about everything, including food, machinery, rocks, paper, oil, salt, lumber, oil rigs, deep-sea ships, cars and houses. The humble but admirable tug has kept BC's marine economy vital and industrious. From the Wheelhouse captures the ins and outs of working in this often overlooked but important industry: relentless tides, wild weather, breakaway barges, the boredom, the practical jokes, superstitions, camaraderie and the agony of a failed rescue attempt. Author and historian Doreen Armitage interviewed 16 old-time tugboat captains, engineers and deckhands to assemble this intimate and often hair-raising account of life aboard BC tugs. Tugs are called to emergencies on the water, working with the Coast Guard and fireboats to save lives and retrieve damaged vessels. Storms, fog, riptides and whirlpools, bridges, even other boats operated by inexperienced or careless hands can put a tug and its crew in jeopardy. Beautifully illustrated with archival photos and images from the personal collections of the skippers who appear within its pages, From the Wheelhouse is both a lively, personal look at the history of towboating in BC and an engaging portrait of the famous coastal characters and vessels that have shaped this region's maritime history.
A few things in this book detract from what could have been an excellent book. Claiming the famous salvage tug was once in the “British Navy” is an outrage to any and all who proudly served on corvette HMCS Sudbury. The caption on the page 41 talking about an anchor light makes no sense as these are NOT fitted on masts. A few other photos in the book are published backwards, something that should have been caught in editing.
Despite lots of effort and lots of illustrations, I have to give this book a miss.

Launching History: The Saga of the Burrard Dry Dock

By Francis Mansbridge
Hardcover 226 pages Harbour Publishing 2002 978-1550172805
When Alfred Wallace opened a shipbuilding yard at the north end of Granville Street Bridge in 1894, he had little idea that the business would last nearly 100 years. Wallace Shipyards moved to North Vancouver in 1906, became Burrard Dry Dock in 1921 and Versatile Pacific in 1985, and saw changes in marine construction from wooden sailing schooners to steel icebreakers and high-tech search-and-rescue vessels. The saga of Burrard includes stories of some of the famed ships of the Union Steamship Company that opened up the BC coast; of Canada's post-World War I merchant marine fleet; of the St. Roch, the first boat to traverse the Northwest Passage in both directions and to circumnavigate North America; of the BC Ferry fleet; and of the warships and workboats that came down the ways into Burrard Inlet. It also provides a glimpse of the early years of the twentieth century on the coast, when ships were not mere transportation but also an opportunity to fuse practical workmanship with aesthetics.
Mr Mansbridge is well known to researchers of shipbuilding history for his assistance to persons all over the world over the years from his position of archivist for North Vancouver, from which he is now retired. Kudos to him for taking this information and putting it into a book that serves as a valuable addition to the historical record.
I for one was one of the people lucky enough to have used the services of Mr Mansbridge and in fact saw parts of this book while he was working on it.
Profusely illustrated with photos from the North Vancouver Museum & Archives, the work includes all the major projects over the years of the yard in table format.
One minor criticism is the use of “the” before ship names, which makes ship purists cringe. However this is only minor and cannot detract from what is an excellent work.

Defence Management Journal

Defence Management Journal
PSCA International Ltd, Ebenezer House, Ryecroft, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire ST5 2UB
This journal was recently brought to our attention by the publisher in the UK who have submitted their Issue 45 for review.
A massive 218 page A4 sized quarterly journal contains a wealth of information on today’s military in a background essay manner. Short essays on various topics are written by persons from with the industry detailing their firm’s work.
Also included was a novel concept in advertising, a CD included with Adobe Flash videos from Kongsberg and the publisher.
Being a quarterly however, it is not really source for news but still the work contained within. With most of the content submitted from various defense contractors, Defence Management Journal reads more like a catalog than a journal. However this is obviously the intent so that it works. (DS)

Beneath Southern Seas: The Silent Service

By Jon Davison and Tom Allibone
232 pages Hardcover Publisher: University of Western Australia Press illustrated edition 2006 978-1920694623
This coffee table sized book is finished in high gloss paper with the end product being a very attractive looking work. Authors Davison and Allibone joined HMAS Rankin for the trip home to Fremantle after one of the biennial multinational RIMPAC exercises in Hawaii.
Work and living conditions on the Collins class submarine are detailed in interviews conducted with several crewmembers and are coupled with a plethora of high quality images.
Interspersed through the text are snippets of submarine history from the Royal Australian Navy from the First World War to the present.
This book makes a fine addition to any library on submarines or the Royal Australian Navy. (DS)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

USS Charles Carroll APA28: An Amphibious History of World War II

by Kenneth H. Goldman
If you ask the average war or naval buff what the number one priority program of US shipbuilding in 1945, chances are they will guess wrong. For the number one priority program was the AKA/APA amphibious transport program. Although USS Charles Carroll was not part of this late war building program, this work certainly details what life was like for the crews.
It was one thing to demand vengeance after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii plunged the United States into World War II, it was quite another to have the wherewithal to carry the fight to the Axis powers' front door. The same two oceans that had previously protected the United States from foreign enemies now provided a like obstacle to projecting American military force in the other direction. Battleships, aircraft carriers and submarines could not do the job alone. It was up to the ordinary soldier to occupy and hold the enemy's real estate, and the Navy needed to commission vast numbers of transports to get them there.
The attack transport USS Charles Carroll was originally laid down to be a combi-liner, carrying passengers and cargo on the Gulf of Mexico trade routes. Most of her wartime crew had never seen the ocean let alone manned a vessel of her size or even handled the small boats that were the ship's main offensive weapon. Yet, together they would evolve into the fighting machine that earned six battle stars in the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, Salerno, Normandy, Southern France and Okinawa.
Lt. Robert W. Goldman, USNR (ret), joined the ship after Operation Torch and participated in her five subsequent invasions. I grew up listening to his stories, which, with the invasion maps, documents, photographs, issues of the Plan of the Day, etc. that he saved, form the backbone of this narrative. I have also met many of his old shipmates and have incorporated their recollections and, whenever possible, entries from the weathered diaries in which some of them set down their first-hand experiences, their fears while in combat and the capers they cut to blow off steam. As much as possible, the book evokes the feel of the times and the perspective of those who were there. The generals and heads of state set policy and strategy but it is the individuals in the field and on the seas who must translate the best laid plans into actions which spell victory or defeat. This is their story.
Born in Long Beach, New York, a graduate of Yale University, the author now lives in Southern California with his wife and pets. There he pursues the joint careers of writing, sculpting and scale model making. He has had three radio plays produced and has sold several screenplays as well as having published numerous Internet articles on naval history and scale modeling. His most recent modeling projects include co-designing a 1:16 scale kit of the Wright Flyer and building a full-size replica of that first airplane's engine for a restoration project at The Air Museum "Planes of Fame" in Chino, California. His wood sculptures can be found in numerous collections across the United States.
The book is self-published through the Trafford on-demand program. These programs allow many works which may otherwise slip through the cracks be published. The downside is that the Publisher only provides marketing services via their website.
The narrative of this book is done in a fairly pleasing style that makes for an easy read.
What really helps to bring this book to life, is the ample placement of maps, diagrams and photographs within the text. Appendices, bibliography and index make this work a valuable reference tool. This really helps the reader get a feel for what life was like onboard an amphibious transport ship.
Mr Goldman is to be congratulated for his extensive efforts to bring this story to print.

