Notable Naval Books of 1993

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

Because of this diversity, the sea services have long suffered a degree of difficulty describing themselves in a generic sense. Adjectives such as "naval" and "maritime" and nouns like "sea power" fail to describe fully the scope and the depth of what these components contribute in the broadest sense.

Such is the case with this year's Notable Naval Books. The word "naval" is somewhat of a misnomer because it only partially describes what these literary contributions encompass. But in the interests of tradition and convention, and because no other term quite describes the full range of the sea services, we will risk the potential of perceived injury and continue to refer to these notable works as naval , while recognizing that they reflect, among other things, the great diversity of missions and capabilities of the sea services.

Marine Corps

In a small gesture toward avoiding the parochial viewpoint, we will resist the temptation to begin with the Surface Navy and look first at this year's Marine Corps contributions. This is reasonable since there have been Marines, or their equivalents, on warships for as long as there have been warships, and because this year's List of notable books includes no less than seven titles reflecting the Marine Corps' contributions to the diverse nature of the sea services.

With the current considerations of downsizing the armed forces and the consequent redefinition of missions, Jack Shulimson's The Marine Corps' Search for a Mission, 1880-1898 (University Press of Kansas) is a particularly timely contribution. While there are certainly differences between the late 19th century and our own times, there are axioms of human behavior and some indelible principles that have relevance to both eras. This is an important work not only for historians but also for those who seek advice from the experiences of the past. Lieutenant Colonel Merrill L. Bartlett, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired), the biographer of General John A. Lejeune, writes:

This seminal work is for serious scholars of naval history. Buffs content to accept, without question, shopworn accounts of Marine Corps heroism or colorful eccentricities of that era will not find Dr. Shulimson's scholarly vivisection an easy read.

Another look at mission definition and operational reform is Allan R. Millett's In Many a Strife: General Gerald C. Thomas and the U.S. Marine Corps, 1917-1956 (Naval Institute Press). General Thomas played an important role in the shaping of the 20th-century Marine Corps, helping to develop the amphibious capabilities that proved so critical in World War II and aiding the necessary evolution into a Cold War force-in-readiness. Dr. Millett's biography is an excellent study of an important officer and of the military and political realities he had to confront and helped shape.

No reflection upon the U.S. Marine Corps can take place without at least a partial review of its role in World War II. Two of this year's notable books focus on that epoch. Up the Slot: Marines in the Central Solomons by Major Charles D. Melson, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired), and Across the Reef: The Marine Assault on Tarawa by Colonel Joseph Alexander, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired), are serious studies of two of the important campaigns in the Pacific War, published by the Marine Corps History and Museums Division in Washington, D.C., which has an established reputation for producing high-quality works.

Also from Marine Corps History and Museums are three titles relating to the Persian Gulf War. All are part of a series under the main title of U.S. Marines in the Persian Gulf War, 1990-1991, but each is a separate volume with individual subtitles. With the 1st Marine Division in Desert Shield and Desert Storm and With the I Marine Expeditionary Force in Desert Shield and Desert Storm were written respectively by Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Cureton, U. S. Marine Corps Reserve, and Colonel Charles J. Quilter, II, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. With the 2d Marine Division in Desert Shield and Desert Storm is the work of Lieutenant Colonel Dennis P. Mroczkowski, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. These volumes present a detailed view of the operations of each of the named components and together they provide an important historical record of Marine participation in this most recent of American wars.

Surface Warfare

Long before some of the diversifications in naval warfare came to pass, there were ships and a corollary mission now called "surface warfare." Various components of that generic description are found among the notable naval books of 1993, including some whose time has come and since faded and others of a more modern nature.

