Gallimaufry to Suit Every Taste
By NORMAN POLMAR
is an internationally known naval analyst, consultant, and author whose
byline periodically has appeared in Sea Power since July 1959 (the magazine
was then called Navy).
The flow of military-naval
books continues at a prodigious rate. Three of the books reviewed this
year must be considered as especially outstanding contributions to military-naval
literature. All are about aviation; listed alphabetically by author, they
Aviation by Dr. Charles J. Gross, chief of history for the Air National
Guard, is an excellent history. His survey is a balanced account, both
interesting and readable, and particularly valuable for its perspective
on what military aviation promised and what it actually accomplished.
Among the more interesting
events described by Gross is the WWI program by Navy and Marine aviation
to form a "Northern Bombing Group" in Europe to attack German
naval targets on land, in both day and night attacks. Most histories of
the period address only the U.S. Army's plan for massive bomber raids
on German targets under the command of air-power zealot Billy Mitchell.
Again, this fine history provides a balanced perspective on "military"
Air Warfare in the
Missile Age by Lon O. Nordeen Jr. is an expansion and update of the earlier
edition, published in 1985. Beginning with the air war over Vietnam (although
the first air-to-air missiles used in combat were Sidewinders fired by
Taiwanese F-86F Sabres in 1958), Nordeen takes his account up to the Kosovo
conflict. This valuable work addresses the aircraft, tactics, and strategy
of air warfare. Particularly useful are his accounts of the Indo-Pakistan,
Middle East, and Falklands conflicts from an air-warfare perspective.
book suffers from an excess of repetition (the reader is told more than
20 times that the NATO name for the Soviet S-75 missile is the SA-2 Guideline),
several errors in the naval aircraft discussions, and an inadequate glossary
and unhelpful index. Still, the book should be considered important reading
for all interested in modern air warfare.
Sunburst by Mark
R. Peattie is a landmark English-language study of the rise of Japanese
naval air power from 1909 to 1941. The Japanese naval air arm, built with
the help of British advisors, differed from British and U.S. naval aviation
by developing land-based as well as carrier-based strike arms. The effectiveness
of that approach was demonstrated both at Pearl Harbor and, three days
later, by the destruction at sea of the British capital ships Repulse
and Prince of Wales.
Peattie has laid out the development, organization, weapons, and politics
of the air arm that reigned supreme in the Pacific until June 1942. Japan's
success was based in part upon the world's most arduous pilot selection
and training process. But the same system sowed the seeds for defeat when,
coupled with Japan's severely limited industrial capacity, the Japanese
Navy was unable to replace the huge pilot, aircraft, and carrier losses
of 1942 and 1943.
Despite the voluminous
detail and some difficult translations in Peattie's work, his book is
readable, interesting, and essential to an understanding of World War
II in the Pacific.
is an excellent memoir--well-written, informative, and candid. Wesley
Fox served in the Corps for 43 years, from private to colonel, fought
in both Korea and Vietnam, and was awarded the Medal of Honor. Particularly
lucid are his descriptions of combat, but this reviewer found his tales
of jump school and of escape and evasion during POW training--when he
was not supposed to escape and evade--equally worthwhile. His book could
serve as a model of how to write a meaningful memoir.
stories are told in The Marine, by Ben Wofford and William Richard White.
The latter was a Marine who landed on Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942. His
story is a graphic, well-written account of a Marine private, often under
enemy fire, and living in conditions of extreme privation:
be frowned upon by a lot of people in years to come, but in 1942, cigarettes
were a big (and pleasant) part of daily life. On Guadalcanal, they took
the edge off the unbearable. White also points out that there is no substitute
for toothpaste, soap, and razor blades. When your supply is gone, you
realize just how shabby life can be. That said, a cold drink would have
topped anyone's wish list. Almost anything would do, just so long as it
The other story, interspersed with White's account of Guadalcanal, is
Dr. Wofford's report on White's losing battle with cancer in 1997--a poignant
narrative, but combining it with the story of White's five months on Guadalcanal
is awkward and detracts from that story. It would have been far better
to have made White's final battle a last chapter.
Above and Beyond
by Barrett Tillman, a renowned aviation writer, is the story of "aviation
Medals of Honor"--the airmen who received the nation's highest military
decoration. Tillman's fascinating accounts are based on meticulous research
that uncovered a number of significant errors in the award citations,
including: a Medal of Honor citation "written by committee during
a 'lost weekend'; a medal offered to avert court martial of a favored
subordinate; two or more awards to fallen comrades who probably performed
none of the feats ascribed to them." At least three medals were presented--in
clear violation of the criteria--for nwitnessed events.
The men cited include
both the well known and others relatively obscure. An estimated 3,437
Americans had received the Medal of Honor through 2001; of those, 91 were
awarded for in-flight heroism and, of that number, 13 went to Navy fliers
and 14 to Marines.
Jimmy Flatley and
John S. (Jimmy) Thach were the top U.S. fighter tacticians of the Pacific
War. Steve Ewing's biography of Flatley--Reaper Leader--is an excellent
work, and provides fascinating insights into this astute and skilled naval
aviator's career from Naval Academy midshipman to rear admiral.
Along the way, Ewing
effectively tells about the men Flatley worked with and the battles in
which he fought. Indeed, the only criticism of this important work are
the author's numerous "excursions"--e.g., his discussion of
Captain Miles Browning, an officer unrelated to Flatley's career. Ewing,
a college professor and author, is senior curator of the naval museum
complex in Charleston Harbor, S.C., that is the final "homeport"
of the carrier Yorktown, a key ship in Flatley's wartime service.