US Battleships 1941-1963 An Illustrated Technical Reference

by Wayne Scarpaci Self-Published 2008 ISBN 978-1-438257440 $32.95 Hardback 134 ppNevada-based artist and battleship aficionado Wayne Scarpaci has self-published this the first in a series of book on 20th century battleships. The pages are filled with tables, photos and copies of artwork by Mr Scarpaci. For some readers this may be sufficient for a readable work in the general category. 
It is a very ambitious effort to cram as much information as possible into 134 pages wherein lies most of the problems with this book. Most of the photos look like they came from 72DPI websites instead of the print standard of 300DPI. This causes many of the images to be of little use as they are blurry and with many technical features of the battleships not discernible. The same holds true for line drawings and artwork. 
The major problem with self-published books is always the lack of proofreading and the typographical errors in this work are too numerous to count. One blatant example is three consecutive ships were listed with the same international radio call sign. 
It's too bad that with some more polish, this book could have been very good. But unless an improved second edition is released, this book cannot be recommended.


An Illustrated Design History
By Norman Friedman
ISBN: 1557502501
As a great fan of the Norman Friedman/AD Baker III tandem of the US Naval Institute Illustrated Design History series, this latest work does not disappoint.
In this latest addition to his acclaimed U.S. warship design history series, Norman Friedman describes the ships and the craft of the U.S. amphibious force, from its inception in the 1920s through World War II to the present. He explains how and why the United States successfully created an entirely new kind of fleet to fight and win such World War II battles as D-Day and the island landings in the Pacific. To an extent not previously documented, his book lays out the differing views and contributions of the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marines as well as the British, and how they affected the development of prewar and wartime amphibious forces. Current and future amphibious forces and tactics are explained, together with their implications for ships and craft, from 40,000-ton amphibious carriers down to tracked amphibious vehicles.
One of the best features of this series is the sketches of the designs that never came about. Of great interest were two proposals during the Second World War for steam destroyer escort conversions. One armed with three 5in/38 mounts in shields for AA defense of the invasion force and another armed with five 5in/25 open mounts for additional shore bombardment.
About the only fault I could find with this book was an incorrect photo caption on page 480 showing the Tongue Point, Oregon mothball fleet. This photo is not of Tongue Point, which was originally a naval seaplane base with piers perpendicular to the shoreline.
This book is highly recommended. It contains the text of Friedman with the drawings of Baker and as such should prove indispensable to future researchers. I can hardly wait for the next volume in this series. (DS)

US Special Operations Forces

by Fred J Pushies
From the streets of Mogadishu to the caves around Kandahar, the military might of the United States in the twenty-first century often sits in the hands of a select group of elite fighters from all branches of the armed forces. If a rapid but low-intensity response is needed to help diffuse a potentially explosive or sensitive situation, the highly trained units of the Special Operations Forces are called in to take on the mission. Doing battle from the air, on land, and in the sea, these men must demonstrate the highest levels of strength, endurance, and intelligence to combat any enemy under every imaginable circumstance. They are called upon to undertake such varied tasks as airfield seizures, ambushes, guerrilla warfare, hostage rescue, intelligence reconnaissance, psychological warfare, or counterterrorism — often against an elusive or scattered foe. For each unit, author Fred Pushies offers inside information to explain every aspect of the work and history of these experts in unconventional warfare. Each chapter covers a specific unit, with sections on history, structure and hierarchy, training, weapons and equipment, and missions and tactics. More than 200 photos accompany this in-depth and essential guide to America’s elite fighting forces. Hardcover • 9" x 12" • 176 pp • 200 colorMr Pushies appears to be well on his way to be the CB Colby of the early 21st Century. Compiling a plethora of works describing weapons and equipment of the modern US military, his books are not too complex or technical. This makes them ideal for novice to experts in the field.
The publisher, Motor Books International, has created a very pleasing look and feel to these books. Full color illustrations at a reasonable cost made possible by having the printing done in Asia it would appear. (DS)

US Naval Aviation 1946-1999

by Martin W Bowman
Hard Cover 0750921757 1999 Sutton Publishing Illustrated
U.S. Naval Aviation, 1946-1999, presents a fascinating pictorial account of the changing role of U.S. naval aircraft since the end of the Second World War--from protector of the United States forces and symbol of American power throughout the world to international avenger and peacekeeper. Focusing on the aircraft and the personnel who fly and service them, the book features a huge range of different aircraft types--from the FD-2 Phantom (the first U.S. pure jet to land aboard an aircraft carrier) to the F-14 Tomcat and the F/A-18 Hornet heavy carrier-based fighters of the 1990s.
U.S. maritime power had its beginnings in the Pacific between 1941 and 1945, when carrier-borne aircraft won overwhelming victories against the Imperial Japanese Navy at Guadalcanal, the Marianas, and Okinawa--all but erasing the black memory of Pearl Harbor. Postwar America benefited greatly from German wartime aeronautical research and British developments in jet engine and carrier technology. As the Cold War intensified, America could not afford to lag behind, especially when the uneasy peace in Korea was shattered in 1950 and American aircraft were confronted with the MiG-15 for the first time. This gave rise to the development of supersonic fighter planes, such as the A-4 Skyhawk, used in the controversial bombing campaigns against North Vietnam in the late '60s and early '70s. By the mid-1980s, U.S. naval carrier-based aircraft proved a very efficient avenger--and deterrent--in the fight against international terrorism. During the Gulf War of 1991, naval units at sea joined forces with the land-based strike aircraft in Operation 'Desert Storm', when the U.S. Navy averaged 125-150 sorties per day per carrier.
U.S. Naval Aviation 1946-1999 contains more than 200 exciting photographs from official U.S. Navy archives and private collections--many of which are previously unpublished. Supported by authoritative and detailed captions, these images provide a rare insight into U.S. naval air power--ever vigilant and ready to strike when diplomacy fails.
Bowman has written the near perfect book for fans of naval aviation. This is believed to be his only work on naval aviation to date; the prolific author has written several titles on land-based airpower. This is reflected in the one major error I noted in his text - carrier aircraft are taken via elevator underdeck on below for service - not underground!
An amazing photo on page 136 shows an experimental radar fit to USS Constellation in 1972 of SPS-43, 52 and 30 radar antennas. This may be the only picture ever to show this unusual suite of radar onboard an aircraft carrier.
The book could've improved with the addition of more photos of blimp, seaplane and transport aircraft. 
This book should be on the shelf of anyone interested in military and/or naval aviation. The collection of photos ensure that this book will not be read once and shelved permanently. It will be read over and over again.

True Believer

by Scott W Carmichael Naval Institute Press 2007. $27.95. ISBN 9781591141006. Hardcover. 352 pages.
Ana Montes appeared to be a model employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Known to her coworkers as the Queen of Cuba, she was an overachiever who advanced quickly through the ranks of Latin American specialists to become the intelligence community's top analyst on Cuban affairs. But throughout her sixteen-year career at DIA, Montes was sending Castro some of America's most closely guarded secrets and at the same time helping influence what the United States thought it knew about Cuba. When she was finally arrested in September 2001, she became the most senior American intelligence official ever accused of operating as a Cuban spy from within the federal U.S. government. Unrepentant as she serves out her time in a federal prison in Texas, Montes remains the only member of the intelligence community ever convicted of espionage on behalf of the Cuban government.
Author Scott W Carmichael is a counterespionage specialist as the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). While his writing style reads more like a police report, you quickly adopt his passion; which more than makes up for his writing style. 
Due to the highly classified nature of the DIA, little can be revealed of what was actually compromised. 
In 1986, US Army Special Forces Sgt Gregory A Fronius was killed in El Salvador. His death, while not conclusively proven, is believed to have been one of the results of Montes' espionage work. Carmichael had pledged his earnings from this book to the family of Sgt Fronius - truly a noble undertaking and an extra good reason to buy the book.
Modern intelligence and espionage continues to plague the US defense establishment and industry. The work of dedicated agents such as Mr Carmichael must be supported and encouraged at all levels.
Kudos to the author for bringing this story to public's attention. While overshadowed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the arrest of Ms Montes and subsequent conviction is a real success against for foreign espionage.


