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The Path Between the Seas: he Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914
David McCullough. New York: Simon and Shuster, 1977. 698 pp. Illus. Maps. ^PPend. Bib. Ind. $14.95 ($13.46).*
he Panama Canal: The Crisis In Historical Perspective
falter LaFeber. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978. 248 pp. Illus. append. $10.95 ($9.86).* he Panama Canal Controversy: S. Diplomacy and Defense Interests
Paul B. Ryan. Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1977. 198 pp. Illus. Maps. Append. Bib. Ind. $5.95 ($5.36) Paper.*
Reviewed by Thomas H. Etzold
(Professor Etzold received bis Ph.D. in d"terican diplomatic history from Yale diversity, and is now Professor of Strategy at 1 e Naval War College, Newport, Rhode sf“nd. His articles on the Panama Canal bate have appeared in recent months in The Washington Post and The Boston Globe.)
Since 1964, the United States and rhe Republic of Panama have been negotiating almost continuously, in an attempt to restructure the American Presence in Panama in ways more favorable to that Latin American county. In April 1977, the American Press reported that the Carter Admin- •stration had reached agreement on treaty terms; in September 1977, two treaties providing for the return of the Canal Zone, and ultimately the canal •tself, to Panama were signed in Washington; and in April 1978, the C.S. Senate, after three months of debate, advised and consented to ratification of the treaties.
This sequence of events has stimulated a continued and heated public debate. For a variety of reasons, and somewhat to the surprise of successive ’For details on ordering books and special prices see the Book Order Service note in the Books of Interest to the Professional Department.
American presidents, the Panama Canal has caught the emotions and imaginations of a great proportion of the American people. American literature usually describes the acquisition of a concession to build and operate a canal in Panama, though politically crude, as colorful and tinged with the spirit of adventurous bravado, so much the essence of American frontier style. Americans loved it in Teddy Roosevelt in 1903; and they loved it in Gerald Ford in 1975 at the time of the Mayaguez' recovery.
The building of the canal was an epic, veritably a classic struggle of men against nature—and human nature—and one in which the American protagonists triumphed. Finally, for many years the canal possessed actual and unique strategic and economic significance for the United States and for the Western Hemisphere. It became a focus of U.S. strategic thinking, elevating the Caribbean to considerable strategic importance and resulting in the establishment of the Southern Command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) in the Canal Zone. To this day, despite many proposals for its abolishment, the Southern Command remains one of eight unified and specified commands of the JCS.
Of the three books under review here, only Ryan’s is written with a clear anticipation of the public debate looming after February 1974. The controversy began when Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Foreign Minister Juan Antonio Tack initialed a statement of principles for further negotiation that clearly signalled large concessions from the American side. Yet, all three books contribute to the contemporary controversy.
As a professional writer, McCullough has produced a book that is exceptionally good reading by any standard, even though it is slightly overloaded with details. Although his volume does not directly address the current political issues, it has become a source book for senators and staffs seeking present enlightenment through study of the past. Passages from the book were read into the Congressional Record in the first days of debates on the treaties.
McCullough’s purpose was to write about the Panama Canal as "a profoundly important historical event and a sweeping human drama not unlike that of war,” focussing especially on the people who envisioned and then realized an isthmian canal. His simile is apt: the Panama Canal took 40 years to build, including the French efforts before 1903; it cost more than anything ever had before with the possible exception of some wars; and it had profound political and economic consequences for some of the greatest, as well as some of the lesser, states of the world. As McCullough notes, the building of the canal required—and resulted in—great progress in engineering, medicine, government- business relations, and dozens of associated fields of endeavor. If the book has a flaw, it is weakness in the finer points of diplomatic history. These, however, are much more important to political than to epic history, and so do not constitute a serious liability in terms of the book’s expressed purpose.