On 17 January 1991,
in a later war, F/A-18 Hornet pilot Michael Scott Speicher was shot down
over Iraq. Amy Waters Yarsinske, a former Navy intelligence officer, tells
the story of that shoot-down--so far as it is known--in No One Left Behind.
She contends that Speicher survived the ejection from his damaged aircraft
and eventually was captured alive by the Iraqis. The U.S. Navy, after
initially declaring him killed in action, later changed his status to
missing and, in October 2002, Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England
declared him "missing in action, captured."
goes into considerable detail on how the aircraft wreckage, ejection seat,
and parts of Speicher's personal gear were found, and speculates on what
could have happened to him. Unfortunately, her theories are marred by
an overstatement of the obvious, a paucity of footnotes, an error-filled
glossary, and the lack of an index.
The First, The Few,
The Forgotten is an exceptional account of the women who served as sailors
and Marines during World War I. Well-written by Jean Ebbert and Marie-Beth
Hall, two women with strong Navy ties, the story begins with Secretary
of the Navy Josephus Daniels authorizing women to enlist in the Naval
Coast Defense Reserve Force.
Daniels, most often
remembered for abolishing booze in the U.S. Navy, wanted women in the
Navy to make more male sailors available to man the massive number of
ships being built. Most Navy women served as "yeomanettes,"
but some served in nonclerical billets. (Daniels also approved the enrollment
of women in the Marine Corps, where virtually all of them served in clerical
The First addresses
all aspects of the story, from recruiting and uniforms to jobs and recreation,
to the women's release from active duty and their postservice lives and
Susan H. Godson's
Serving Proudly is an official history of women in the U.S. Navy written
under the auspices of the Naval Historical Center. It begins with the
oft-told tales of women aboard sailing warships, and takes the reader
up to the decisions in the 1990s to allow women to serve in combat billets.
The book is comprehensive, but sterile, carefully avoiding most of the
controversies about women in U.S. naval service--e.g., Naval Academy dropout
rates, unmarried pregnancies, "dating" problems aboard ship,
and other issues that are a vital part of the full story. One problem
that is addressed, though, is male harassment of females.
For an official
Navy project, there are some surprising errors in the book. Two examples:
Adm. Nimitz did not command the Bureau of Personnel in 1941 (the Bureau
of Naval Personnel was established in October 1942), and Marine pilots
are naval aviators.
was a merchant marine officer whose ship was sunk by a German merchant
raider in the Indian Ocean on 29 November 1942. He and 38 other merchant
mariners and U.S. Navy personnel were taken prisoner and ultimately delivered
to the notorious Changi prison camp in Singapore (made famous in James
Clavell's novel King Rat). Willner and many of his colleagues were then
forced to work on the infamous Burma-Siam railway.
account, and those of other POWs, Gerald Reminick has written an interesting
story of Willner's life as a Japanese prisoner in Death's Railway, illustrated
with photos, maps, and prisoners' sketches. After the war Willner was
a leading advocate in the effort to have merchant seamen recognized as
WWII veterans, a battle that was won in 1988.
Although not always
smooth reading, this book is highly recommended.
scientist, combat surgeon, and historian--has written a fascinating book
in Medicine Under Sail, from the Trojan Wars through the War of 1812.
Friedenberg tells about diseases and injuries that affected mariners and
the surgeons, barber-surgeons, loblolly boys (surgeon assistants), and
the itinerant quacks who treated them.
The book, which
is well-documented, covers both successes (Captain Cook lost but one man
to sickness during his three-year circumnavigation of the world) and failures
(some ships lost their entire crews to sickness). The author's sidebar
excursions are generally interesting--e.g., sickness among the slaves
being transported--but his discussion of the development of lifeboats
is too far afield.
Among the naval
biographies recently published, The Autobiography of a Yankee Mariner
by Christopher Prince, as edited by Michael Crawford, provides an interesting
look at the American Revolution. Prince served in several ranks and billets
in British as well as American ships. His autobiography--ably assisted
by an introduction, commentaries, and notes by Crawford, a historian with
the U.S. Naval Historical Center--makes good reading.
George Buker's The
Penobscot Expedition, primarily a biography of the hapless Commodore Dudley
Saltonstall, tells of one of the worst naval disasters in American history
up to Pearl Harbor. The 1779 defeat of an American squadron by the British
left Saltonstall accused of being a coward.
"He was a competent
naval officer," is author Buker's own judgment of Saltonstall, who
was called before a court-martial. As often occurs in war, though, the
"fates" were against him and the enemy was a competent one.
Buker, a retired naval officer and former history professor, provides
a definitive book on this significant but little-known action in American
A highly competent
early U.S. naval officer was Capt. John Percival. In Mad Jack Percival,
novice author James Ellis has captured the persona of Percival. Serving
in the American merchant ships as well as naval ships--including British
warships (after being impressed)--Percival became one of the more notable
young warriors of the War of 1812. His last command was the USS Constitution,
which he sailed around the world in 18441846.
Robert S. (Stan)
Norris, a leading historian of nuclear issues, has produced the definitive
biography of General Leslie R. Groves, head of the U.S. atomic bomb project,
in Racing for the Bomb. This well-written and comprehensive tome tells
of the Navy's close involvement with the Manhattan Project as well and
provides an insightful look at Groves--the "indispensable man."