A Liberty Ship's crew and their Navy Armed Guard fight for survival while grounded on a Japanese-held island

By Marill Johnson 177 pp., illus., ISBN 0897452585 Sunflower University Press
Marill Johnson is an acronym for Will and Marilyn Johnson. Will was the Chief Radio Officer of the Liberty Ship Albert A. Robinson in this story. 
The Johnsons have written this book in an easy to read style and is suitable for virtually all age groups. The book is recommended for school age readers to impart the heroism of US Merchant Marine, which was comprised mainly of persons unfit for normal military duty, and the Naval Armed Guard which manned the defensive armament of these ships.While in convoy to Lingayen Gulf in a storm, a miscommunication between watchkeeping officers had the ship steer 355 degrees instead of the convoy course of 255 degrees. As a result, Albert A. Robinson ran aground on the Japanese held Negros Island. 
With a great deal of ingenuity, Albert A. Robinson mounted a defense against the unavoidable hostile response by Japanese military forces. The ship was subject to small arms and mortar fire from shore and an air attack. The latter included a Kamikaze strike on the ship, which caused extensive damage and injuries to personnel. 

Unfortunately the reader was left hanging at the end of the narrative as to what happened later to the crew and ship. It would have been nice to find out what must have been a court of inquiry under some jurisdiction. Also, it would have been nice to read what happened to some of these unlikely heroes after the war.
Apart from these minor quibbles, the book is highly recommended. 
David Shirlaw

The Golden Thirteen

Edited by Paul Stillwell
Published by Bluejacket Books, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD
303 pages
This book is the oral recollections of the first black naval officers in the USN. The book records the thoughts and opinions of eight of the thirteen plus three white naval officers who served with the Golden Thirteen.
In seeing the American Navy today, it is hard to imagine a more diverse navy anywhere in the world. Yet, prior to World War II the navy was not a welcoming place to black men and women. Blacks were restricted to the steward trade. The opportunities that existed for whites did not exist for blacks.
President Roosevelt in World War II began a slow process in changing the ethnic face of the United States Navy, in spite of the Old School that existed in the fleet.
With every challenge there comes along those individuals who rise to the challenge and excel in it. Those individuals would be the Golden Thirteen. Their recollections describe the difficulties in overcoming racial prejudice not only in the fleet but in society.
The Thirteen after completing the initial officer’s training were assigned to the fleet but usually into jobs of a lesser quality than their skill levels. This type of job selection discrimination continued into the 1970s.This book is a must read for all those who study racial issues and how they affect society and how society can rise above racial inequality. (RB)

Swift, Silent, and Deadly - Marine Amphibious Reconnaissance in the Pacific, 1942–1945

By Bruce F. Meyers
Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2004. ISBN 1591144841. 192 pages, 19 photographs, 9 maps. (Publisher cites 224 pages, 25 photographs, 14 maps.) Hardcover. 6 x 9 inches. $26.95 US
Reviewed by Michael C. Potter (March 2005)
Swift, Silent, and Deadly describes the origin, evolution, and activities of the U.S. Marine Corps’s specialized small units for amphibious reconnaissance. This book will be most useful to readers who already have a good understanding of American strategy in the Pacific war. To see where recon units affected the operational plans for the Pacific campaign a reader needs the Naval Institute Historical Atlas of the U.S. Navy by the same publisher or something similar.Bruce F. Meyers is a postwar recon veteran and unit commander and brings first-hand knowledge to his subject. He plausibly asserts that this short book is the first complete overview of these units’ activities in World War II. General James Jones, USMC, formerly the Commandant of the USMC and currently SACEUR, is the son of a WW2 recon battalion commander and assisted Colonel Meyers in researching this book.Chapters 1–4 describe the equipment and training of the recon units. Originating in 1941, the first recon teams comprised USMC, Navy, and Army personnel. American forces trained with the Royal Marines to gain knowledge. During the war the recon functions became specialized within their parent services. The Navy specialists became independent underwater demolition teams (UDTs) and later the SEALs. This book focuses on the USMC.To me "Tools of the Trade" is the most interesting chapter in this short book. The first units’ first transports were submarines, soon augmented by flying boats, PT boats, and destroyers converted to high-speed amphibious transports (APDs). To a naval-oriented reader, this book usefully records the operational contributions of these often overlooked craft, albeit with only occasional details. PT-109 under Lt(jg) John F. Kennedy, USNR, was involved in recon operations.Chapters 5–11 describe all recon operations of the Pacific campaign from the Solomon Islands to Okinawa. Marine recon comprised sea-based guerrilla units. They worked directly for the operational commander at the USMC division level and higher levels. These were not tactical assault units. Instead they performed their key missions during the planning stages for future operations. Operating ahead of the generally know forward edge of the battle area, recon units several times suffered friendly fire. The author corrects other histories in pointing out that USS Sante Fe (CL 60), not an escorting destroyer, hit the transport submarine USS Nautilus (SS 168), since the shell was 6-inch. The damaged submarine continued her mission. The Marines thought their rubber boats were safer.This book gives insights into sound decisions of the island-hopping Pacific campaign. Recon missions collected material for operational intelligence (a term not used in the book), during the operational planning phase before seeking battle. To decide whether a particular island was even feasible as an objective, the theater commander needed to know whether and where the island was susceptible to amphibious assault. In 200 landings recon units clandestinely visited potential objective islands to evaluate their defenses and their potential for airfields. An example is that the large Solomon Island of Choiseul was bypassed, no doubt avoiding many casualties, after a recon team found its soil unsuitable for an airfield. A more precise characterization of the value of the recon units than swift, silent, and deadly would be early, stealthy, and informed.
At the pinnacle among these units were amphibious corps recon battalions and Force Recon, reporting to the commanding general of the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. During the Okinawa campaign a general with a perhaps too high opinion of his recon battalion ordered the unit to collect local venomous serpents for use in creating antivenom. The battalion commander (the present General Jones’ father) passed the order to a baffled subordinate recon company whose Marines, not surprisingly, had never sought nor caught a live poisonous snake. Their skills did however include working with the local populace. The recon Marines successfully bartered with villagers, recent enemies, to collect baskets of them.The concluding chapter cites postwar operations from Korea to Vietnam to Iraq. Parachuting became a new method for insertion. Colonel Meyers discusses his personal career in postwar units, including force recon. The book includes small photographs, maps of several islands, a glossary, end notes, a bibliography, an index, and an autobiography.
Limitations in this book: The maps are inadequate. Editing could be better. Several names are misspelled, including Admiral Richard Conolly and Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher, whose names also are missing from the index. Perhaps the errors appeared in original source documents. The Gato-class submarines are cited as the "Guppy" class. The tiny photographs would be more legible and more interesting if printed lengthwise.
Recon missions always were components of naval operations. This book never describes a complete naval-Marine recon operation, from embarkation aboard the transport ship through debarkation at the end. It does describe the ship-shore-ship sortie process. A typical raid lasted about 5 days ashore. A book on this subject could usefully show more about the impact of these missions on successful operational planning. Graphical timelines would be useful to show when these recon missions occurred during the planning and preparation phase for each landing. Reference to modern concepts and terminology such as operational intelligence would make these events clearer to professionals today.
The above criticism notwithstanding, this book is worth reading for its insights into how these missions influenced operational decisions in a successful war effort. Motivation of sailors in navies with these capabilities today will be higher if the sailors understand the importance of such missions.

Stealth Boat – Fighting the Cold War in a Fast Attack Submarine

By Gannon McHale
2008 Naval Institute Press 9781591145028 New York actor Gannon McHale, like many of his generation coming of age in the 1960s, faced the dilemma of being drafted into the US Army and going to Vietnam or enlisting in another service. He chose the US Navy for a single enlistment and it is of this time he has written an enjoyable addition to naval history – submarine service from an enlisted man’s perspective. As opposed to other books that have employed questionable interview techniques or delved into the realm of speculative or trashy journalism. Author McHale chose the high road and only wrote on material available through the Freedom of Information Act.
Submarine USS Sturgeon was the first of a large class of submarines which were in frontline service for over 30 years. McHale experienced two COs and two XOs with one good and one bad in each category. The good XO was Bruce DeMars who later went on to command the US Navy Nuclear Program.
Life ashore in the Groton/New London area during the late 1960s is enjoyable with what now seem quaint drinking laws and municipal actions.
McHale’s second submarine was the World War II vintage USS Dogfish that mostly conducted routine coastal training operations and most weekends in port. A stark contrast to high tempo Cold War operations on front line nuclear attack sub which saw them in near combat conditions and operating clandestinely. This book is highly recommended.

