The generic term "history" embraces two distinct forms of the discipline: one is the history written by historians, the analysis that delves into the causes and the consequences of historical events; the other is the history provided by participants. While the historian's history is the more scientific and therefore the more pragmatically useful of the two, it is the participant's account that breathes life into history, that bridges the gap between recorded fact and human emotion. These eyewitness accounts, passed on through letters, diaries, memoirs, and, more recently, oral histories become tools in the hands of historians. But in their purest form they are conversations between peoples of different times. Indeed, they span time and ensure that history belongs not onlyto the scholars but also to the common man, who is, after all, the beneficiary and the victim of its legacy.
Of the 19 books selected as this year's "Notable Naval Books," six are excellent examples of eyewitness history. They give us personalized glimpses of events as recent as the Reagan administration and as long ago as the American Revolution. They differ in subject and in method, but each is an important contribution toward a better understanding of our naval heritage.
John F. Lehman, Jr.'s, Command of the Seas recounts the sometimes controversial and nearly always significant policies and events that evolved during his tenure as the 65th Secretary of the Navy from 1981-87. He describes the rejuvenation of the U. S. Navy with the 600-ship building program and provides insight into his role in the dismissal of Rear Admiral Hyman Rickover as czar of the nuclear navy. Intragovernmental struggles, the continuing evolution of naval policy, and projections for the future course of the U. S. Navy are all revealed through the eyes of the man at the apex during a crucial time in Navy history.
The experience of the Marines in Korea is captured in Hey, Mac, Where Ya Been? Living Memories of the U. S. Marines in the Korean War by Henry Berry. The collected stories of these participants give a diverse view of the war by recounting the experiences of aviators, prisoners of war, staff officers, and the inevitable infantrymen. The book includes the views of officers and enlisted men (as well as baseball players—Boston Red Sox Hall-of-Famer Ted Williams tells his story of flying missions over Korea as a Marine pilot). Anecdotal and authentic, this book helps to flesh out our understanding of this underreported episode in Marine Corps history.
Another personalized glimpse of the Korean War comes from retired Navy Captain Paul R. Schratz in his memoir, Submarine Commander: A Story of World War II and Korea. Captain Schratz, whose combat career began in World War II and continued on through the Cold War and the Korean Conflict, tells his story with candor, humor, and insight. It is an account of wartime patrols (including a mission into the shallow waters of Tokyo Bay to lay a minefield and attack merchant shipping), the disarming of Japanese suicide submarines at war's end, a 1949 record-setting voyage in command of the then-ultra-modern USS Pickerel (SS-524),and a clandestine operation during the Korean War that has only recently been declassified. More than just an entertaining personal hi story, Submarine Commander is an important analysis of the military and political aspects of two wars and a revealing view of some of the significant personalities involved.
Presenting a personalized view of another of the naval services' dimensions, Samuel Hynes's widely acclaimed Flights of Passage takes the reader into the uncertain skies of World War II Marine Corps aviation. These reflective, almost subdued memoirs are powerful not because they flash with the terror and excitement of war, but because they so convincingly convey the contradiction of being a single human being in the panorama of a global conflict. It is an emotive blending of detailed recollections, the story of an 18-year-old gone to war in the final stages of one of the great historic moments. Sam Hynes was a young man in awe of all that was happening but not of himself; he is now a mature writer who has artistically described the tedium and the terror he experienced more than 45 years ago.
A century before the U. S. Navy would be called upon to secure control of the ocean's depths and the skies above in global conflict, it embarked upon the surface of the oceans to conquer by other means. In the Navy's first major exploring enterprise, six ships set sail from Norfolk in August 1838 and circumnavigated the globe, bringing back important new knowledge and greatly enhancing the. Navy's image. Voyage to the Southern Ocean: The Letters of Lieutenant William Reynolds from the U. S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842, edited by Anne Hoffman Cleaver and E. Jeffrey Stann, chronicles the adventures and discoveries of that expedition as revealed through the exuberant letters of a young participant. Written to his sister and mother, Reynolds's letters entertain and inform the modern-day reader with their description of the explorer's trials while surveying the Pacific Islands—including the murder of two of their number by Fiji natives, problems with scarce food supplies, and the terror of nearly losing one of the ships in the Antarctic. The letters provide useful historical insight into the personality of the expedition's controversial commander, Lieutenant Charles Wilkes. All told, this is a view not only of a significant historical event but of an era in nautical history when ships were driven less by man's technology than by his courage and determination.
Also proffering the flavor of life in the age of sail is The Nagle Journal: A Diary of the Life of Jacob Nagle, Sailor, From the Year 1775 to 1841, edited by John C. Dann. Nagle, who served in the American Revolutionary Army and the British Navy and sailed with the East India Company, traveled to five continents and across all the major oceans. He met George Washington and Horatio Nelson and sailed with the First Fleet during the settlement of Australia. John Dann has researched the events recounted in the journal to verify their authenticity and has edited the work to improve its accessibility to the general reader while preserving Nagle's style.