The latest book
about film stars and the military by retired Navy Capt. James E. Wise
is International Film Stars at War, written with author Scott Baron. In
this volume the military and film careers of 45 foreign stars--from Britain's
Richard Attenborough to Germany's Oskar Werner--are described. Attenborough
was taken out of RAF pilot training and assigned to the RAF film unit;
Werner served in an artillery unit, but instead of combat was assigned
to garrison duty and was thus able to continue his stage performances
in Vienna--but after two weeks of officer school he was declared "unsuitable
for such training." This is another fascinating book from Wise.
Eliot A. Cohen,
one of the leading U.S. defense analysts, has written a fascinating study
in Supreme Command. He concludes that national leaders who involve themselves
in the management of war--not just in setting policy--win wars. His principal
examples are America's Abraham Lincoln, France's Georges Clemenceau, Britain's
Winston Churchill, and Israel's David Ben-Gurion. This is an interesting,
fascinating, and well-written book.
one hearing Cohen's thesis, "the great exceptions" also come
to mind--Lyndon Johnson, for example. Cohen also addresses those leaders.
The Israeli attack on the U.S. intelligence collection ship Liberty in
June 1967 created the greatest crisis in the 52-year relationship between
Israel and the United States. In The Liberty Incident, Federal Judge A.
Jay Cristol provides the most comprehensive account likely to be written.
His research for the book included discussions with Israelis who held
senior positions at the time, including Itzhak Rabin, who was chief of
staff, and the pilots of Israeli aircraft and the commanders of the Israeli
MTBs that attacked the Liberty. He also spoke with senior U.S. officials,
including Admiral Isaac Kidd, who led the Navy's court of inquiry into
the attack, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, and senior officers
of the U.S. Sixth Fleet as well as the Hebrew linguists in the U.S. Navy
EC-121 aircraft that was overflying the Liberty at the time of the incident
and recorded the Israeli radio transmissions.
Much of his material
directly contradicts previous books, especially those of Liberty survivor
James Ennes and intelligence writer James Bamford. Cristol's own conclusion
is that the attack on the Liberty was unquestionably a tragic accident.
Cristol is a former U.S. Navy carrier pilot and a former JAG officer (who
retired as a Navy Reserve captain); he also holds a PhD in history.
Muammar al-Qaddafi was a principal antagonist of the United States during
the 1980s. After he was linked to several acts of terrorism, President
Ronald Reagan ordered strikes against key Libyan facilities. Joseph Stanik's
El Dorado Canyon provides a well-written, detailed description of the
U.S. air attacks. A scholar and former naval officer, Stanik had earlier
produced a monograph, Swift and Effective Retribution (1996), for the
Naval Historical Center.
In this comprehensive
work, Stanik provides background on Libya and the history of U.S. relations
with the area--both good and bad--as well as the account of the two strikes
by U.S. Navy, Marine, and Air Force planes. He dispels the contention
that Air Force participation was strictly political, to let that service
"play" in the only game going at the time.
With the increasing
interest in China as the U.S. military services seek to identify future
antagonists, A Military History of China, edited by David A. Graff and
Robin Higham, provides a superior background study. Although only some
70 pages of the 302 pages of text address the communist era, those pages
make this a worthwhile read. The earlier periods are important to an understanding
of this "potential enemy," especially the chapter on the Sino-Japanese
conflict (19311945) by Stephen MacKinnon. This is a most useful volume.
Chinese Grand Strategy
and Maritime Power by Thomas M. Kane, who teaches international politics
at the University of Hull, takes a broader look at the implications of
China as a naval power. "China's maritime ideas are grand, but China's
navy is primitive," he astutely observes. "However, the fact
that China's navy remains materially weak does not mean that it is strategically
Much of Kane's work
addresses technology and politics, which are significant topics, but only
indirectly related to Chinese maritime power.
The Cold War was largely a nuclear confrontation between the United States
and the Soviet Union. Two books have appeared in the West that provide
details about the Soviet nuclear arms buildup, and include considerable
information published for the first time in English.
Nuclear Forces, edited by Pavel Podvig, is a compilation of chapters written
by Russian nuclear weapon experts. It provides a comprehensive picture
of the Soviet efforts in this field during the Cold War. The 103-page
chapter Naval Strategic Nuclear Forces is invaluable. Written by Dr. Eugene
Miasnikov and the late Dr. Maxim Tarasenko, it takes the reader through
the history of Soviet strategic missile submarines--both cruise missile
and ballistic--and provides technical and operational descriptions of
the missile-launching submarines and their strategic weapons. Of particular
interest are the chapter's sections on the structure, command and control,
and support of strategic naval forces.
The leading Western
expert on Soviet missiles, Steven J. Zaloga, addresses Soviet strategic
nuclear forces in The Kremlin's Nuclear Sword. Zaloga provides more of
an overview than Podvig does of Soviet weapons development, and makes
useful comparisons with competitive U.S. strategic weapons. There are
ample details of the Soviet weapons in this highly readable book.
The Cuban Missile
Crisis of 1962 brought the world the closest it has ever been to nuclear
war. Former U.S. naval intelligence officer Peter A. Huchthausen's October
Fury is about the four Soviet Foxtrot diesel submarines, armed with nuclear
torpedoes, that were in the Caribbean area at the time. This is an important
story, but professionals will be put off by the author's style, repetition,
technical errors, lack of notes (14 for the entire book), and the amount
of space Huchthausen uses to tell about his exciting life as a junior
officer in a destroyer in 1962.