SS Jeremiah O'Brien

The History of a Liberty Ship from the Battle of the Atlantic to the 21st Century by Capt Walter W Jaffee
Hard Cover Glencannon Press 2004
The first part of this book focuses on this ship, a member of the famous Liberty Class merchant ship, during active service in the Second World War. This service included service in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. With each voyage, the crew would normally be “paid off” under merchant tradition with a new crew for the next voyage. The book the focuses on the restoration efforts which started in the 1970s and culminated in participation in the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 1994 in England and France. The author, a master mariner and member of the crew which took Jeremiah O’Brien to Europe is readily able to give the narrative a nautical feel and ease of use of terminology. One minor criticism of the work is the reference to HMS Belfast sinking in World War Two, which was not correct and the correlation to Jeremiah O’Brien berthing alongside Belfast in London in 1994 was not made. This book is an enjoyable read.

Ships for Victory

By Frederic C. Lane
881 Pages, Illus., soft cover.
ISBN: 0801867525, The John Hopkins University Press.
The great merchant fleets built under the United States Maritime Commission during World War II supplied the great battle for freedom through out the world. These ships were not built without problems and challenges.
Frederic C. Lane, an historian employed by the Maritime Commission covers the history of this spectacular organization in great detail. Lane’s examination of the issues confronting the Herculean tasks and challenges facing the Commission makes this book a must for all serious maritime or industrial historians.Lane began his employment with the Commission while a history professor at John Hopkins University. He was given full access to all the Commission’s files and had access to a great number of its World War II personalities.During the course of World War II the Commission built 5, 777 ships, which included LSTs, CVEs, Liberty and Victory types. The massive amount of shipbuilding was not without it’s huge problems and challenges.The research of Lane’s was astonishing detailed. He researched an organization that spanned all of America’s waterways. Lane included research on the various Labor unions, shipbuilding companies.The Chairman of the Maritime Commission during its war years was Admiral Emory Land. A naval officer, Admiral Land become the force behind the Commission which wed the various interested parties in producing the roughly 50 million deadweight tons of shipping in fight for freedom. Known as "L", the book ensures that Land’s legacy is given the respect that it is due.Discussed at great length throughout the tome, are all the human issues that had to be overcome, including racial strife, labor troubles, management interests, money flow, and shipyard owners. Lane covers these important issues in interesting detail.
Criticisms of Lane’s work are limited to the extensive coverage of all subject areas. The large number of areas could be large studies by themselves.This book without question is a "must have" for all those who study and enjoy the study of shipbuilding or industrial processes. Highly recommended. (RB)

Ship Strike Pacific

By John R Bruning Jr
144 pages; $24.95
ISBN 0760320950

During World War II, one of the most vital, dangerous and deadly operations in the war with Japan was the US aerial campaign on Japanese ships. Courageous US Navy, Army Air Corps and Marine crews struck at Japanese ships in an attempt to deplete supplies and sink firepower. All too often the men who risked their lives lost them on these missions in unfriendly skies. This breakthrough book contains many stunning photos that have never before been published. There are numerous superb, high-resolution photos of aircraft vs. ship combat and the aftermath of these battles. This is an important aspect of the war that has been largely ignored, but this book covers it in dramatic fashion that is sure to fascinate aviation and military history readers.
This book begins with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and continues through to the end of hostilities. 
What I really enjoyed about this book is the inclusion of all ship strike attacks by aircraft, not just naval as most works contain. The work of the US Army Air Corps in actions such as the Battle of the Bismarck Sea are covered. A "strafer's eye view of the Japanese destroyer Arashio shortly before its destruction..." is my favorite picture in this book.
The book really excels in the number of photographs. There are several in full color, a rare event in the 1940s. New to this reviewer are some excellent photos of Japanese warships that resorted to desperate measures to contend with the relentless US bombing in 1945. 
For the amateur and professional historian both, this book is highly recommended. (DS)

Valley of Decision The Siege of Khe Sanh

by John Prados and Ray W Stubbe Naval Institute Press 2004. $32.95. ISBN 1591146968. Soft cover. 551 pages.
Widely acknowledged as the definitive history of the siege of Khe Sanh when first published in hardcover in 1991, this book tells the whole incredible story of one of the most pivotal and bloody battles of the Vietnam War. Historian John Prados and Khe Sanh survivor Ray Stubbe recount the brutal seventy-seven days of combat and present the larger political context that formed the all-important backdrop to the events on the battlefield in 1968.
From the first direct hit on the fifteen-hundred tons of ammunition stockpiled in the U.S. compound, through the day and night patrols, pounding mortar fire, and shifting battle lines, the words and deeds of the men of Khe Sanh are brought to life with a skillful combination of documentation and eyewitness accounts—from both sides of the conflict.Trying to write a review of this book, one word comes to mind right away - wow! The coauthors were truly a wonderful match - one had done a fantastic job of compiling material and the other a talented writer in his own right. The latter compiled the material that would make for good narrative. 
Two things really stood out from the Battle of Khe Sanh - electronic monitoring and the effects of B-52 strikes.
US Forces placed listening devices on the Ho Chin Minh trail and other strategic locations in the Republic of Vietnam. These were an effective tool of both estimating enemy troop strength and intentions.
Probably the greatest fear of North Vietnamese soldiers and something that caused numerous desertions, was the B-52 strike. Never before had this reviewer read about the demoralizing effect of being bombed by an aircraft you couldn't see or hear due to their elevation.
This work ranks as one of the finest written on the Vietnam conflict and should be on the bookshelf of anyone studying this period.

Weapons of the Navy Seals

by Fred J Pushies
Of all the U.S. military Special Forces, none carry the same name recognition nor capture the public imagination like the U.S. Navy SEALs. From their intense training in San Diego to their land, air, and, of course, sea operations the SEALs are feared and respected around the globe. This installment in the MBI Battle Gear series, like the previously published Weapons of Delta Force (0-7603-1139 0), will detail in 150 photographs all of the weapons, vehicles, gear, and high-tech gadgets that the SEALs use in their operations. Photographs show SEALs utilizing weapons, watercraft, aircraft, SCUBA equipment, and more in live-action exercises, bringing the reader into the midst of the action. In Battle Gear fashion, the book also includes a chapter describing the techniques SEALs use, as well as glossaries of terms and military abbreviations. Hardcover • 8-1/4" x 10-5/8" • 128 pp • 100 color, 50 b/wMr Pushies appears to be well on his way to be the CB Colby of the early 21st Century. Compiling a plethora of works describing weapons and equipment of the modern US military, his books are not too complex or technical. This makes them ideal for novice to experts in the field.
The publisher, Motor Books International, has created a very pleasing look and feel to these books. Full color illustrations at a reasonable cost made possible by having the printing done in Asia it would appear. (DS)

Yorktown Class Aircraft Carriers

by Roger Chesneau & AD Baker III
Chatham Publishing 2005
ISBN 1861762208
The ‘ShipCraft’ series provides in-depth information about building and modifying model kits of famous warship types. Lavishly illustrated, each book takes the modeler through a brief history of the subject class, using scale plans to highlight differences between sisterships and changes in their appearance over their careers, then moves to an extensive photographic survey of either a high-quality model or a surviving example of the ship. Hints on building the model, and on modifying and improving the basic kit, are followed by a section on paint schemes and camouflage, featuring numerous color profiles and highly-detailed line drawings. The strengths and weaknesses of available kits of the ships are reviewed, and the book concludes with a section on research references - books, monographs, large-scale plans and relevant websites.
The subject of this volume is the Yorktown class, the near-legendary American aircraft carriers that kept the Japanese at bay in the dark days between Pearl Harbor and the decisive battle of Midway, where Yorktown herself was lost. Hornet launched the famous Doolittle Raid on Japan before being sunk at Santa Cruz in October 1942, but Enterprise survived the fierce fighting of the early war years to become the US Navy’s most decorated ship.