Among those elements of surface warfare now relegated to the past is the Age of Sail, and that era is brought vividly back to life by the informed and wonderfully descriptive pen of Patrick O'Brian. His latest work, The Wine-Dark Sea (W.W. Norton), is the most recent of a long series of novels that, until now, have escaped recognition in this annual survey of notable works. This oversight is indeed unfortunate, for Mr. O'Brian's books are marvelous recreations of a time and a way of life that the intervening years have obscured almost beyond our ability to appreciate. His collected works surpass the legendary contributions of C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower series in their ability to put readers into another time and let them experience both the exhilaration and the demands of life—and war—at sea during the Napoleonic era. The wild pitching of wooden decks, the symphony of creaking yards and beating canvas, the cacophony of cannonfire, and the strange yet distantly familiar customs of the Royal Navy of the early 1800s are only a few of the many vicarious experiences that await the reader of these novels. Mr. O'Brian has brought a form of "virtual reality" to sea literature.

Like several of the Marine Corps works cited, Spencer C. Tucker's The Jeffersonian Gunboat Navy (University of South Carolina Press) deals with a time in which the definition of a service's mission was an ongoing struggle. Dr. Tucker reevaluates a naval policy that often has been characterized as pure folly. While he does not completely exonerate President Thomas Jefferson for his myopic decision to build a purely defensive navy, Dr. Tucker does take an objective look at that decision and provides a detailed analysis of what it wrought.

In the almost simultaneous transitions from sail to steam and from wood to steel, a strange collection of hermaphroditic ships emerged that combined vestiges of a dying past with the progenitors of developing technologies. Some of these vessels are captured in the brush and pencil strokes of a talented artist in Ian Marshall's Ironclads and Paddlers (Howell Press). These artistic renderings are accompanied by an informative narrative that explains the development and significance of these transitional warships. Included are the very different—yet conceptually related—ships, the USS Monitor of Civil War fame and the USS Olympia of the Spanish-American War era. Former Naval Academy Museum director Kenneth Hagan and his colleague Grant Walker describe this book as "a paean to the Victorian era, [that] resonates with a tender nostalgia for the warhorses that enforced the last days of the Pax Britannica."

More modern times are addressed in the latest novel by sailor-turned-writer Vice Admiral William P. Mack, U.S. Navy (Retired), and in a scholarly study of Japanese and U.S. wartime documents. Admiral Mack's New Guinea (Nautical & Aviation Publishing) and Mark P. Parillo's The Japanese Merchant Marine in World War II (Naval Institute Press) are very different looks at that greatest of all naval wars which raged in the vast expanses of the Pacific a half-century ago. Like Admiral Mack's previous works, this novel is told from the American point of view and relies upon the admiral's own experiences for the authenticity that always complements the good sea yams he spins. Dr. Parillo's study is a well-researched analysis of the reasons behind the failure of the Japanese to protect their vital merchant fleet. Both books take their rightful places in the ever-growing pantheon of World War II literature.

A subsidiary branch of surface warfare—often woefully overlooked by strategists and historians—is mine warfare. Edward J. Marolda's Operation End Sweep: A History of Minesweeping Operations in North Vietnam (Naval Historical Center) is an excellent study of that unusual event, revealing not only the unique aspects of that particular operation but also the significance of this specialized form of warfare. Dr. Marolda's carefully researched and well-written account is characteristic of the high standards typical of the literature contributed by the Naval Historical Center. An interesting aspect of this book is the essential role of helicopters in the accomplishment of the mission, testifying to the importance of the integration of assets and capabilities that is the foundation of today's quest for "jointness" in warfare.

Air Warfare

Joint Air Operations: Pursuit of Unity in Command and Control, 1942-1991 (Naval Institute Press) by James A. Winnefeld and Dana J. Johnson serves well those who promote joint warfare. Examining six different joint operations in which air forces were a major factor—i.e., Midway, the Solomons, Korea, Vietnam, Libya, and the Persian Gulf—the authors search for principles that might be used in the planning and execution of future joint operations. Their conclusions are enlightening and thought-provoking, serving as both answers and the stimulus to further questions.