The only operational
cooperation between Germany and Japan during World War II was in submarine
activities in the Indian Ocean. In Reluctant Allies, a team of German
and Japanese naval officers and historians led by Hans-Joachim Krug looks
at this cooperation and the grand strategy followed by the Axis nations
during the war. This is a fascinating story, told in detail, of grand
goals and grand failures, the latter mostly because of distrust among
allies. The Krug book is difficult to follow in some places, however,
because of the differing styles used by the multiple authors. The book
also slights the significance of the American and British knowledge of
Axis discussions by being able to decrypt Japanese diplomatic communications.
Jack Coombe's Gunsmoke
Over the Atlantic tells of the American Civil War at sea. The fast-paced
narrative describes the historic Monitor-vs.-Virginia (neé Merrimack)
battle, the Union blockade of southern ports, amphibious landings, and
the chases of Confederate blockade runners. Unfortunately, Coombe's work
is spoiled by a number of errors, the improper use of naval terminology,
and repetition (e.g., readers are told of the "dreaded" Virginia
three times in two pages).
SURFACE SHIPS AND SUBMARINES
U.S. Amphibious Ships and Craft is the latest volume in the well-illustrated
ship design series published by the Naval Institute. The coverage begins
with the quest for transports between the World Wars, and continues through
the current amphibious ship and craft procurement programs. The book is
heavily illustrated with photos and ship plans executed by A.D. Baker
III. As interesting as the ships built are the many designs that never
reached fruition, which also are described in this volume.
Death of the USS
Thresher, by the author of this review, is an update and expansion of
the 1964 book that examined the first loss of a U.S. nuclear submarine.
One hundred twenty-nine men died after a reactor scram (shutdown) started
a series of events that led to the disaster. The Thresher was the U.S.
Navy's most advanced submarine at the time.
Run Silent, by Philip
Kaplan, a British publications art director, is a 240-page volume about
the world's submarines. The book is unstructured, though, confusing in
places, and filled with errors. There are six consecutive text pages about
the Kursk, more than about submarines that were far more significant (e.g.,
the Nautilus, Albacore, or Alfa--which is not mentioned at all). The question
must be asked: Why was this book published?
Fire on the Hangar
Deck, by Wynn Foster, a retired Navy captain and naval aviator, is a superior
account of the Oriskany tragedy, which was initiated by two sailors stacking
flares in a hangar. Forty-four men died because of a combination of carelessness,
a lack of adequate training, and improper supervision.
Journalist Gregory Freeman tells the story of the Forrestal fire in Sailors
to the End. That disaster ostensively began when a missile on an aircraft
blasted across the flight deck and struck the fuel tank under an A-4 Skyhawk.
The pilot of the aircraft was John McCain, now a U.S. Senator. The ensuing
fires and bomb detonations racked the carrier, killing 134 men and threatening
the survival of the ship. Freeman's account is riveting, but he attempts
to make the case that "old" bombs--possibly from the 1930s--were
the real cause of the disaster. That thesis seems questionable. Newer
bombs, which may have taken a few minutes longer before they "cooked
off," probably would have been just as deadly given the conditions
on the Forrestal's flight deck that fateful day. The real cause of the
tragedy seems to have been the shortcuts taken in arming aircraft in an
effort to speed up the launch cycle.
Foster's book is
highly readable and technically accurate; Freeman's book--based mostly
on interviews--is a more difficult read and contains numerous technical
HMS Hood was the
"pride of the Royal Navy." Andrew Norman has captured the great
ship's essence in a small book of that name, based mainly on interviews
with one of the three survivors of the Hood's sinking, official reports,
recollections of men who earlier had served in the battle cruiser, and
other original documents. The Hood, completed in 1920, was hailed at the
time as the world's "largest, heaviest, and fastest warship."
During a seven-minute encounter with the German battleship Bismarck (which
was not a "pocket battleship," Mr. Norman) and a heavy cruiser
on 24 May 1941, the Hood blew up, killing 1,418 men.
Norman's description of the life and death of the ship is interesting,
as is his speculation on what killed her. His book includes many useful
drawings and a large number of photos.
During World War
II the Germans built 23 massive and well-protected "submarine pens"
(not all of them completed) along the coasts of France, Norway, and Germany.
These huge concrete and steel structures, largely impervious to Allied
bombing, provided safe harbor to the U-boats in port. Jak P. Mallmann
Showell, who has emerged as the leading contemporary writer on U-boats,
has produced a commendable and particularly well-illustrated study of
those facilities in Hitler's U-Boat Bases.
But the author glosses
over the use of "foreign" labor in the construction of the U-boat
pens, referring instead to British and Russian POW "volunteers"
and pointing out how the latter had special medical facilities set up
for them. This aspect of the book, albeit brief, suggests that the German
and Allied labor practices were comparable in nature. The author's rationalization
is obvious and makes one want to know more about who built Hitler's U-boat
U-boat aficionado Lawrence Paterson provides a detailed history of Germany's
First U-Boat Flotilla that is both well-written and meticulous in its
coverage. That flotilla's history began in 1935 when the Third Reich commissioned
its first U-boats, and ended with many of the surviving flotilla officers
and sailors fighting against American troops during the battle for the
French port of Brest in the fall of 1944. The book is strictly chronological,
by the major events as they occurred. The index is mostly helpful, but
it does not list any of the many Allied sailors and airmen named in the
Verschollen--German for "missing" or "presumed dead"--is
a valuable account of the 203 operational German U-boats sunk in World
War I. The author provides comprehensive descriptions of the losses, including
excerpts from survivor reports. Strangely, though, Messimer does not describe
the several school boats lost while on training operations.