LaFeber, a diplomatic historian at Cornell University, set out to write an up-to-date history of U.S.-Panamanian relations. He interprets the beginnings of those relations as American indulgence in European- style colonialism and imperialism. He views recent American concessions to be necessary but uneasy adjustments to increasing limitations on American power. In a concluding chapter LaFeber addresses five questions— actual ownership of territory in the zone, Panamanian repayment of the original U.S. investment, the importance of the canal to American interests, the consequences of congressional refusal to accept the new treaties, and Panamanian motives. These, he thinks, are central to the present debates about the treaties.
LaFeber’s conclusion is that the
United States is obligated to compensate for the injustices done Panama over the years, and that it will not significantly endanger American interests to do so. As diplomatic history, the book is a beginning, not an end, in investigating U.S.-Panamanian relations, as LaFeber modestly recognizes in his preface. As a contribution to the present debates, it has a weakness, for LaFeber’s values—not his weighing of evidence—have led to his conclusions. Those readers not sharing his values are unlikely to be persuaded.
A retired Navy captain, Ryan has turned to diplomatic history as a profession. Like LaFeber, Ryan attempts to summarize the course of U.S.- Panamanian relations, but his principal interest is evident in his subtitle. He believes that the central question of the debate should be the defense interests of the United States, and is convinced that the new treaties do not adequately provide for those interests. Although he does not sustain his conclusion by logical and systematic evaluation of the numerous aspects of the security question in Panama, he raises the issue with sufficient clarity to merit attention.
Although the Senate has made its decision on the new treaties, it seems reasonably safe to predict that this decision will be at most a landmark, and not the terminus, of public discussion on the issue. Doubtless all of these books will continue to be read, and deservedly. It is interesting to note that all of the authors seem to subscribe to a view most explicit in LaFeber’s book, namely, that debates on problems such as those between Panama and the United States should be shaped by historical knowledge. It
seems to this reviewer, however, that present-day calculations of national interest, and not historical justice, are the most appropriate standard for assessing the treaties.
|3i Clear the Bridge! The War Patrols of the USS Tang
Rear Adm. Richard H. O’Kane, USN (Ret.). Chicago: Rand McNally, 1977.
480 pp. Illus. Maps. Ind. $12.50 ($10.00).*
Reviewed by Rear Admiral John R. Wadleigh, U.S. Navy (Retired)
(Rear Admiral Wadleigh served on hoard the USS Yorktown [CVS] and several cruisers during World War II. His commands at sea included the USS John R. Pierce [DD-453], Grand Canyon [AD-28], Springfield [CLG-7], Escort Squadron 16, and Cruiser Destroyer Flotillas 4 and 12. He also served as Deputy Director and Director, Naval Communications and as Director of Operations, Defense Communications System. He retired in 1971 as Commander Training Command, Atlantic Fleet.)
“We are, after all, mariners first and submariners second, with a continuing love for all ships and the sea.” These words conclude this narrative of the USS Tang (SS-306) in World War II. This quotation has given your reviewer, a surface sailor with only brief undersea dives for indoctrination, the audacity to judge Dick O’Kane’s absorbing story of his first command, a ship which many submariners claim was “the best.”
Today’s nuclear submarines operate primarily submerged. For the Tang the opposite was true: her transits to patrol areas were on the surface, and in action she often conducted surfaced attacks. Without her surface speed and her skipper’s and crew’s fearless will to use that speed, the Tang would never have made history. Her men were truly mariners first!
The author, a first classman at the
Naval Academy in 1934, is remem bered by the plebes as being positive and demanding. When he had the watch, my fellow plebes and I brace and hoped our answers were correct. In 1943, O’Kane realized every lme officer’s goal, command at sea. His was a choice command, the new Tang, the first deep-hull submarine to be built at Mare Island Navy Yard. He had earned this with almost unbroken sea duty since graduation, first in surface ships, then Submarine School, and three years in the cumbersome submarine-minelayer Argonaut (SM-0- As executive officer of the Wahoo US- 238), he won his spurs for comman under a most inspirational submariner, Commander Dudley W- (“Mush”) Morton. On their last patro together, Morton’s words, “Tenacity, Dick. Stay with the bastard till hes on the bottom,” became standar operating procedure for the Tang.
