Notable Naval Books of 1992

By Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Professor Love's two-volume history, which he describes as recounting and explaining "the high politics of American naval history," seems particularly appropriate to this conversation because it reveals "how presidents, bureaucrats, legislators, and Navy men devised and refined American naval policy," and because it concludes that "not only American interests but also the world's body politic and humanity in general should welcome and share in the order, justice and peace a strong United States Navy can help to create." Professor Hattendorf's critique of this important work finds particular strengths in "its range, its compilation of detail, and its listing of sources," and he adds that "Love's summary of the postwar period is, in itself, a pioneering contribution to naval literature."

No less significant is Colin Gray's The Leverage of Sea Power. While the highly sought title of "modem Mahan" has some serious contenders in the likes of Norman Polmar and Eric Grove, Gray makes a serious bid for that accolade in this, his most recent work. Like Mahan, Gray reviews centuries of naval history to develop and test his strategic theories. But unlike Mahan, Gray's work emphasizes the "jointness" of maritime operations rather than the imperialistic aspects of naval power. He recognizes the interrelationships of land, sea, and air power and clearly demonstrates the essential role of the "wet" side of that triad.

Focusing on the earlier part of the 20 th century are Gary Weir's Building the Kaiser's Navy: The Imperial Naval Office and German Industry in the Tirpitz Era and The Eclipse of the Big Gun: The Warship, 1906-1945, edited by David K. Brown. These books look beyond U.S. shores to the earlier navies of the world, delving into the political and technological aspects of their development as well as their operational employment. Weir's historical text recounts and analyzes Germany's bid for sea power in the days preceding and during World War I. In particular, he examines the pivotal role played by Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz. The Eclipse of the Big Gun is one of the "Conway's History of the Ship" series, which will eventually run to 12 volumes. This segment covers the diminishing role of the battleship and its smaller gun-toting cousins in the years when naval treaties, shifting national policies, and world wars shaped the roles assumed by the world's navies.

World War II is well represented this year by several unusual works. John McCormick's The Right Kind of War: A Novel reviews the Pacific War through the eyes of several fictional, but powerfully realistic, Marine Raiders. The story is harrowing, inspiring, and funny. W. E. B. Griffin, author of the highly successful The Corps series (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1990-1992), calls this novel "authentic and well written," and Richard Wheeler, author of A Special Valor: The U.S. Marines and the Pacific War (Harper and Row, 1983), praises it as "writing at its best about combat at its worst."

Among that "combat at its worst" is the battle of Okinawa, which is but one part of McCormick's novel but is the primary focus of a monumental new work by George Feifer titled Tennozan: The Battle of Okinawa and the Atomic Bomb. This is the most comprehensive work on that bloodiest of battles late in the Pacific War, not only in the amount of detail it provides, but also in its coverage of both the U.S. and Japanese antagonists, the hapless Okinawans caught in the middle, and the battle's ramifications on future policy. It is a splendid re-creation of this multifaceted campaign in all of its awesome and gruesome detail.

Women Marines: The World War II Era is exemplary not so much because of its distaff topic, but because it is a book about women in the military, it reaches favorable conclusions, and it was written by a man-Captain Peter A. Soderbergh, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired). Colonel Julia E. Hamblet, first director of the postwar Women Marines, describes his work as "a tapestry depicting who the WRs [Women Reservists] were, why they joined the Marine Corps, what they did in the Marine Corps, and the lasting effect of their military service on themselves, their fellow Marines, and the Marine Corps." Reviewer Colonel Mary V. Stremlow, retired Marine Corps Reservist and author of the Corps' official History of Women Marines, finds it "remarkable" that "a man has understood [these women] so well."

Moving to the postwar era, two of this year's important titles are biographical works: Driven Patriot: The Life and Times of James Forrestal by Townsend Hoopes and Douglas Brinkley, and The Rickover Effect: How One Man Made a Difference by Theodore Rockwell. Both Forrestal and Rickover were major players in the Cold War drama. Forrestal's legacy is found in his work as secretary of both the Navy and Defense departments, especially the latter. Less widely recognized was his part in the formulation of the "containment" strategy that influenced U.S. foreign policy and military interventions during most of the Cold War.