The fight between
the Virginia and Monitor at Hampton Roads in 1862 was the first battle
of armored warships. In Confederate Phoenix, naval historians R. Thomas
Campbell and Alan B. Flanders provide an excellent history of the USS
Merrimack--which, after being burned in 1861, was salvaged, rebuilt as
the ironclad Virginia, and fought in epic battle with the Union Monitor.
The fight between the two ships was inconclusive, although the Virginia
suffered major damage. Reportedly, President Lincoln himself prevented
the Monitor from again engaging the Confederate warship, and she was prematurely
blown up to prevent her capture.
and well-written, the book suffers only from the authors' bias in favor
of describing the Merrimack's machinery in great detail while providing
little information about her armament.
Lost Subs tells about submarine losses and the discovery of their hulks,
from the Hunley of the American Civil War to the Russian Kursk. The book
includes an abundance of illustrations--photos, paintings, diagrams, and
underwater photography. Unfortunately, the author often goes too far afield--e.g.,
in his discussions of the U-boat campaigns of World War I and II--while
ignoring important submarine losses. Numerous factual errors also detract
from the book.
The latest edition of Combat Fleets of the World came off the press in
mid-2002, a remarkable work eminently respected for its breadth and depth
of coverage of the navies of the world. Its level of detail far exceeds
that of any other naval reference work, and the author's commentary is
both perceptive and cogent. egrettably, this is the last edition to be
edited by A.D. Baker III, who has headed the effort since 1977. The only
significant criticism of his latest tome is the sometimes unsatisfactory
quality of photo reproduction.
The British annual
Warship marked its 25th anniversary with the 2001-2002 edition. This first-class
compendium of articles on the world's warships has something of interest
for virtually every reader. Of particular note in this edition are an
analysis by warship designer David K. Brown of why British mines were
ineffective at the start of World War I, a study, by Pierre Hervieux of
the Romanian Navy's 1941-1944 operations in the Black Sea, and a detailed
history of Britain's Blackwood-class frigates, a product of the Cold War,
by George Moore.
The USS Constellation
is one of the most interesting warships in American history--both the
frigate built in 1797 and the sloop of war that dates to 1853. Geoffrey
Footner, a former shipping executive, Chesapeake Bay sailor, and author,
has written a superb biography--USS Constellation: From Frigate to Sloop
of War--of that famous ship. His painstaking research--evident in 75 pages
of notes--and the resulting details have produced a definitive work on
the ship, including new insights on the contention over whether or not
the ship now at rest in Baltimore, Md., is the original frigate.
AIR AND SPACE
One of the most
significant figures in American aviation history was Jerome C. Hunsaker,
a Naval Academy graduate and naval officer. Among his many aircraft designs
was that for the Navy's NC-4, the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic.
Hunsaker's numerous contributions to aeronautics also included establishing
the U.S. Navy's aircraft design organization and the aeronautical engineering
program at MIT.
a prominent aviation historian and author, has produced a comprehensive
biography of Hunsaker in Jerome C. Hunsaker and the Rise of American Aeronautics.
Trimble provides a scholarly and readable tribute to this important man.
AWACS and Hawkeyes is subtitled The Complete History of Airborne Early
Warning Aircraft. The book is comprehensive if not complete as it traces
in detail the development of this major platform. The author takes the
reader from Adm. E.J. King's 1942 desire to pass information between distant
ships through the Kosovo campaign. Although the author's final chapter
looks toward the future, he does not give proper attention to the potential
for unmanned vehicles in the Airborne Early Warning (AEW) role.
Of greater importance,
the book cannot be recommended without several cautions: there are several
major errors (e.g., the AF-2W Guardian was not an AEW aircraft), too much
repetition, some important omissions (the Soviet Bear-D and Hormone-B,
while not AEW aircraft, certainly demonstrated that the Soviets could
put large radars in naval aircraft), errors in the glossary as well, and
a confusing index.
from damaged aircraft make a fascinating and important subject. In Eject!,
veteran aviation engineer Jim Tuttle discusses parachutes, ejection seats,
and jettisonable noses of aircraft from the earliest days of aviation
to the F/A-18 Hornet and B-2 Spirit. His book provides a detailed look
at numerous systems and ejections. But a miserable index and poor organization,
the lack of dates, and of some first names, detract from this work. (Was
"Schenk," who made the first use of an ejection seat in bailing
out of an He 280 in the "early 1940s," the same man as Maj.
Wolfgang Schenk, who commanded an Me 262 jet fighter unit?)
Air Force One is
the designation of any aircraft carrying the President of the United States.
In his book of that name, aviation writer Robert E. Dorr provides a well-written
and well-illustrated history of the aircraft (including Army and Marine
Corps helicopters) used by U.S. presidents. Interestingly, the first aircraft
assigned to presidential duty was a Navy RD-2 Dolphin, but President Franklin
D. Roosevelt--the first chief executive to fly while in office--never
Two points stopped this reviewer: A photo of President Eisenhower and
his wife, Mamie, waving from their Super Constellation, includes an unidentified
"soldier" looking on--could it be British Field Marshal Bernard
Law Montgomery? Also, Dorr cites the September 1957 flight by Eisenhower
in a Marine HUS-1 Seahorse as the first presidential helicopter flight.
But there are references in other documents to a flight from Gettysburg
to Washington that Eisenhower took in an Army helicopter during the Suez
crisis of November 1956.
and up-to-date, Dorr's book is highly recommended.