Clear the Bridge divides into six parts easily, the first covering tbe Tang’s shakedown, and each of the others a war patrol. From the fifSt enemy contact while on beacon station for our Midway-based seaplanes bombing Wake Island, until the Tang’s destruction in the Formosa Strait, action after action is described with occasional pauses for accounts on replenishments at Midway and Pearl Harbor.
Immediately, we sense the togetherness of submarine life. There are few secrets on board when 80 men with a common mission work under confined and dangerous conditions. Even radio “Ultras” from Pearl Harbor soon become known. Recent books on declassified “Ultra” allowed the author
to give this vital communications
weapon suitable emphasis in his narrative.
If the Tang had dull days, we read of few. There were always drills for the new hands on each patrol. And there is a classic description of “fire m the galley,” which was started by the deep fat fryer, an instrument of the devil still plaguing our ships. For the Tang’s crew, one fire was enough. The crew threw the fryer overboard, and if a survey report was filed with the Bureau of Ships, O’Kane fails to mention it.
The Tang’s service as lifeguard for carrier strikes on Truk is vividly portrayed. Twenty-two downed aviators, including 12 towed alongside by a oat plane from the battleship North Carolina (BB-55), were brought home °n this second patrol. There were extra lookouts and radiomen, but “hot unking” was mandatory until reaches Pearl Harbor.
O Kane’s submarine was officially credited with 24 sinkings totalling 93,284 tons. Each action is well described as the Tang combs the Yellow ^ea> surfaces close to the Japanese coast, and battles both weather and enemy off Formosa. As one patrol ends the writer chides himself for running away but recalls a submarine axiom, when torpedoes are gone, running scared is the only way to run."
On departure for the fourth patrol the captain’s night orders read, “Do not be lulled by 2,500 miles between us and the enemy’s front door. He can be here just as surely as we will be there." This patrol was the last for Lieutenant Commander Murray B.
("Fraz”) Frazee, Jr., as the Tang’s executive officer. The close-knit captain-executive officer team is emphasized continually, and “Fraz” was sorely missed when he graduated to his own first command.
As the last patrol begins, Frank H. Springer, the Tang’s fire control officer who had become the exec, rounds up the younger officers to observe and follow O’Kane’s departure inspection. On the skipper’s arrival to look at the forward engine room all hands stand to attention and salute. The salute is smartly returned as O’Kane walks aft and drops five feet into the lower flat. For the remainder of the patrol the skipper hobbles on an injured left foot, attended by “Doc,” Chief Paul L. Larson, the veteran pharmacist’s mate who vows he can do as well as medics ashore.
The fifth patrol coincided with the Leyte landings and can best be described in the words of Theodore Ros- coe, author of United States Submarine Operations in World War II (Naval Institute Press, 1949), “Formosa Strait bottleneck was tightly plugged at the northern end, and a single submarine served as cork. That submarine was TANG." After seven sinkings, the Tang fired her last torpedo which unpredictably circled and, before the submarine could maneuver, hit her aft. Thirty crew members were able to escape their sinking ship, but only nine survived the seas and Japanese prison camps to come home.
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The Tang’s two Presidential Unit Citations and the Congressional Medal of Honor presented to Commander O’Kane by President H.S. Truman are proof of the Navy’s auspicious assessment of Tang’s operations. These accomplishments have been portrayed in official histories, but in Clear the Bridge we have more than official records. We have a significant contribution to the Navy’s proud history, a narration written by the best possible source: the one man responsible for everything that did or did not take place in the SS-306, her only commanding officer.
131 Beaufort of the Admiralty: The Life of Sir Francis Beaufort 1774-1857
Alfred Friendly. New York: Random House, 1977. 362 pp. Illus. Maps. Append. Bib. Ind. $15.00 ($13.50).*
Reviewed by Rear Admiral Richard Lane, U. S. Navy (Retired)
(Admiral Lane graduated from the Naval Academy in 1933: during World War II he was gunnery officer of the USS Mississippi [BB-41 ], flagship of the battle line at Surigao Strait. He is now president of a Washington- based investment corporation.)