Hyman Rickover's legacy is cast in the metal hulls of the Navy's submarine fleet. His longtime technical director, Theodore Rockwell, sheds new light on this complex and controversial leader. "This is the story of a man who changed the world," he begins. "He did most of it in about ten years, by the sheer force of his will and his wit. He did it in the 1950s, when many people would have you believe nobody was doing anything. And he did it as a low-level government bureaucrat, with little power and authority other than what he had created himself."

Edward J. Sheehy's The U.S. Navy, the Mediterranean, and the Cold War, 1945-1947 is another significant naval book that deals with the early days of the postwar era. In that critical period immediately following World War II, the U.S. Navy's presence in the Mediterranean was a key factor in the opening moves of the Cold War. Sheehy studies that formative period in detail, offering numerous insights useful to both naval strategists and students of the Cold War.

One major event in that long and ominous period we call the Cold War was the very hot Vietnam War. Three of this year's selected titles come from that trying and tumultuous war, which lasted so long it became an era.

From the Rivers to the Sea: The U.S. Navy in Vietnam by Commander Richard L. Schreadley, U.S. Navy (Retired), is the first one-volume, comprehensive history of the U.S. Navy's multifaceted roles in the Vietnam War. Other works have concentrated on the so-called "brown-water navy" or on the air war over North Vietnam, but none have had the panoramic sweep and vivid detail of this important new book. It rings with the authenticity of documented research and personal insight, having been carefully conceived, cogently analytical, and beautifully written.

Focusing on one of the many facets covered in Commander Schreadley's book is Riverine: A Brown Water Sailor in the Delta, 1967 by Don Sheppard, who commanded river patrol boats on the Bassac River in South Vietnam. Reviewer James Watters, Professor of History at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a Vietnam veteran, writes that "Sheppard grips his reader with alternate feelings of frustration, bravado, and tragedy that maintain the story's intensity from beginning to end." Former Commander Naval Forces, Vietnam, Rear Admiral Norvell G. Ward, calls this book a "vivid story" that recounts Sheppard's successful conversion of his division's tactics "from passive to aggressive."

The Marine Corps side of the Vietnam experience is explored in No Shining Armor: The Marines at War in Vietnam, an oral hi story compiled by Otto J. Lehrack, who interviewed Marines and sailors of the 3d Battalion, 3d Marines. The exploits of this battalion are recorded here in the words of more than 60 of its veterans. The contributors are both officer and enlisted and represent a wide variety of jobs and experiences. The format of the book takes them from Camp Pendleton in California to their final operation in Vietnam. Colonel John G. Miller, author of The Bridge at Dong Ha (Naval Institute Press, 1989), calls this book the "understated eloquence of Marines telling their own stories in their own words," and Colonel John W. Ripley, hero of the The Bridge at Dong Ha, calls it "an account told by the players at the mud level; honest, spontaneous, brutal, poignant."

More recent naval warfare is recounted in Admiral Sandy Woodward's One Hundred Days: The Memoirs of the Falklands Battle Group Commander. This admiral led the British force that sailed to the inhospitable South Atlantic in 1982 to recapture the Falkland Islands from the Argentineans who had seized them. This is a story of modern naval warfare, yet much of it could easily have occurred during the days of Admiral Horatio Nelson. Though the Royal Navy is no longer the reigning monarch of the seas it once was, the years and changing world situations have not diminished either the courage or the professionalism of the British sailor. Admiral Woodward's record provides a vivid portrayal of those inspiring men at sea.

An even more recent conflict that involved both British and U.S. sailors, as well as those from other nations, was the Persian Gulf War. Two books by the same author appeared this year to shed light on U.S. involvement in that region. Michael Palmer's On Course to Desert Storm: The United States Navy and the Persian Gulf records and analyzes U.S. naval involvement in that narrow but strategically vital body of water from the early 1800s through the "Tanker War" of 1987-88. This monograph provides excellent background material and prelude for a study of the Gulf War of 1990-91 (operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm), but it does not cover it specifically. Palmer's other noteworthy book, Guardians of the Gulf: A History of America's Expanding Role in the Persian Gulf, 1833-1992, is more comprehensive because it does include the recent Gulf War and because its coverage is not limited to the Navy's role. Palmer outlines the entire spectrum of U.S. involvement, looking back to the last century to trace long-term U.S. interests in the region. Both books have been very well received, and each has an important place in the growing literature on America's most recent war.