With its unparalleled level of visual information – paint schemes, models, line drawings and photographs – it is simply the best reference for any model maker setting out to build one of these famous carriers.ROGER CHESNEAU is a lifelong ship modeler and author of numerous naval books, including Ship Models in Plastic.
While geared toward modelers, this book contains enough in the way of information, drawings and photographs, to make it of interest to anyone interested in aircraft carriers. 
Some very interesting facts were learned in this book:
1. The CXAM radar fitted to Yorktown was previously fitted on USS California and as part of the shore defenses on Oahu after Pearl Harbor. 
2. Hornet had a line painted down her flight deck to aid the takeoff of B-25 bombers in famous Doolittle raid on Tokyo. This line was still there later that year during her sinking at the Battle of Santa Cruz.
3. The superb drawings by Mr Baker made this reviewer notice something for the first time - the lack of liferafts prewar. In these days of SOLAS and "quality of life" in almost seem incomprehensible that liferafts did not appear to be fitted at all.
4. Hornet was built with an almost completely redesigned island and bridge structure as compared to her two older sisterships. This is reminiscent of the current Nimitz-class carriers evolving over the years.
This book is hopefully the first of future collaborations between Messrs Chesneau and Baker. (DS)

Riding on Luck: Saga of the USS Lang (DD-399)

Author : Rex A. Knight
ISBN : 1555715516
Hellgate Press of Oregon has identified a niche market for works of military history that would often be passed up by major publishers. Such is the case with Riding on Luck.
They called her the "Lucky Lang." Commissioned 30 March 1939, she ranged from Nova Scotia to the Caribbean, from Scotland to the Mediterranean, before traversing the Panama Canal to engage the enemy in the Pacific at Guadalcanal, New Georgia, Kwajalein, Saipan, Leyte, and Okinawa. She wreaked havoc along the "Tokyo Express" route and helped decimate Japanese air power. Though heavily involved in nearly every major campaign of the war in the Pacific, the destroyer USS Lang survived it all with hardly a scratch. She lost but three men and not a single surviving member of her roster rolls received the slightest enemy inflicted wound. No other U.S. Naval warship could boast such a record, over such an extended time, involving an equal number of actions. Even the sum of her hull numbers-399-adds up to 21, a lucky number to be sure. Riding On Luck is the story of how the "luckiest ship in the Navy" served crew and country through some of the fiercest and best-known battles of WWII.
For more than a decade, Rex Knight has been researching and writing WWII history, specializing in the Pacific Theater. He has visited and photographed many battle sites, including sunken WWII vessels, and been named the Lang's official biographer and honorary crewmember. Completion of this history is the high point of what he calls "a wonderful and unforgettable association" with the family of Lang veterans and their spouses. Rex is a regular contributor to World War II Magazine.
Knight, while not a professional historian, clearly enjoys writing on his topics. His writing style is clear and of fluid nature. However the manuscript suffers from a lack of proof-reading; which often annoys the reader. Two examples early in the text that are not repeated are the terms "warshipping" and "duel purpose" instead of the correct dual purpose.
The book also suffers a little from weak research by misidentifying HMS Charybdis as a destroyer instead of a cruiser, stating that USS Nevada was sunk at Pearl Harbor when she was not and claiming USS Farragut (DD 348) was fitted with a MK-37 director. In addition, Knight has missed the most important feature visible in the cover photo of USS Lang by missing the wheel chair ramp visible on the starboard side for the use of Franklin D Roosevelt during one of the two instances when he traveled on this ship.
I commend Mr Knight for his work in this effort and Hellgate for publishing it. With sharper research and editing, a next effort from this duo should be a fine read. (DS)

RESURRECTION Salvaging the Battle Fleet at Pearl Harbor

By Daniel Madsen
ISBN 1557504881
Naval Institute Press
Daniel Madsen is also the author of the reviled Forgotten Fleet: The Mothball Navy. However, he appears now to be on the right track toward writing on topic.
The attack on Pearl Harbor is a topic of perennial interest to the American public, and a long line of popular books and movies have focused on the attack or events leading up to it. This work takes an entirely new perspective. Aimed at the general reader with an interest in World War II and the U.S. Navy, the book looks at the massive salvage effort that followed the attack, beginning with the damage control efforts aboard the sinking and damaged ships in the harbor on 7 December 1941 and ending in March 1944 when salvage efforts on the USS Utah were finally abandoned.
The author tells the story in a narrative style, moving from activity to activity as the days and months wore on, in what proved to be an incredibly difficult and complex endeavor. But rather than writing a dry operational report, Dan Madsen describes the Navy’s dramatic race to clear the harbor and repair as many ships as possible so they could return to the fleet ready for war. Numerous photographs, many never before published in books for the general public, give readers a real appreciation for the momentous task involved, from the raising of the USS Oglala in 1942 and the USS Oklahoma in 1943 to the eventual dismantling of the above-water portions of the USS Arizona. Madsen explains how a salvage organization was first set up, how priorities were scheduled, what specific plans were made and how they worked or, in many cases, did not work. His book is based almost entirely on primary sources, including the records of the fleet salvage unit and the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.Madsen makes no claim to be a professional historian nor of any expertise on nautical matters. Three small errors in nautical terminology were evident:
use of the term clinometer instead of inclinometer;
spoke a ship moving "aft" instead of "astern";
displayed a lack of comprehension if the term deadweight by misspelling it as dead weight. The term deadweight is never used in conjunction with warships -- being a measurement applicable only merchant ships.
One small quibble with this work was the lack of after the fact pictures. It would've been nice to, for example, see pictures of the two 14-inch turrets from USS Arizona after they were installed as coastal defense guns on Oahu. In addition, photos of battleships California and West Virginia, which were both sunk December 7, 1941, after their reconstruction at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard would have been a nice touch.
Madsen's previous work, Forgotten Fleet: The Mothball Navy, was widely looked forward to as an examination of the US Navy warship preservation program. Instead, it was largely an amateurish rehash of previously published events from the Second World War. With his latest book, Madsen is staying much closer to his objective.
Resurrection is a recommended read if one ignores the flaws. It can be hoped that any future work of Mr Madsen will display better research and command of the subject. (DS)


True Stories of the U.S. Merchant Marine in World War II
by Gerald Reminick
Soft cover, 320 pp.
ISBN 1889901148
Price: $21.95
This book is the second in a series of collections of recollections of US merchant mariners from the Second World War.
Tales from all over the world are included giving the reader a good feel as to what it was like to be on the ships both at sea and ashore.
The Glencannon Press is to be commended for publishing these valuable works to the historical record.
Profusely illustrated with photographs and certificates, this work will make a fine addition to any bookshelf.