Vietnam Air Losses,
by Chris Hobson, provides a detailed description of each U.S. Air Force,
Navy, and Marine Corps fixed-wing aircraft loss in Southeast Asia during
the Vietnam War period. Aircraft serial numbers and details of casualties
are provided as well as the cause of the loss. This is a valuable reference
work. Perhaps, at some future date, Hobson could produce a similar directory
of rotary-wing aircraft losses.
The Osprey organization
continues to produce outstanding monographs. Two recent books are especially
relevant to naval enthusiasts: István Toperczer's MiG-21 Units
of the Vietnam War provides a different view of the Vietnam air war that
emphasizes the MiG-21 fighter and covers such areas as training, tactics,
maintenance, and airfields. In Gloster Gladiator Aces, Andrew Thomas tells
all about Britain's biplane carrier-based fighter at the start of World
War II. Both books feature excellent color and black-and-white illustrations
as well as valuable appendixes.
To Reach the High
Frontier, edited by Roger D. Launius and Dennis R. Jenkins, is a technical
history of U.S. "launch vehicles." Navy efforts, especially
Polaris, the first U.S. solid-propellant ballistic missile, are covered.
Finally, the outstanding and exceptionally well-illustrated
At the Controls provides unique and detailed views of the control panels
of numerous aircraft in the National Air and Space Museum collection.
With photography by Eric F. Long and Mark A. Avino, and text by Tom Alison
and Dana Bell, the book's naval aircraft include the OS2U Kingfisher,
the FM Wildcat, and the M6A1 Seiran, a Japanese floatplane bomber. The
control panels of such famous aircraft as the Spirit of St. Louis, the
Il-2 Shturmovik, the B-29 Enola Gay, the SR-71 Blackbird, and the Me 262
(the world's first operational jet fighter) also are included.
SPIES AND SPOOKS
probably the leading U.S. writer in the intelligence field, has produced,
in The Wizards of Langley, an important study of U.S. technical intelligence
during the Cold War. Many CIA projects and operations are described here
for the first time. Richelson also details many service activities--e.g.,
the P2V Neptunes flown by the Air Force as RB-69s, and the mission of
the U-2 spyplane launched from the carrier USS Ranger in the Pacific.
For two years in
the 1960s John A. Fahey, a U.S. Navy officer wearing a U.S. Army uniform,
openly spied in East Germany with the full knowledge of Soviet and East
German officials. A member of the U.S. Military Liaison Mission to the
Soviet forces in East Germany at the time, Fahey uses an incident in 1961,
a week before the Berlin Wall went up, to explain, in his well-written
Licensed to Spy, how his "spy license" worked. He was making
a routine tour when East German border guards stopped his vehicle and
accused him of spying. Unfazed, Fahey shouted in Russian, "Out of
the way for a member of the Soviet Army!" His "reconnaissance,"
as he tactfully called it, had its dangerous moments---an occasional high-speed
car chase and various encounters with trigger-happy East German secret
policemen. But most of the time he just made his rounds, an American watchman
behind enemy lines.
In Stealing Secrets,
Telling Lies, James Gannon, an award-wining TV producer and journalist,
provides a useful survey of how spies and codebreakers "helped shape"
the 20th century. There is little new here, but his book is well-written
and certainly has a niche.
march of spies continues at a rapid pace, and while Gannon discusses the
spy game up to the Aldrich Ames case, there have been several more Americans
since then who have sold out to the other side. This reviewer found a
few omissions, especially regarding the "handlers," such as
Alexander Feklisov (a.k.a. "Fromin"), who handled the Rosenbergs,
was a key player in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, and has written
an autobiography, The Man Behind the Rosenbergs (2001), as have other
Soviets who were involved with espionage in the United States but are
not mentioned by Gannon.
When Newsweek bureau
chief in Moscow, Bill Powell befriended a Soviet military intelligence
(GRU) officer who had been recruited by the CIA in the late 1980s, but
was soon compromised and imprisoned. The officer, who provided little
to the Americans, apparently was compromised by Robert Hanssen at the
FBI. Powell's relatively short book about the incident, Treason: How a
Russian Spy Led an American Journalist to a U.S. Double Agent, while well-written,
adds little to the literature of espionage.
as well as naval intelligence is generally considered to have performed
very poorly in World War II. In The Shadow Warriors of Nakano, a history
of the Japanese Army's "elite" intelligence school, former CIA
analyst Stephen Mercado attempts to change that view.
The Nakano school,
established in 1938, trained more than 2,000 Army officers. Mercado describes
their activities during World War II but fails to cite any that had a
major impact on the outcome of the war. Indeed, some of the "accomplishments"
that he mentions are not correct; for example, Nakano graduate Abe Naoyoshi
could not have seen the British capital ships Prince of Wales and Repulse
at Bombay because they did not stop there en route to the Far East--and
to their destruction by Japanese naval aircraft.
Perhaps the most
interesting and useful portion of the book are the last 110 pages, in
which Mercado discusses the end of the war, the fate of Nakano officers
(especially those captured by the Soviets), and the immediate postwar
U.S. Army 1st Lt.
Ted W. Lawson flew a twin-engine B-25 Mitchell from the deck of the carrier
Hornet in the famed Doolittle raid of April 1942. His 1943 classic Thirty
Seconds Over Tokyo has now been reprinted, as the first volume in an "aviation
classics" series from Brassey's. Additional photos have been added
to this momentous work.
Parkin's Blood on the Sea tells the stories of the 71 U.S. destroyers
sunk in World War II--more than any other type of warship. Originally
published in 1995, the book provides detailed descriptions of the loss
of those versatile and hard-fighting ships as well as the 11 destroyer
escorts that also were lost. Unfortunately, the book's editing leaves
much to be desired.