Peter Padfield's Armada vividly recreates another epoch of the age of sail when the Catholic king of Spain attempted to defeat the "infidel" Protestant Queen of England in one of the great sea battles of all time. Marking the 400th anniversary of this turning point in history, Padfield's account delves into the politics that led to the engagement as well as the seamanship, tactics, and armaments employed in the battle itself. He brings the common man into focus by detailing the lives of ordinary seamen and soldiers. The large-format presentation is embellished with detailed illustrations.
In the inexorable evolution of technology, the romantic days of wooden sailing ships of course gave way to the reign of the fossil-fueled ironclads. Marking another turning point in naval history is Teddy Roosevelt's Great White Fleet by James R. Reckner, in which he portrays the 1907-09 world cruise of 16 battleships in a broader context than previous historians have given us. Reckner, a historian and retired naval officer, goes beyond the implications the cruise bore for U. S.-Japanese relations and U. S. defense strategy in the Pacific to place the mission in the much broader scope of world diplomatic and naval developments. Drawing on largely unused material, he convincingly portrays the 14-month expedition as an American rite of passage that placed the U. S. Navy among the ranks of world naval powers. He describes how the cruise heightened world awareness of the Navy while illustrating the service's shortcomings to its own establishment, thereby instigating improvements in both ship design and naval organization. Scholars of both naval and diplomatic history have found this book a notable contribution to the literature of this period.
Even while the battleships of the Great White Fleet were making their historic cruise, their successor as the centerpiece of naval warfare, the aircraft carrier, was already in its embryonic stage. The history of the British contribution to the development of carrier aviation is deftly recorded by Norman Friedman in his British Carrier Aviation: The Evolution of the Ships and Their Aircraft. Integrating the elements of strategy, technology, and design, Friedman traces the history of the Royal Navy's air arm from the seaplane carriers of 1914 to Harrier employment in the Falklands Conflict in 1982. Living up to Friedman's consistently high standards, the incisive narrative is enhanced by the extensive use of photographs and line drawings as well as appendices filled with technical data.
World War II is perhaps the one topic about which naval historians write most consistently year after year. This year two of the notable naval books focus upon World War II. Shedding new light on the epic struggle in the Atlantic, especially the German side of the story, is Dan van der Vat's The Atlantic Campaign: World War II's Great Struggle at Sea. The author has produced a full portrayal of this great strategic struggle by delving deeply into German archives and emerging with a comprehensive account that is both enlightening and compellingly written. M. J. Whitley's Destroyers of World War II: An International Encyclopedia provides a great deal of historical and technical data on the "greyhounds" that saw service in virtually all theaters of World War II. With the comprehensive factual data and more than 480 photographs and line drawings, this book covers all the destroyers that existed or were built during the war.
A more recent work that concerns the modem-day Soviet Navy is The Navy: Its Role, Prospects for Development, and Employment. What makes this work particularly noteworthy is that it was authored by several high-ranking Soviet naval officers and edited by the former head, of the Soviet Navy, the late Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union S. G. Gorshkov. In his foreword, Admiral Gorshkov writes that "in defining their military doctrine, the Soviet Union and its allies…proceed from the need for eliminating war once and for all…" but goes on to warn that "imperialism puts achievements of human genius to work creating weapons of monstrous destructive force." He describes this book as giving "a perspective on pivotal problems of a complex organism such as the navy and on questions of its creation, functioning, and development." While an unclassified work of this nature provides no revelations of truly strategic value, it is nonetheless a useful glimpse into the minds of those who lead the U. S. Navy's chief rival in sea power.
Two of the notable selections for this year exist primarily to entertain (although each is informative and thought-provoking in its own way). The Cardinal of the Kremlin by Tom Clancy and Final Flight by Stephen Coonts are excellent works of fiction by former Naval Institute Press authors. Both novels deal with topics relevant to the challenges facing today's armed forces. Clancy's latest blockbuster deals with the world of SDI (the Strategic Defense Initiative), and Coonts's thriller is centered around a terrorist threat faced by an aircraft carrier. Vice Admiral William E. Ramsey, U. S. Navy, described The Cardinal of the Kremlin in a Proceedings review as "a book that the armed services committees in Congress should read before voting for SDI funding." John Lehman wrote in Proceedings that Final Flight has "a unique power because his [Coonts's] yam is spun of real policy dilemmas, personal crises, and human failings drawn from the current world and worthy of high drama."
No list of notable books would be complete without the titles of the eminent naval reference works: Jane's Fighting Ships, Combat Fleets of the World, Weyer's Warships of the World, and Almanacco Navale have all been revised this year to reflect the ever-changing composition and capabilities of the world's navies. Also of interest to the naval professional is the revised (18th) edition of Knight's Modern Seamanship, edited by retired Navy Captain John V. Noel, Jr. For 83 years this book has been an authoritative reference for professional and novice sailors alike. Captain Noel has updated it by deleting some obsolete material and adding new and revised information in many areas, including oceanography, communications, salvage, channel marking, towing, and shiphandling. The full text of the Inland Navigation Rules of 1980 (required to be on board any vessel greater than 12 meters in length) is included as one of several useful appendices.