Air power at sea during World War II is remembered in an oral history collection entitled Carrier Warfare in the Pacific (Smithsonian Institution Press), edited by Captain E. T. Wooldridge, U.S. Navy (Retired). Recalled are the exploits and trials of not only pilots and aircrews but the officers and men of carrier crews and the admirals and their staffs who directed the carrier strike forces in the Pacific. These first-hand accounts—culled from the Oral History Collection of the U.S. Naval Institute—capture the thoughts and feelings of a different breed of sailor while recreating the momentous events of the Pacific War, from the uncertain days of Doolittle’s raid on Tokyo in 1942 to when the U.S. Navy ruled the skies over the world's largest ocean in 1945.

Two of this year's notables focus on very different times and challenges, yet there is common ground as naval air power is brought to bear in unusual circumstances. Sea Harrier Over the Falklands: A Maverick at War (Naval Institute Press) by Commander "Sharkey" Ward, Royal Navy (Retired), tells the story of how 20 Sea Harriers challenged more than 200 Argentine military aircraft and—despite the odds—prevailed. Another era is the milieu of Sailor of the Air: The 1917-1919 Letters and Diary of USN CMM/A Irving Edward Sheely (University of Alabama Press), edited by his nephew, Lawrence D. Sheely. Young Landsman Machinist Mate Second Class Sheely went off to fight in a world war at a time when the term "naval aviation" was nearly as foreign as the soil from which he flew eventually. These fledgling days are revealed as Sheely flies as an "observer/gunner" on some of the first antisubmarine air patrols in history.

Submarine Warfare

Years before Petty Officer Sheely made his pioneering patrols in search· of German U-boats, a visionary by the name of Jules Verne was predicting the coming of the submarine in his classic novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Naval Institute Press). Verne's prescience and the story of Captain Nemo are familiar to most of us, but what has escaped attention for more than a century is that Verne's work suffered from a poor translation. This is no small matter of a few words here and there, for the original English translator omitted nearly a quarter of the original text, made unauthorized additions, and committed numerous errors. This new translation by Walter J. Miller and Frederick Paul Walter rectifies this unfortunate situation and elevates Jules Verne's work from the realm of children's stories into the world of serious literature. None of the original appeal of this classic work has been lost in the process; instead, we are treated to the unusual circumstance of having the great made greater.

A more modern novel centering on submarines and their antagonists is Scorpion in the Sea (St. Martin's Press) by Captain P. T. Deutermann, U.S. Navy (Retired). In a scene reminiscent of Verne's classic work, this gripping story begins with a vessel's mysterious disappearance off the Florida coast. Publishers Weekly describes this book as a "high-octane compound of techno-thriller and military procedural that satisfies on several levels."

A non-fiction notable contribution to submarine warfare is Gary Weir's Forged in War: The Naval-Industrial Complex and American Submarine Construction, 1940-1941 (Naval Historical Center), in which the symbiotic collaboration of the Navy, industry, and the scientific community is described in fascinating and revealing detail. Incredible scientific achievements, tremendous naval power, and substantial economic impact all resulted from that collaboration, and a study of how these things came to pass has great relevance to what the Navy is today and where it is going tomorrow.

Surveys and General Titles Several of this year's notable naval books do not focus upon specific warfare areas, but are more generic in nature. An important example is Dr. Michael T. Isenberg's Shield of the Republic: The United States Navy in an Era of Cold War and Violent Peace, 1945-1962 (St. Martin's Press). This seminal work is the first of a planned two volumes that scrutinize the post-World War II Navy. Dr. Isenberg is an accomplished historian and a naval officer who effectively has drawn on this background in this well-written and carefully researched work. It is no small undertaking to attempt to synthesize the story of a multifaceted service facing the challenges of a Cold War, great social upheaval, accelerated technological growth, and a myriad of other problems and considerations. But Professor Isenberg has succeeded, not only in writing important history but in presenting it in an engaging style that brings the characters and events vividly forward.