Ships for Victory,
by Frederic C. Lane, is an important history of the 5,777 cargo ships,
LSTs, escort carriers, and other ships built in commercial yards under
the aegis of the U.S. Maritime Commission in World War II. This 1951 volume
provides invaluable data on the subject and--in certain parts, at least--is
a "good read." The section on Negroes and women in the work
force is particularly illuminating on those subjects.
in the Naval Institute's Classics of Naval Literature series, is The Voyage
of the Deutschland, by Paul König, who commanded that merchant submarine
on her two trips to the United States in World War I. This is a propaganda
tract, but still an interesting and important work. König's Fahrten
der U-Deutschland im Weltkrieg, published in Berlin in 1916, differed
considerably from The Voyage of the Deutschland, published the same year
in the United States.
Dwight Messimer's introduction to the reprint provides a valuable perspective
on the submarine project. (Messimer wrote The Merchant U-Boat ,
a valuable study on that subject.)
back in print is William Robinson's Jack Nastyface, the memoirs of an
English seaman in the age of Nelson. This brief view of the lower deck
is an outstanding read as well as a candid glimpse of the inequities of
Reynolds's Famous American Admirals also is back in print. Originally
published in 1978, it provides brief biographies of more than 200 U.S.
flag officers. The reprint includes some minimal updates (mostly, the
deaths of several officers). The question must be asked: Have any additional
notable admirals emerged in the past 25 years who should be included in
a more comprehensive update?
A large number of
novels on naval subjects have appeared in the past year, most of them
written by first-time authors. Readers who follow the prolific and talented
writings of Vice Adm. William P. Mack will be pleased to know that Commodore
Kilburnie is now available. Mack's seafaring Scot is again at sea, in
command of a small squadron, and fighting to defeat the forces of Napoleon.
of the Navy James Webb, who served in Vietnam as a Marine junior officer
and has returned to that country several times, has produced another novel--Lost
Soldiers. This time he has a Marine veteran in-country seeking the remains
of dead Americans. His "find" leads him to discover--and eventually
solve--the mystery of what happened to the Americans who led the Viet
Cong ambushes of U.S. troops. Webb's writing and plot both get top marks.
The U.S. Naval and Marine Corps Historical Centers continue to produce
excellent softcover monographs addressing important actions and issues.
All of those listed here relate to the Korean War.
NAVY: Thomas B.
Buell, Naval Leadership in Korea: The First Six Months (2002), 50 pages.
MARINE CORPS: Ronald
J. Brown, Counteroffensive: U.S. Marines from Pohang to No Name Line (2001),
68 pages; Allan R. Millett, Drive North: U.S. Marines at the Punchbowl
(2001), 64 pages; Bernard C. Nalty, Stalemate: U.S. Marines from Bunker
Hill to the Hook (2001), 48 pages; and Edwin H. Simmons, Frozen Chosin:
U.S. Marines at the Changjin Reservoir (2002), 132 pages.
Jack Sweetman of
the Naval Academy's history department has produced a third edition of
his American Naval History, an exceptionally useful chronology of the
Navy and Marine Corps. The new edition takes the chronology up to 28 February
2002--the date of the second U.S.-British air strike last year against
Iraqi air defenses.
of events and concise entries--coupled with well-selected illustrations,
maps, and indexes--makes this a valuable reference work. One hopes, though,
that in future editions he can add some ship identifications now missing.
For example, on 21 June 1942, he reports "a Japanese submarine"
shelling Fort Stevens, Ore.; the submarine was the I-25, which subsequently
launched two floatplane bombing raids against the United States--the floatplane
raids also are not mentioned in the book.
Manual is a basic reference book intended for issue to all enlisted men
and women entering the Navy. Last year's Centennial Edition--published
100 years after Lt. Ridley McLean's original Bluejacket's Manual,--encompasses
subjects from Naval Missions and Heritage through health, fitness, and
first aid. The Navy's missions have changed dramatically, though, under
the Chief of Naval Operations' new Sea Power 21 concept, invalidating
the already confusing discussion in the book.
Also, and unfortunately
for the new sailor, the book's descriptions of the Marine Corps and of
shipboard organization, and the data on many ships and aircraft, are significantly
out of date. This is regrettable in a book that reminds the reader that
"it is vital that information be kept as accurate as possible."
THE VITAL STATISTICS
alphabetically by author, is additional information on the books listed
in the preceding bibliographic essay. Members of the U.S. Naval Institute
receive a discount on publications of the USNI Press.
Edwin Leigh Armistead.
AWACS and Hawkeyes: The Complete History of Airborne Early Warning Aircraft.
St. Paul, Minn.: MBI Publishing, 2002. 223 pages. $24.95.
A.D. Baker III.
Combat Fleets of the World, 2002-2003. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute
Press, 2002. 1,142 pages. $195.00.
George E. Buker. The Penobscot Expedition: Commodore Saltonstall and the
Massachusetts Conspiracy of 1779. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press,
2002. 212 pages. $32.95.
R. Thomas Campbell
and Alan B. Flanders. Confederate Phoenix: The CSS Virginia. Shippensburg,
Pa.: Burd Street Press, 2001. 285 pages. $34.95.
Eliot A. Cohen.
Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership. New York: The Free
Press, 2002. 302 pages. $25.00.
Jack D. Coombe.
Gunsmoke Over the Atlantic: First Naval Actions of the Civil War. New
York: Bantam Books, 2002. 287 pages. $23.95.
