Based on four interviews conducted by John T. Mason, Jr., from September 1980 through July 1988. The volume contains 244 pages of interview transcript plus an index and photo copies of a number of Commander Murray’s paintings. The transcript is copyright 1994 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee has placed no restrictions on its use.
Unlike most of the Naval Institute’s oral histories, which contain the recollections of seagoing line officers, this memoir is from a skilled artist who painted the portraits of many of the line officers. In addition to providing interesting anecdotes about the artistic process, Commander Murray also supplied candid insights into the personalities of the individuals. For instance, in painting Admiral William Halsey and Admiral Thomas Kinkaid, Murray rekindled their acrimonious feelings about the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Many of the other top naval leaders of World War II were the subjects of Murray’s brush: Chester Nimitz, William Leahy, Ernest King, James Forrestal, Marc Mitscher, Arleigh Burke, Thomas Sprague, Jonas Ingram, Arthur Radford, Charles McMorris, Richmond Kelly Turner, and Raymond Spruance. More recent leaders included Secretary of the Navy Thomas Gates and CNO Admiral Elmo Zumwalt. Copies of the Murray portraits of these individuals are included in the volume so the reader can compare the artist’s verbal descriptions with the images he created. In addition, Murray talked about his role as a combat artist, particularly in connection with the Allied invasion of southern France in August 1944.