Overdue and Presumed Lost

The Story of the USS Bullhead by Martin Sheridan
Soft cover 1591147867 Naval Institute Press 1947 Reprinted 2004 Illustrated
The author, Martin Sheridan, spent much of World War Two in the Pacific Theater of Operations as a war correspondent for the Boston Globe. He was also the only war correspondent to have been granted permission to travel onboard a submarine during a war patrol.
Writing the text to this book after the end of the war, the reader can truly marvel in what a different world we live in today. Sheridan talks about the 1944 visit of President Franklin D Roosevelt to Hawaii. The press corps was asked to turn around to not embarrass the polio-stricken President as he was taken to a speaking platform. This was gladly done in respect to the man and his office.
Prior to going on patrol, Sheridan met with Vice Admiral Charles A Lockwood who was Commander of Pacific Fleet submarines. The admiral is quoted as mentioning casually that Sheridan was okay to go on the patrol but would not have access to any top secret or ULTRA information. It seems stunning, from a historical perspective, that the mere mention of the term ULTRA was even mentioned in 1947.
USS Bullhead was the last American naval vessel lost in World War II. This history of the submarine—from launch to disappearance—is told by the only war correspondent allowed on a wartime submarine patrol. Narrow escapes from floating mines, fast dives to avoid enemy aircraft, and a daring sortie to rescue three badly hurt survivors of a downed B-25 are just a few of the adventures Martin Sheridan recounts. Trained as a feature writer, he shares his own experiences as well as the humorous and poignant incidents of everyday life aboard the submarine to capture that intangible spirit of camaraderie and sense of impending danger.First published in 1947, the narrative is based on a journal the author kept during the Bullhead’s first war patrol in March and April 1945 and supplemental information from official Navy reports. The book, supported by a unique collection of period photographs, describes the perilous undersea war in the Pacific as only a firsthand account can.Sheridan's writing style is impeccable as can be expected and flows well. This book makes for a fine afternoon read.


By Norman Friedman 
ISBN 1591142903 Hard cover 304 pages 24 photos 
Dr. Norman Friedman is an internationally known strategist and naval historian living in New York City. A monthly columnist for Proceedings magazine, he is the author of twenty-eight books, including the recent award-winning Seapower as Strategy and The Fifty-Year War. His technical history works produced along with AD Baker III are some of the finest ever written.
After reading the monthly columns in Proceedings Magazine since the September 11 terror attacks, I was looking forward to reading this book.
Friedman imparts quite a bit of information on the workings of the tribal mentality still prevalent in the Muslim world. Tribalism in turn usually reflect which version of the Muslim faith is practiced in different areas.
However, this book is a disappointment. Friedman loses credibility with readers when he makes the statement that the US Government does not interfere with working of other governments. This statement is utterly preposterous; Chile, Iran Contra and other events instantly come to mind.
In addition, virtually no coverage is given to the employment of reserve and National Guard forces in Afghanistan and at home for security duties. The tragic bombing of Canadian soldiers conducting a live fire night training exercise by part time US forces in F-16 aircraft is not touched upon.
Greater coverage of the new philosophy for homeland defense should have been undertaken. This has had a dramatic effect on the sea services with both US Navy & Coast Guard forces. 
As a big fan of Dr Friedman, I was disappointed in this book. Hopefully a more thorough work will come along soon on this dramatic era in world history. (DS)

Mighty Midgets at War: The Saga of the LCS(L) Ships from Iwo Jima to Vietnam

By Robin L. Rielly
ISBN : 1555715222 
PSI Research, Inc. , P.O. Box 3727 Central Point, Oregon 97502
300 Pages, Retail Price: $18.95
After writing the history of his father's ship, the LSC(L)61, Robin L. Rielly continued his work on other ships. His activities led him to be appointed Archivist for the National Association of USS LCS(L)1-130. He assists in the maintenance of the L. Richard Rhame Collection at the Naval Historical Center in Washington DC, which is devoted to the LCS(L) ships and their history.
Mighty Midgets at War accurately chronicles the history of the Mighty Midgets - Landing Craft Support Vessels that were developed for amphibious assaults against the Japanese-held islands toward the end of WWII.
In this the book is splendid, giving thorough accounts of amphibious operations and being under attack by suicide boats and aircraft. A short overview of their participation in the clearing of Japanese minefields after the war and subsequent mothballing of most of the ships is included.
In addition the book includes a detailed history of these ships which served in Indochina for the navies of France and South Vietnam. Due to their shallow draft, high conning tower and firepower, these ships proved highly useful in riverine operations.
I had only three small quibbles with the book:
HMAS Warramunga is misidentified as a cruiser and later correctly identified as a destroyer
The mothball facility at the former Tongue Point Naval Air Station is misidentified in a photo caption as nearby Astoria, Oregon
Footnotes are placed in quotation marks within the text, which is an annoyance during reading
However apart from these small points, this book is highly recommended. It is hoped that Mr Rielly uses his burgeoning talents on another work soon.

Maritime Security A Practical Guide

By Steven Jones
Nautical Institute ISBN 9781870077750

With world attention focused on piracy, the Nautical Institute has published a timely work on secure operations for maritime commerce.
Some good points to this book:
· Laid out in textbook format
· Based on needs of the mariner
· Who what why of concerns
· How to setup an onboard security system
· References to resources ashore
· Setting up the position of security officer position onboard ship
· Problems with uniformity and costs to owners
· Many mariners already mired in paperwork
This book should be included in the syllabus of nautical colleges throughout the world.

Lest We Forget The Naming of Military Installations

By Linda Deloma Swink. Little Miami Publishing Co 2007. No Price Listed. ISBN 1932250514. Unknown Binding. 245 pages. 
This book is intended to provide a quick research resource for US military facilities. Included are the US Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force.
It is nice to know what the various facilities were used for as well as the biographical information of the person a facility may have been named for.
Not all foreign bases appear to be included. The US Air Force section lacks any overseas operations. The US Army section lacks Fort Meade in Maryland and Fort Rodman in Panama.
The US Navy section was well received. The reference to Admiral Reeves and football helmets was very informative.
The index contains a list of facilities in the book but lacks page numbers. This oversight could easily be remedied with modern word processing software.
A few illustrations would have been a welcome addition.
Despite the lack of polish, the book is recommended.

A Terrorist’s Call to Jihad, The Terrorist Perspectives Project and The Canons of Jihad

Sponsored by US Joint Forces Command and written by a team of analysts they employed, this three volume set was published by the Naval Institute Press.
The series attempts to examine what goes on in the mind of terrorists, their reasoning for their action and the Islamic connection. The promulgation of anti-US and Israel propaganda and reasons for 9-11 make for easy justification for actions of Muslim extremists. Much of this ideology is contained in the book “The Call to Global Islamic Resistance” by Setmariam Nasat is called the “Mein Kampf of the Jihad Movement.” The volumes would have been better with proofreading. Spell checking without proofing, an all too common mistake these days left a number of sentences with mistakes.
While a good try, the truly readable account of the Islamic terror movement still awaits publication.

Jig How

Roy W. Brown
ISBN: 1592861873, 150 pages, 5.5 x 8.5
Retail Price: $19.95
Roy Brown has done a credible job of bringing to life experiences of an impressionable teenager suddenly thrust into combat during the Second World War. His experiences are reflective of the thousands of sailors employed in providing a limited self defense capability to slow moving merchant ships. 
Jig How attempts to bring overdue recognition to a U.S. Navy unit that served with great distinction during World War II, but somehow has failed to receive media and public acknowledgement. U.S. Navy Armed Guard sailors took part in every major invasion in WWII; they were aboard 6,236 merchant ships; 710 of the ships were sunk and hundreds damaged; they were the defense and the communications on these ships. Although they were awarded thousands of medals and commendations, the vital role they played in the war has not been fully made public. World War II could not have been won without the merchant ships. These slow-moving (many barely seaworthy) vessels delivered almost all the equipment, ammunition, supplies, food, water, medicines, guns, troops, and everything needed to fight that war. They fought enemy submarines, aircraft, shore batteries, and endured the most horrendous weather conditions at sea.
The book is printed by Publish America, a Baltimore firm that prints books on demand for aspiring authors. Therefore this book suffers from a lack of proof-reading which afflicts almost all books published from this type of source. The manuscript spells the author's name as BROWNE, but on the book cover it is spelled BROWN. Why this is is never explained. 
Apart from this, Mr Brown (however it is spelled) is to be commended for writing this work.