Those who appreciated the Horatio Hornblower stories will find this biography of Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, Royal Navy, Hornblower’s flesh-and-blood contemporary, well worth the price. The author, Alfred Friendly, a Pulitzer prize-winning foreign correspondent and former managing editor of The Washington Post, became interested in Beaufort while vacationing in southern Turkey. His interest stemmed from a survey Beaufort had published of the area in 1812. In a subsequent extensive research, Friendly found a wealth of letters and journals in addition to the expected references. Already a keen observer of human nature, yet lacking the benefit of a nautical background, Friendly has become a competent naval commentator in preparing this biography.
Like Horatio Hornblower, Francis Beaufort had the proper attributes of a successful officer in the Royal Navy. Intelligent, perceptive, dedicated, courageous, and courtly, he was acclaimed by seniors and peers alike. Wounded 19 times in one battle (plus once more in a “peaceful assault”), Beaufort’s rapid advancement would seem logical to a present-day American observer. But unlike Hornblower and others, Beaufort lacked friends at the Admiralty and eventually reached flag rank by seniority and by transferring to the retired list at age 72.
Beaufort was perhaps fortunate in having studied astronomy at age 15 and having been shipwrecked in the East Indies at the same age. At a time when the advancement of science was popular and the Royal Navy was in the forefront of scientific effort and achievement, Beaufort’s dedication to astronomy and charting eventually led to his appointment in 1814 as Hy- drographer of the Admiralty at the age of 55. It was he, of course, who had earlier originated the Beaufort scale of wind velocities, well known to modern mariners. Eventually recognized internationally and loaded with honors, he was still the Royal Navy’s hy- drographer at the outbreak of the Crimean War (1854), when at age 80, “deaf, enfeebled and in pain, racked by a sequence of illnesses,” he could not be spared from his post.
Beaufort’s long and happy tenure as hydrographer was a classic case of the right man in the right job at the right time. Earlier charts had been notoriously inaccurate. The British Empire was approaching the zenith of its worldwide expanse; with the industrial revolution, British merchant ships, as well as those of the Royal Navy, probed almost every body of water their drafts would permit. Under Beaufort, a “workaholic” as well as an enthusiast, the Admiralty chart became a model of reliability.
Beaufort’s talents were not only confined to hydrography. Persisting in the belief of a navigable Northwest Passage, he was a leader in the planning and support of various arctic expeditions. He directed the Arctic Council in its long searches for Sir John Franklin, lost on his last voyage of polar exploration.
The reading of Beaufort’s career seems like a dream visit to an English country house—strange yet familiar—where guests from history appear and reappear. For instance, Captain Bligh, on his return from the Bounty mutiny, brought news to England of the loss off Batavia of the ship *n which Beaufort first sailed. Later, as a ship commander, Beaufort sails m company with Bligh. Nelson s rela tionship with Beaufort is described as a cordial, not intimate, one; while the relationship between Beaufort and Jervis, Lord St. Vincent, when the latter was First Lord of the Admiralty, was one of disaccord. It was Beaufort who was instrumental in having young Charles Darwin appointed a naturalist on the epic second voyage of the Beagle. Friends, such as the U-S- Navy’s hydrographer, Matthew Fontaine Maury, scientists, prime ministers, and even Queen Victoria come and go.
The author also gives full attention to Beaufort’s private life. A personal cipher, occasionally used in writing to a brother and in journals, is the source for much of the material about Beaufort’s private life. While withholding a halo from his subject, Friendly is properly sympathetic in his treatment of Beaufort’s personal life- In addition to his naval and scientific virtues, Beaufort was charming, kind, and generous, but he was also vain and occasionally felt persecuted. The suggestion of an incestuous relationship in Beaufort’s later life, as brought out in the biography, is, in the opinion of this reviewer, immaterial and inappropriate.
Guess Who’s Not Coming to Dinner?
In 1911, Vice Admiral Alfred Winsloe, in HMS Minotaur, was at anchor in the harbor of Shanghai. An American warship was also present whose captain’s wife and 12-year-old daughter lived ashore. The girl’s parents had the ill-advised habit of including her in all festivities and functions.