Covering many facets of naval warfare as practiced in World War II is Sea Battles in Close-up: Volume Two (Naval Institute Press) by Eric Grove. Air, surface, and submarine operations are all involved in the selected battles covered in this book. The locations of these battles span the globe—e.g., Narvik, Crete, the Java Sea, and Leyte Gulf. As in the well-received first volume, Professor Grove combines concise narrative with detailed maps and an assortment of photographs to present a clear picture of each battle.

There were other significant happenings off the battlefield during World War II. The importance of many were not obvious at the time but they were no less significant in their far-reaching effects. Paul Stillwell's The Golden Thirteen: Recollections of the First Black Naval Officers (Naval Institute Press) recalls the extraordinary experiences and achievements of a group of men who were forced by circumstances beyond their control to take on the additional responsibilities of being social pioneers while facing the normal challenges of men who are trying to serve their nation in its hour of need. This landmark book is both humbling and inspiring as it reveals a chapter of American history that has its roots in shameful deeds and practices and yet is an account of unusual courage and determination.

Another social phenomenon having great impact on the U.S. Navy has been the ever-growing role of women. Shedding light on this significant change is an outstanding book by Jean Ebbert and Marie Beth-Hall titled Crossed Currents: Navy Women from World War I to Tailhook (Brassey's U.S.). Ever since Loretta Perfectus Walsh—the first U.S. servicewoman not a nurse—entered the U.S . Navy as a "yeomanette," women have struggled for acceptance, and this work captures much of that struggle. In his foreword to the book, Captain Edward L. Beach, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes that Crossed Currents is the chronicle of this battle for acceptance "ending with the most objective analysis of the 'Tailhook' incident that I have yet come upon." Former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo Zumwalt calls this book "a must read."

This year's notable naval books reflect both the diverse capabilities and the evolutionary nature of the sea services. Advancements in technology and social changes have brought those services a long way from the days of sail-powered vessels with sharpshooting Marines perched among their yards. Missions, capabilities, and even the human beings that serve have changed markedly, giving credence to the old adage that "the only constant is change." Yet there are indeed constants here. No matter what the race or sex of sailors and Marines, no matter if they ply the waves, submerge to the depths, or soar in the skies above the sea, no matter if they are part of a purely naval operation or the components of a joint endeavor, those who "do business in the great waters" will always require substantial measures of courage and endurance. Most important of all, they will prevail only if they have the flexibility to capitalize upon change.

A frequent contributor to Proceedings and Naval History, Lieutenant Commander Cutler is the author of Brown Water, Black Berets: Coastal and Riverine Warfare in Vietnam (Naval Institute Press, 1988) and the forthcoming The Battle of Leyte Gulf (Harper Collins).

 

Across the Reef: The Marine Assault on Tarawa . Col. Joseph Alexander, USMC (Ret.). Washington, DC: Marine Corps History and Museums Division, 1993. 52 pp. Illus. Maps. Notes. Photos. Free. Order directly from: Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.

Carrier Warfare in the Pacific . Capt. E. T. Wooldridge, USN (Ret.), (Ed.). Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993. 286 pp. Append. Gloss. Ind. Map. Photos. $24.95 ($23.70).

Crossed Currents: Navy Women from World War I to Tailhook . Jean Ebbert and Marie Beth-Hall. McLean, VA: Brassey's U.S., 1993. 321 pp. Ind. Photos. $25.00 ($22.50).

Forged in War: The Naval-Industrial Complex and American Submarine Construction, 1940-1941 . Gary Weir. Washington, DC: Naval Historical Center, 1993. Bib. Gloss. Ind. Notes. Photos. $14.00 ($13.30) 314 pp.

The Golden Thirteen: Recollections of the First Black Naval Officers . Paul Stillwell. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1993. 256 pp. Illus. Ind. Photos. $23.95 ($19.16).

In Many a Strife: General Gerald C. Thomas and the U.S. Marine Corps, 1917-1956 . Allan R. Millett. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1993.480 pp. Ind. Maps. Notes. $39.95 ($31.96).

Ironclads and Paddlers . Ian Marshall. Charlottesville, VA: Howell Press, 1993. 108 pp. Bib. Illus. Ind. Notes. $34.95 ($33.20).