Iowa Class Battleships and Alaska Class Large Cruisers Conversion Projects 1942-1964

by Wayne Scarpaci Nimble Books 978193480382 Softcover 31 pages.
This book presents an overview of proposed conversions of the Iowa class battleships and Alaska class large cruisers from 1942 to 1964. This book covers 16 conversions, with line drawings and full color original art illustrations for 11 of 16 proposed projects. Coverage extends from MACK-equipped double-ended Talos Guided Missile Battleship designs to Jupiter-IRBM-carrying "Missile Monitor" designs. This is a truly unique volume that provides not only new proposed conversion information, but a look at the ongoing US Navy modernization and experimentation projects of the early postwar/cold war era. This book is a must for those who have an interest in battleships in general and the Iowa class in particular.
Nevada artist Wayne Scarpaci has a passion for the history of battleships and has undertaken a series of drawings and paintings. This book takes a look at planned conversions for Iowa and Alaska class ships. The conversions would’ve been for aircraft carriers, assault ships and missile platforms. This book is not a definitive study in the manner of the works of Dr Norman Friedman. The shortness of the book, which is akin to a magazine in stature, is surprising. A better use probably would have been to have a pictorial book of Mr Scarpaci’s artwork. The price of about $23 for what is essentially a 26 page book will limit this to the most ardent of battleship aficionados.

Inside the Iron Works How Grumman's Glory Days Faded

by George M Skurla & William H Gregory
Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 2004. ISBN 155750329X
While not intended to be a scholarly account on this history of Grumman, the work mostly recounts the involvement of the late Mr Skurla in the company. From his early days as a neophyte engineer in the days of massive F6F Hellcats during World War II until his retirement in 1986, decisions and plans of Grumman are included from an insider viewpoint.
Skurla recounts his days on producing truck bodies, aircraft and work at the Kennedy Space Center in support of the Grumman-built Lunar Module of the Apollo program. Eventually brought back to the main corporate facilities on Long Island to work on the F-14 program and becoming President during the time of the Reagan military buildup.
Skurla is sharply critical of some of the company decisions, which tended to not want to deviate from their traditional close relationship with the US Navy. A decision to sell the Gulfstream division robbed the firm of a lucrative source of revenue. A foray into the field of building hydrofoils, which something most major aircraft firms felt they could do in the 1960s ended in near disaster with only one ending up being delivered to the US Navy with two meant for Israel being cancelled to avoid a potential huge loss to the company.
Being a major naval contractor, Skurla adopted a few naval terminologies such as "the boat" for aircraft carrier and "purple suiter" in reference to an officer on joint service duty.
This book provides an excellent background on the shape of where naval aviation is today and how it got there. In addition it also provides a look at the corporate side of the aerospace industry.
Unfortunately Mr Skurla died before the book was published. Kudos to Mr Gregory for spending three years working with Skurla to amass this memoir.

Inside the Danger Zone

By Harold Lee Wise. Naval Institute Press 2006. $32.95. ISBN 9781591149705. Hardcover. 288 pages.
In May 1987, an Iraqi plane fired two missiles into USS Stark, a lone U.S. Navy frigate on patrol in the Gulf.  The missiles severely damaged the ship and killed thirty-seven sailors.  This deadly attack, which Iraq claimed was accidental, brought heightened attention to the Persian Gulf and heralded the beginning of a new era in U.S. Middle Eastern policy.  From then until the end of the Iran-Iraq War, American forces carried out an unprecedented series of military operations in the Gulf.  A planned tanker protection mission evolved into a naval quasi-war with Iran and culminated in the largest sea-air battle since World War II. 
Inside the Danger Zone is a history of U.S. military involvement in the Persian Gulf in 1987 and 1988—a time of burning ships, air strikes, and secret missions—the prelude to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Desert Storm, and the most recent U.S. invasion of Iraq. Based largely on first-hand accounts from veterans of that era, it is an up-close, detailed report from the front lines of “a guerrilla war at sea.”  Many of the dramatic incidents of this period are told in depth, with new information and details never before seen in print.  This book focuses in some depth US naval operations in the Persian Gulf region in 1987 & 1988.
Covered are events such the Iraqi attack on USS Stark, Iranian mining, nuisance and arming of offshore oilrigs.
The book suffers somewhat from either a lack of sharp editing or faulty research. Some examples are:
CAG 5 is from Japan not the Philippines
FFG 14 was USS Sides not John H Sides
AWACS aircraft are E-3 and not E-2
Towing hawsers can be attached to anchor chains
One item I was very disappointed in was the lack of coverage of operations of battleship Missouri such as the attempt to simulate a tanker in the Strait of Hormuz at night to flush out Iranian Silkworm missiles without success.
The book did bring to light a heretofore-unknown fact by this reviewer; pumps on Charles F Adams-class DDGs were incompatible with Oliver Hazard Perry-class FFGs. This almost proved disastrous in the mining of USS Samuel B Roberts and missile attack on USS Stark.
While a valiant attempt, the book cannot be recommended due to the number of errors.

Hunter Killer US Escort Carriers in the Battle of the Atlantic

by William T Y'Blood
This book, first published in 1983, has been brought back under the Naval Institute Press Bluejacket Series.The pursuit of German U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic has long been considered one of the most exciting stories of World War II. This definitive study takes readers into the cockpits and onto the flight decks of the versatile and hardy U.S. escort carriers (CVEs) to tell of their vital, yet little-known contribution to the anti-U-boat campaign. Sailing apart from the Allied convoys, the CVE captains had complete freedom of action and frequently took their ships on "hunt and kill" missions against the enemy. The German submarines were allowed no respite and no place to relax without the fear of discovery.
World War II historian William Y'Blood explains that in the eighteen months between the Spring of 1943, when the escort carriers began to prowl the Atlantic, to November 1944, the average number of U-boats in daily operation was reduced from 108 to a mere 31. Though land-based aircraft, various support groups, and the convoy system itself helped win the Battle of the Atlantic, the escort carrier groups' influence was profound. In addition to documenting the escort carriers' exciting operational history, the author also traces the CVEs development and construction and examines its tactical and strategic uses. 332 pages. 45 photographs. 26 line drawings. Paperback. 6 x 9 inches.

During the 1980s, Mr Y'Blood wrote three definitive works on naval history, this being one of them. 
The author's writing style has a very polished feel, making his work eminently readable. The narrative in this book is excellent, with the reader feeling they have received both an education and a enjoyable read.
The only disappointment on Mr Y'Blood is that the Naval Institute Press has not been able to have him write more works of naval history. 
This book is available through your local book store on a number of online services. An attempt to locate it on the difficult to navigate Naval Institute Press website was unsuccessful. It is hoped that the Naval Institute will come up with a more user friendly website. The existing site is probably driving away book buyers.