When the British admiral sent a signal to the American warship inviting the captain and his wife to dine, the captain accepted the invitation and added, “We have a daughter. "Hearty congratulations,” signaled the British admiral.
Captain Edgar K. Thompson USN, (Retired)
Books of Interest to the Professional
Compiled by Professor Jack Sweetman, Associate Editor
Anstriche und Tarnanstriche der deutschen Kriegsmarine (Colors and Camouflage of the German Navy) j^ieter Jung, Arno Abendroth, and Norbert e^>ng. Munich: Bernard & Graefe Verlag, 1977- 143 pp. Ulus. DM 28 (Approx. $14.00) Paper.
The camouflage colors and patterns of the German Navy in World War II are given definitive treatment in this well-executed m°nograph. The illustrations include 190 photographs and 16 plates of camouflage Patterns, eight of them in color. The Photos are captioned in English as well as German.
E2 A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy (1941-1945)
haul S. Dull. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute hfess, 1978. 402 pp. Illus. Maps. Append.
B‘h. Ind. $23.95 ($19.15).
The first Western publication to tell the story of the Imperial Japanese Navy in
World War II on the basis of Japanese official records, this is a book destined to take a place on the shelves of all serious students of the Pacific conflict. A synthesis of 260 microfilm reels of documents seized at the end of the war and the ongoing official history prepared by the Japanese Defense Force (90 volumes to date), it provides an enthralling perspective from "the other side of the hill.” Dr. Dull, Professor Emeritus of Asian history at the University of Oregon, served in the war as a Marine Corps language and intelligence officer.
Grumman Guidebook: Volume I
Mitch Mayborn, et al. Dallas, Tex.: Flying Enterprise Publications, 1976. 112 pp. Illus. $14.95 ($13.46), $7.95 ($7.16) paper.
This profusely illustrated technical history covers the Grumman fighters of the 1930s (FF-1, F2F, and F3F); the Duck, Goose, and Widgeon amphibians; the World War II Wildcat; and the experimental Skyrocket and XP-50.
[Jj A History of War at Sea: An atlas and chronology of conflict at sea from earliest times to the present
Helmut Pemsel, Translated by Major i.G.
D.G. Smith. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1977. 176 pp. Illus. Maps. Append.
Bib. Ind. $15.95 ($12.75).
The descriptive subtitle says about all that need be said about this work in the limited space available here, except that it is very well done. The campaign and battle maps, of which there are over 250, are complemented by a series of waterline renderings depicting the evolution of naval vessels. Historians, buffs, and libraries will find it an invaluable reference.
Operation Bismarck Sea
Lawrence Cortesi. Canoga Park, Cal.: Major Books, 1977. 231 pp. Illus. Maps. Bib. Append. $2.25 paper.
In March 1943, the Japanese high command sent a convoy carrying 15,000 crack troops from Rabaul to reinforce New Guinea. Although aware that the convoy s route lay within range of American airfields, the Japanese relied on their own land-based air and a weather front to protect it. Unfortunately for them, neither sufficed and both the convoy and its escorting destroyers were virtually annihilated in a three-day running battle with the bombers of the U.S. Fifth Air Force. The course of the action is related in this novelistic history.
|31 Tirpitz: The Floating Fortress
David Brown. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1977. 160 pp. Illus. Maps. $12.95 ($10.35).
The last surviving major combatant of the German surface fleet in World War II, the battleship Tirpitz remained a significant strategic factor in the war at sea until her
eventual destruction by the RAF in March 1944. Her career is traced in 44 pages of text and 236 photographs, many of which are published for the first time.
Weyers Flotten Taschenbuch: Warships of the World, 1977-78
Gerhard Albrecht, Compiler. Munich: Bernard & Graefe, 1977. 605 pp. Illus. $44.00 ($35.25).