Rounding out the Notable Naval Books of 1992 are two that deal with leadership, that foundation upon which military organizations stand strong or collapse. LEAD ON! A Practical Approach to Leadership by Rear Admiral Dave Oliver, Jr., U.S. Navy, offers practical advice about building strong foundations of leadership: integrity, delegation of authority, trust and confidence, supervision, and consideration. Reviewer Vice Admiral Jerry Miller, U.S. Navy (Retired), comments that, in the process of citing personal experiences to illustrate his point, Oliver "provides a pretty good primer on basic submarine design, operations, and lifestyle."

Leonard F. Guttridge's Mutiny: A History of Naval Insurrection, on the other hand, deals with those times when leadership has failed to the extreme, bringing about the collapse of good order and discipline. This is no mere tour through the world of mutinous uprisings, which admittedly have an appeal similar to what motivates us to watch horror movies or read murder mysteries. Mutiny is a carefully researched and well-written work that provides a serious, as well as entertaining, study of naval insurrections. Included are the famous mutinies —Bounty and Potemkin, for example—and the not-so-famous ones, as well as those incidents perhaps better termed "quasi-mutinies," such as what occurred on board Lieutenant Commander Marcus Aurelius Arnheiter's destroyer escort Vance (DER-387) and the "passive resistance" of some of the aircraft carrier Constellation's crew during the Vietnam War.

Another year has passed, and again there is an impressive list of Notable Naval Books to participate in the ongoing conversation that helps determine the future of America's sea services and the roles they will play in keeping our nation strong and free. The high-caliber writers who have produced these books, as well as the many contributors to the Naval Institute's Proceedings, the Marine Corps Association's Leatherneck and Marine Corps Gazette, the Naval War College's Review, and many other important forums, have kept the dialogue alive and well. These men and women who write, and the thousands more who read what they have to say—whether they agree or disagree—are the true repositories of thought and the engines of change that will drive this ship of state and keep it on course.

Lieutenant Commander Cutler teaches the Naval War College's "Strategy and Policy" course at the U.S. Naval Academy. He also heads a Naval Junior ROTC unit and is now serving in his tenth year as a contributing editor to the Naval Institute's periodicals. He is currently working on a book about the battle of Leyte Gulf, scheduled for publication in 1994 by HarperCollins.

 

Building the Kaiser's Navy: The Imperial Naval Office and German Industry in the Tirpitz Era . Gary E. Weir. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1992. 289 pp. Append. Bib. Ind. Maps. Notes. Photos. $36.95 ($29.56).

Driven Patriot: The Life and Times of James Forrestal . Townsend Hoopes and Douglas Brinkley. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. 587 pp. Bib. Ind. Notes. Photos. $29.50 ($26.55).

The Eclipse of the Big Gun: The Warship, 1906-1945 . David K. Brown, consulting editor. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1992. 192 pp. Bib. Gloss. Illus. Ind. Photos. $39.95 ($31.96).

From the Rivers to the Sea: The U.S. Navy in Vietnam . Cdr. Richard L. Schreadley, USN (Ret.). Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1992. 415 pp. Bib. Illus. Ind. Notes. Photos. $29.95 ($23.96).

Guardians of the Gulf: A History of America's Expanding Role in the Persian Gulf, 1833-1992 . Michael A. Palmer. New York: MacMillan, Inc., 1992. 328 pp. Bib. Ind. Maps. Notes. Tables. $24.95 ($22.45).

History of the U.S. Navy . Robert W. Love, Jr. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1992. Vol. I, 766 pp. Vol. II, 912 pp. Bib. Gloss. Ind. Maps. Notes. Photos. $39.95 ($35.95) each.

LEAD ON! A Practical Approach to Leadership . RAdm. Dave Oliver, Jr., USN. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1992. 207 pp. $9.95 ($8.95) paper.