The Battleship USS New Jersey: From Birth to Berth

$24.95 ISBN 1891395769

Carol Comegno is a senior reporter for the Camden Courier-Post newspaper and covered the quest to bring the battleship to Camden, New Jersey. Comegno was aboard for a portion of the Panama Canal transit and covered the arrival of the ship in Camden.
Battleship enthusiasts will love this book for it's plethora of excellent photographs. Sharp readers will notice that a MK-37 director is misidentified as "the forward 16-inch main battery fire control director." What I particularly liked were numerous views of the interior of the ship while in active service; something sadly lacking in most historical works. 
At a price of only $24.95, this oversized book is a must for any reference library. Apart from small research errors, Comegno has done a superb job. This book is highly recommended. (DS)

The Fighting Flying Boat A History of the Martin PBM Mariner

by Richard A HoffmanAs a child, my brother and I got a chance to sit in the cockpit of a Marlin patrol aircraft at NAS Whidbey Island. Now 40 years later, I still have a fascination in this type of aircraft.
Detailing a proud chapter in naval aviation history, former PBM pilot Richard Hoffman has written the first comprehensive history of Mariner operations. This versatile seaplane was first deployed in 1941 during the Battle of the Atlantic, when it helped sink ten German U-boats. The following year it became a mainstay of the Naval Air Transport Service as the first aircraft to provide a vital link between Hawaii and the South Pacific. In combat, Mariners participated in every major offensive campaign from the Marianas to Iwo Jima and Okinawa, sinking enemy submarines, ships, and aircraft. They also served as the main rescue aircraft, saving hundreds of airmen and seamen in spectacular open-sea rescue operations. At war’s end, they were the first aircraft into Tokyo Bay. Yet the Mariner has long been overshadowed by its famous counterpart, the PBY Catalina.This book corrects the oversight by recognizing the Mariner not only for its contributions to World War II but also the postwar years, when it was involved with the exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic and the Korean War. Hoffman offers dramatic details of PBM fights with Chinese MIGs and patrol and reconnaissance missions. The author also highlights the seaplane’s hazardous rescue missions with the Coast Guard and its service with foreign armed forces. Striking photos of Mariners in action accompany the narrative, and a list of all PBM casualties is appended.The book contains a few errors that are quite shocking considering the publisher is the Naval Institute Press:
US Army transports were USAT and not USS
Reference is made to an Australian submarine on page 50. Australia had no submarines in World War II; the author must've meant an Australian-based submarine.
USS Grapple is referred to as a seaplane tender when in fact she was a salvage tug
He refers to a seaplane tender as having a limiting displacement, a term I have never come across in 29 years in the nautical field
Describing the career history of the seaplane tenders, the author fails to mention the very active duty performed by USNS Curtiss in Vietnam in support of USMC helicopter forces
Apart from these minor errors, the book is very readable and is recommended. (DS)


"Neglecting the Possible" – U.S. Navy Mistakes
By Benjamin S. Persons
154 pp., illus., ISBN 0897452569
Sunflower University Press
President Roosevelt during his term of office had upon his desk the sign: "The buck stops here." In the case of a Navy ship captain the buck cannot go any higher.
Benjamin Persons explores the weight of command in the U.S. Navy and the fallout from disasters within the Navy. Though the use of records from Naval Court of Inquiries he brings the various and numerous details that contributed to the disasters to the forefront
The book emphasized the possible broken links in the chain of command, which resulted the total loss of ships and numerous casualties. Studied in the book were four incidents, namely, sinking of the destroyers Rhodes and Hobson, and heavy cruisers Indianapolis and Vincennes. Both destroyers were lost post World War II and the cruisers were both lost during World War II.
Persons studied the lost of the vessels from the perspective of "people failures" and not purely technical failures. As a result, this book becomes very interesting reading not only for naval types, but any organization dealing and struggling with command or management type issues. A very good study in the human sciences.
The author’s biography indicated a strong engineering background combined with U.S. Army history, which would lead an unsuspecting reader to plan for an engineering type journal. This book was nothing of the sort. It was very reader friendly, and this naval enthusiast couldn’t put the book down.If this book was to be criticized, it would that it is too short. The details leave the reader yearning for more.
Finally, I fully recommend this book for any one interested in the history of the United States Navy and the events that have shaped it into the fine fighting force today. Well done, Benjamin Persons. (RB)

Eric Larrabee: Commander in Chief: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, His Lieutenants and Their War

Annapolis MD Naval Institute Press (Paper), 2004. 723 pp. Index. Original hardcover edition, Harper & Row, 1987.
Eric Larrabee has written a fascinating portrait of President Franklin Roosevelt’s role in overall management of military strategy during World War II and his relationships with the military leaders of that time. Roosevelt today looms larger than life over the major events of the first half of the twentieth century in the United States. For many years he was celebrated primarily for the part he played in creating the "New Deal" that helped bring the United States out of the Great Depression in the 1930s and in creating the social safety net that has been a legacy of those times, even in the early 21st century. Less well known was the importance of Roosevelt as a military manager. As Larrabee says, there is a "misapprehension that he left the conduct of the war largely to the military."FDR was prepared for a political career with military interests. He grew up in the shadow of his cousin Theodore Roosevelt. He shared TR’s interest in the Navy, demonstrated during his eight years of service as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under Josephus Daniels, President Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of the Navy. Assistant Secretary Roosevelt learned a great deal about naval matters as he helped prepare the Navy for its rapid expansion as preparation for operations during World War I. He became personally acquainted with many of the nation’s future military leaders during this tutorial period.This book’s title and organization finds parallels in Douglas Southall Freeman’s classic Lee’s Lieutenants: A Study in Command (1942-1944) and T. Harry Williams’s Lincoln and his Generals (1952). Larrabee has woven together Roosevelt’s dealings with flag officers in high command positions during World War II. Dealt with in sequence are George C. Marshall, Ernest J. King, General Henry H. Arnold, General Archer Vandegrift, General Douglas A. MacArthur, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Joseph W. Stilwell, and Curtis E. Lemay. The most sympathetic sketches are those of Marshall, King, Arnold, Eisenhower, Nimitz, and Stilwell. Toward General MacArthur and staff, Larrabee is scathing in several of his comments, for example, " . . .as a human being he was a shell of tarnished magnificence, a false giant attended by real pygmies." With respect to General Lemay, Larrabee provides no information on any relationship the general had with Roosevelt. It is likely there was none. Lemay was probably included merely as a device of telling how the air war progressed against Axis. Larrabee makes no secret of his disdain for Roosevelt’s shabby treatment of General Stilwell and FDR’s mishandling of China’s Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. What is truly curious is the lack of a sketch of Admiral William D. Leahy, the former Chief of Naval Operations whom Roosevelt chose as his confidant and Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.Among the virtues of this study is Larrabee’s analysis of the overall conduct of the global war, the author’s insights into the Roosevelt personality, and his clever and sometimes devious handling men of conflicting views on the war, including Winston Churchill. The weaknesses of this study are its great length and repetition of details when the author deals with multiple personalities and their overlapping careers. The Naval Institute Press has deserves kudos for republishing Eric Larrabee’s important and well written study of Roosevelt and his commanders in this new paperback edition.[The author] here assembles what, essentially, is a collection of short biographies of four army generals (George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, Joseph Stilwell); two air force generals ("Hap" Arnold, Curtis LeMay); one marine general (A. A. Vandegrift); and two admirals (Ernest King, Chester Nimitz) all of whom oversaw the execution of Roosevelt's strategic directives during World War II. The emphasis throughout is on the relationships, direct and indirect, these officers had with the president, illustrating the premise that "more than any man FDR ran the war, and ran it well enough to deserve the gratitude of his countrymen then and since, and of those from whom he lifted the yoke of the Axis tyrannies." The book is well researched and superbly written and studded with the author's blunt opinions. Criticizing Roosevelt's China policy ("bad in conception, bad in execution"), Larrabee calls the president's treatment of Stilwell the darkest blot on his record as commander in chief. The chapter on MacArthur and his staff is especially scathing: "A false giant among real pygmies." Illustrations.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
Larrabee does for World War II what T. Harry Williams did for the Civil War in his classic Lincoln and His Generals (1952). President Roosevelt was the most active Commander-in-Chief in U.S. history. He planned grand strategy, assumed leadership of the wartime alliance, and provided much of the day-by-day direction of vast armed forces. Larrabee shows how FDR brought the same formidable array of leadership skills to the nation's wartime problems as he did to its social ills detailed scrutiny, deviousness, and remorseless "informal" conferences and letters. Along the way, the author provides beautifully detailed studies of FDR's relationships with Marshall, King, Arnold, Vandegrift, MacArthur, Nimitz, Eisenhower, Stilwell, and LeMay. A delight to read, the book is as fluidly written as it is sophisticated. Recommended for most libraries. Raymond L. Puffer, U.S. Air Force History
Reviewed by William S. Dudley, Ph.D.
Former Director of Naval History