The Japanese Merchant Marine in World War II . Mark P. Parillo. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1993. 308 pp. Append. Bib. Illus. Ind. Maps. Notes. Photos. Tables. $28.95 ($23.16).

The Jeffersonian Gunboat Navy . Spencer C. Tucker. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1993. 280 pp. Append. Bib. Figs. Illus. Ind. Maps. Notes. Tables. $39.95 ($37.95).

Joint Air Operations: Pursuit of Unity in Command and Control, 1942-1991 . Radm. James A. Winnefeld, USN (Ret.) and Dana J. Johnson. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1993. 256 pp. Append. Bib. Figs. Ind. Notes. Photos. Tables. $29.95 ($23.96).

The Marine Corps' Search for a Mission, 1880-1898 . Jack Shulimson. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1993. 274 pp. Bib. Ind. Notes. Photos. $35.00. ($31.50).

New Guinea . Vadm. W. P. Mack, USN (Ret.). Baltimore, MD: Nautical & Aviation Publishing, 1993. 430 pp. $22.95 ($18.36).

Operation End Sweep: A History of Minesweeping Operations in North Vietnam . Edward J. Marolda. Washington, DC: Naval Historical Center, 1993. 113 pp. Append. Ind. Maps. Photos. $7.50 ($7.50).

Sailor of the Air: The 1917-1919 Letters and Diary of USN CMM/A Irving Edward Sheely . Lawrence D. Sheely (Ed.). Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1993. 240 pp. Append. Bib. Illus. Ind. Maps. Photos. $29.95 ($26.96).

Scorpion in the Sea . Capt. P. T. Deutermann, USN (Ret.). New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993.582 pp. $6.99 ($6.99) Paper.

Sea Battles in Close-up: World War 2-Volume Two . Eric Grove. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1993.220 pp. Bib. Ind. Maps. Photos. Tables. $24.95 ($19.96).

Sea Harrier Over the Falklands: A Maverick at War . Cdr. "Sharkey" Ward, RN (Ret.). Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1993. 296 pp. Append. Gloss. Illus. Ind. Maps. $25.95 ($20.76).

Shield of the Republic: The United States Navy in an Era of Cold War and Violent Peace, 1945-1962 . Dr. Michael T. Isenberg. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993. 836 pp. Ind. Maps. Notes. Photos. $35.00 ($31.50).

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea . Jules Verne (Trans. by Walter J. Miller and Frederick Paul Walter) Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1993. 416 pp. Append. Illus. Notes. $24.95 ($19.96) Hardcover $14.95 ($11.21) Paper.

Up the Slot: Marines in the Central Solomons . Maj. Charles D. Melson, USMC (Ret.). Washington, DC: Marine Corps History and Museums Division, 1993. 36 pp. Illus. Maps. Notes. Photos. Free. Order directly from: Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.

U.S. Marines in the Persian Gulf: With the I Marine Expeditionary Force in Desert Shield and Desert Storm . Col. Charles J. Quilter, II, USMCR. Washington, DC: Marine Corps History and Museums Division, 1993. 116 pp. Append. Illus. Ind. Maps. Notes. Photos. $14.00 ($13.30). Paper.

U.S. Marines in the Persian Gulf: With the 1st Marine Division in Desert Shield and Desert Storm . Lt. Col. Charles H. Cureton, USMCR. Washington, DC: Marine Corps History and Museums Division, 1993. 148 pp. Append. Illus. Ind. Maps. Notes. Photos. $14.00 ($13.30). Paper.

U.S. Marines in the Persian Gulf: With the 2d Marine Division in Desert Shield and Desert Storm . Lt.Col. Dennis P. Mroczkowski, USMCR. Washington, DC: Marine Corps History and Museums Division, 1993. 110 pp. Append. Illus. Ind. Maps. Notes. Photos. $14.00 ($13.30). Paper.

The Wine-Dark Sea . Patrick O'Brian. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993. 261 pp. $22.00 ($19.80).

 

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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