The Leverage of Sea Power: The Strategic Advantage of Navies in War . Colin S. Gray. New York: The Free Press, 1992.372 pp. Bib. Ind. Maps. Notes. $24.95 ($22.45).

Mutiny: A History of Naval Insurrection . Leonard F. Guttridge. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1992. 318 pp. Bib. Ind. Maps. Photos. $26.95 ($20.21).

No Shining Armor: The Marines at War in Vietnam . Otto J. Lehrack. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1992.398 pp. Append. Bib. Gloss. Ind. Maps. Photos. $34.00 ($27.20).

On Course to Desert Storm: The United States Navy and the Persian Gulf . Michael A. Palmer. Washington, DC: Naval Historical Center, 1992.225 pp. Append. Bib. Gloss. Ind. Maps. Notes. Photos. Tables. $11.00 ($9.90) paper.

One Hundred Days: The Memoirs of the Falklands Battle Group Commander . Adm. Sandy Woodward, RN (Ret.). Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1992. 384 pp. Illus. Photos. $24.95 ($19.96).

The Rickover Effect: How One Man Made a Difference . Theodore Rockwell. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1992. 411 pp. Illus. Ind. Maps. Photos. $24.95 ($19.96).

The Right Kind of War: A Novel . John McCormick. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1992. 333 pp. $21.00 ($16.80).

Riverine: A Brown Water Sailor in the Delta, 1967 . Don Sheppard. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1992. 326 pp. Photos. $22.95 ($20.66).

Tennozan: The Battle of Okinawa and the Atomic Bomb . George Feifer. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1992. 622 pp. Append. Bib. Ind. Maps. Notes. Photos. $29.95 ($26.95).

The U.S. Navy, the Mediterranean, and the Cold War, 1945-1947 . Edward J. Sheehy. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992. 200 pp. Bib. Gloss. Ind. Maps. Notes. Photos. $45.00 ($40.50).

Women Marines: The World War II Era . Capt. Peter A. Soderbergh, USMC (Ret.). Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1992. 189 pp. Bib. Ind. Notes. Photos. $39.95 ($35.95).

 

Thomas J. Cutler is a retired lieutenant commander and former gunner's mate second class who served in patrol craft, cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft carriers. His varied assignments included an in-country Vietnam tour, small craft command, and nine years at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he served as Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Seamanship & Navigation Department and Associate Chairman of the History Department. While at the Academy, he was awarded the William P. Clements Award for Excellence in Education (military teacher of the year).

He is the founder and former Director of the Walbrook Maritime Academy in Baltimore. Currently he is Fleet Professor of Strategy and Policy with the Naval War College and is the Director of Professional Publishing at the U.S. Naval Institute.

Winner of the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Naval Literature, the U.S. Naval Institute Press Author of the Year, and the U.S. Maritime Literature Award, his published works include NavCivGuide: A Handbook for Civilians in the U.S. Navy; A Sailor's History of the U.S. Navy [one of the books in the Chief of Naval Operations Reading Program]; The Battle of Leyte Gulf; Brown Water, Black Berets: Coastal & Riverine Warfare in Vietnam; and the 22nd, 23rd (Centennial), and 24th editions of The Bluejacket's Manual. His other works include revisions of Jack Sweetman's The Illustrated History of the U.S. Naval Academy and Dutton's Nautical Navigation. He and his wife, Deborah W. Cutler, are the co-editors of the Dictionary of Naval Terms and the Dictionary of Naval Abbreviations.

His books have been published in various forms, including paperback and audio, and have appeared as main and alternate selections of the History Book Club, Military Book Club, and Book of the Month Club. He has served as a panelist, commentator, and keynote speaker on military and writing topics at many events and for various organizations, including the Naval History and Heritage Command, Smithsonian Institution, the Navy Memorial, U.S. Naval Academy, MacArthur Memorial Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, U.S. Naval Institute, Armed Forces Electronics Communications and Electronics Association, Naval War College, Civitan, and many veterans' organizations. His television appearances include the History Channel's Biography series, A&E's Our Century, Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, and CBS's 48 Hours.

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