Together witli Jane's Fighting Ships, the Franco-American Combat Fleets, and the Italian Abnanco Navale, Weyers is one of the world’s great naval annuals. Its 54th edition lives up to its usual standards but includes a revolutionary feature: for the first time, the book is completely bilingual in German and English. It retains its traditionally compact and convenient format, and has been, as usual, extensively updated: for example, 300 of 561 photographs and over 200 of some 1,400 plans are new.
The Arctic Diary of Russell Williams Porter
Herman R. Friis, Editor. Charlottesville, Va.: University Press of Virginia, for the National Archives, 1976. 172 pp. Ulus. Maps. Bib. $20.00 ($18.00).
Between 1894 and 1912, Russell Williams Porter, a young M.I.T. graduate bitten by the lure of the north, participated in no fewer than 10 arctic expeditions. In later life, he recorded his experiences in an Arctic Diary, now published for the first time. It is illustrated with his own drawings and watercolors. The editor is Director of the Center for Polar Archives at the National Archives.
BOOK ORDER SERVICE
All prices enclosed by parentheses are member prices. Members may order most books of other publishers through the Naval Institute at a 10% discount off list price. (Prices quoted in this column are subject to change and will be reflected in our billing.) The postage and handling fee for each such special order book of a United States publisher will be $1.00; the fee for a book from a foreign publisher will be $1.50. When air mail or other special handling is requested, actual postage and handling cost will be billed to the member. Books marked [J] are Naval Institute Press Books. Books marked Qare Naval Institute Book Selections. Please use the order blank in this section.
China’s Maritime Agreements
Irwin Millard Heine. Washington, D.C.: Prepared for members of The National Council for US-China Trade, 1977. 69 pp. $20.00 paper.
The growing merchant marine and expanding world trade of the People’s Republic of China make its maritime relations a matter of considerable importance. This report analyzes and presents the full texts of the maritime agreements between the PRC and 14 other nations, including the Federal Republic of Germany, France, and Japan.
The Dhow: An Illustrated History of the Dhow and Its World
Clifford W. Hawkins. Lymington, Hampshire, England: Nautical Publishing, 1977. 144 pp. Illus. Maps. Append. Bib. £ 18.50 (Approx. $35.25) ($31.73).
The dhow (of which your reviewer was surprised to learn there are over 30 distinct types) is a symbol of the seas east of Suez. The ships and the way of life associated with them are described in this splendid, lovingly researched pictorial. As Captain Alan Villiers writes in the introduction, it is "a thoroughly seamanlike, comprehensive, and most interesting book which deserves to become a classic.”
Fishermen: A Community Living from the Sea
Sally Festing. North Pomfret, Vt.: David & Charles, 1977. 206 pp. Bib. Ind. $9.95 ($8.96).
A sensitively written social history investigates the way of life, past and present, >n Norfolk fishing villages.
Five Centuries of Famous Ships: From the Santa Maria to the Glomar Explorer
Robert G. Albion. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1978. 435 pp. Illus. Ind. $19.95 ($17.96).
A total of 162 naval and merchant vessels are treated in what is, in effect, a bio graphical dictionary of famous ships. The author is Emeritus Gardiner Professor o Oceanic History at Harvard University.
Lake Champlain: Key to Liberty
Ralph Nading Hill. Taftsville, Vt.: The Countryman Press, in association with the Burlington Free Press, 1977. 296 pp. IlIus- Maps. Bib. Ind. $14.95 ($13.46).
Its strategic location on what was virtually an invasion thoroughfare between the St. Lawrence, Richelieu, and Hudson Rivers made Lake Champlain a military focal point of the French and Indian Wars, the American Revolution, and the War o 1812. This handsome pictorial chronicles the history of the lake, and the men who fought and sailed on it, from those stirring days through the steamboat era to modern times.
Outcasts of the Sea: Pirates and Piracy
Edward Lucie-Smith. New York & London: Paddington Press, 1978. 256 pp. Illus. Maps- Bib. Ind. $12.95 ($11.66).
Piracy is traced through the ages in an attractive illustrated history. The quality of both the narrative and the illustrations is a notch above the average pictorial.
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