Since "Notable Naval Books" made its debut in Proceedings nearly 40 years ago, the selections have consistently included histories, reference works, and treatises on technology and current naval affairs. But in recent years some of the books chosen have gone beyond the relatively small circle of naval professionals and been taken up by the public at large. This year's Command of the Seas by John Lehman and previous years' notables like George Wilson's Super Carrier; The United States Navy: 200 Years by Edward L. Beach; My Father, My Son by retired Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr., and his son; In Love and War by retired Vice Admiral James B. and Sybil Stockdale; and the six "techno-novels" of Clancy and Coonts have all attracted significant attention in the national publishing market. This increased public awareness of matters that once were the realm of a special interest group is of course gratifying, but it also means increased scrutiny from those who are perhaps less informed but also more objective. We of the naval services should welcome this new mirror in which to reflect upon ourselves and our practices.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Having written the "Notable Naval Books" and "Books of Interest" columns for five years, Commander Cutler wrote a notable book of his own this year. Brown Water, Black Berets: Coastal and Riverine Warfare in Vietnam was published in 1988 by the Naval Institute Press and quickly chosen as a Main Selection of the Military Book Club. He was nominated by the Naval Institute and selected by the Navy League as the 1989 recipient of the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award. Commander Cutler is teaching in the history department of the U. S. Naval Academy.
Almanacco Navale. G. Giorgerini and A. Nani, editors. Genoa, Italy: Istituto Idrografico della Marina, 1988. 1,004 pp. Photos. Illus. Append. Ind. Order directly from the publisher at Osservatorio 4, I-16134 Genoa, Italy.
The Atlantic Campaign: World War II's Great Struggle at Sea. Dan van der Vat. Annapolis, MD, and New York: Naval Institute Press and Harper & Row, 1988. 424 pp. Photos. Maps. Append. Bib. Ind. $25.00 ($20.00).
British Carrier Aviation: The Evolution of the Ships and Their Aircraft. Norman Friedman. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1988. 384 pp. Photos. Illus. Notes. Append. Ind. $44.95 ($35.96).
The Cardinal of the Kremlin. Tom Clancy. New York: Putnam's, 1988. 541 pp. $19.95 ($17.95).
Combat Fleets of the World 1988/89: Their Ships, Aircraft, and Armament. Jean LaBayle Couhat, Bernard Prezelin, and A. D. Baker III, editors. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1988. 876 pp. Photos. Illus. Charts. Ind. $96.95 ($77.56).
Command of the Seas: Building the 600 Ship Navy. John F. Lehman, Jr. New York: Scribner's, 1988.464 pp. Photos. Tables. Figs. Append. Notes. Ind. $21.95 ($19.95).
Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. M. J. Whitley. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1988. 320 pp. Photos. mus. Tables. Bib. Ind. $32.95 ($26.36).
Final Flight. Stephen Coonts. New York: Doubleday, 1988. 387 pp. $18.95 ($17.05).
Flights of Passage: Reflections of a World War II Aviator. Samuel Hynes. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1988. 270 pp. $16.95 ($13.56).
Hey, Mac, Where Ya Been? Living Memories of the U. S. Marines in the Korean War. Henry Berry. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988. 330 pp. Photos. Ind. $22.95 ($20.65).
Jane's Fighting Ships 1988-89. Captain Richard Sharpe, Royal Navy (Retired), editor. London: Jane's Publishing, 1988. 832 pp. Photos. Illus. Charts. Ind . $150.00 ($135.00).
Knight's Modern Seamanship, 18th Edition. Captain John V. Noel , Jr., U. S. Navy (Retired), editor, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988. 782 pp. Photos. Illus. Figs. Tables. Append. Ind. $46.95 ($42.25).
The Nagle Journal: A Diary of the Life of Jacob Nagle, Sailor, From the Year 1775 to 1841. John C. Dann, editor. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1988. 402 pp. Illus. Append. Gloss. Notes. Ind. $27.50 ($24.75).
The Navy: Its Role, Prospects for Development, and Employment. Admiral of the Soviet Fleet S. G. Gorshkov, editor. Moscow: Military Publishing House, 1988. 196 pp. Not readily available through commercial sources. Check with a major library for assistance in obtaining a copy.
Submarine Commander. Captain Paul R. Schratz, U. S. Navy (Retired). Lexington, KY and Annapolis, MD: University Press of Kentucky and Naval Institute Press, 1988. 322 pp. Photos. Ind. $24.00 ($19.20).
Teddy Roosevelt's Great White Fleet. James R. Reckner. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1988. 221 pp. Photos. Notes. Ind. $26.95 ($21.56).
Voyage to the Southern Ocean: The Letters of Lieutenant William Reynolds from the U. S. Exploring Expedition 1838-1842. Anne Hoffman Cleaver and E. Jeffrey Stann, editors. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1988. 325 pp. Notes. Append. Bib. Ind. $24.95 ($19.96).
Weyer's Warships of the World 1988/89. Gerhard Albrecht, editor. Baltimore, MD: Nautical and Aviation Publishing, 1988. 853 pp. Photos. Illus. Tables. Ind. $78.95 ($71.05).