Michael J. Crawford
(ed.). The Autobiography of a Yankee Mariner: Christopher Prince and the
American Revolution. Washington, D.C.: Brassey's 2002. 293 pages. $26.95.
A. Jay Cristol.
The Liberty Incident: The 1967 Israeli Attack on the U.S. Navy Spy Ship.
Dulles, Va.: Brassey's, 2002. 314 pages. $27.50.
Thomas J. Cutler.
The Bluejacket's Manual. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2002.
661 pages. $29.95.
Robert F. Dorr.
Air Force One. St. Paul, Minn.: MBI Publishing, 2002. 156 pages. $29.95.
Lost Subs: From the Hunley to the Kursk, the Greatest Submarines Ever
Lost--and Found. Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo Press, 2002. 176 pages. $35.00.
Jean Ebbert and
Marie-Beth Hall. The First, The Few, The Forgotten. Annapolis, Md.: Naval
Institute Press, 2002. 194 pages. $29.95.
James H. Ellis.
Mad Jack Percival: Legend of the Old Navy. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute
Press, 2002. 267 pages. $34.95.
Steve Ewing. Reaper
Leader: The Life of Jimmy Flatley. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press,
2002. 405 pages. $36.95.
John A. Fahey. Licensed
to Spy. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2002. 192 pages, $25.95.
The Man Behind the Rosenbergs. New York: Enigma Books, 2001. 454 pages.
Geoffrey M. Footner.
USS Constellation: From Frigate to Sloop of War. Annapolis, Md.: Naval
Institute Press, 2002. 382 pages. $39.95.
Wesley L. Fox. Marine
Rifleman: Forty-Three Years in the Corps. Washington, D.C.: Brassey's,
2002. 410 pages. $27.95.
Zachary B. Friedenberg.
Medicine Under Sail. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2002. 181
U.S. Amphibious Ships and Craft: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis,
Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2002. 679 pages. $85.00.
James Gannon, Stealing
Secrets, Telling Lies: How Spies and Codebreakers Helped Shape the Twentieth
Century. Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2001. 323 pages. $26.95.
Susan H. Godson.
Serving Proudly: A History of Women in the U.S. Navy. Annapolis, Md.:
Naval Institute Press, 2001. 470 pages. $38.95.
David A. Graff and
Robin Higham (eds.). A Military History of China. Boulder, Colo.: Westview
Press, 2002. 328 pages. $31.00 (softcover).
Charles J. Gross.
American Military Aviation: The Indispensable Arm. College Station, Texas:
Texas A&M University Press, 2002. 390 pages. $35.00.
Chris Hobson. Vietnam
Air Losses: United States Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps Fixed-Wing
Aircraft Losses in Southeast Asia 1961-1973. Hinckley, England: Midland
Publishing, 2001. 288 pages. $29.95 (softcover).
Peter A. Huchthausen.
October Fury. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2002. 281 pages. $24.95.
Thomas M. Kane.
Chinese Grand Strategy and Maritime Power. Portland, Ore.: Frank Cass,
2002. 170 pages. $49.50.
Philip Kaplan. Run
Silent. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2002. 240 pages. $39.95.
Yoichi Hirama, Berthold J. Sander-Nagashima, and Axel Niestlé.
Reluctant Allies: German-Japanese Naval Relations in World War II. Annapolis,
Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2002. 436 pages. $38.95.
Frederic C. Lane,
Ships for Victory: A History of Shipbuilding Under the U.S. Maritime Commission
in World War II. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.
944 pages. $29.95 (softcover).
Roger D. Launius
and Dennis R. Jenkins. To Reach the High Frontier: A History of U.S. Launch
Vehicles. Lexington, Ky.: University of Kentucky Press, 2002. 519 pages.
Ted Lawson. Thirty
Seconds Over Tokyo. Washington, D.C.: Brassey's 2002. 236 pages. $24.95.
William P. Mack.
Commodore Kilburnie. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2002. 217
Bill Mayher, Maynard
Bray, and Benjamin Mendlowitz. Joel White: Boatbuilder/Designer/Sailor.
227 pages. $60.00.
Stephen C. Mercado.
The Shadow Warriors of Nakano: A History of the Imperial Japanese Army's
Elite Intelligence School. Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2002. 351 pages.
Dwight R. Messimer.
Verschollen: World War I U-Boat Losses. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute
Press, 2002. 341 pages. $36.95.
National Air and
Space Museum. At the Controls: The Smithsonian National Air and Space
Museum Book of Cockpits. Niagara Falls, N.Y.: Boston Mills Press, 2001.
144 pages. $39.95.
Lon O. Nordeen Jr.
Air Warfare in the Missile Age. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution
Press, 2002. 349 pages. $39.95.
Andrew Norman. HMS
Hood: Pride of the Royal Navy. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 2001.
176 pages. $26.95.
Robert S. Norris.
Racing for the Bomb: General Leslie R. Groves, the Manhattan Project's
Indispensable Man. South Royalton, Vt.: Steerforth Press, 2002. 741 pages.
Parkin. Blood on the Sea: American Destroyers Lost in World War II (Cambridge,
Mass.: Da Capo Press, 2001), 370 pages. $20.00 (softcover).
Lawrence Paterson. First U-Boat Flotilla. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute
Press, 2002. 319 pages. $34.95.
Mark A. Peattie.
Sunburst: The Rise of Japanese Naval Air Power, 1909-1941. Annapolis,
Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2002. 385 pages. $36.95.
Pavel Podvig (ed.).
Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2001.
713 pages. $45.00.
Norman Polmar. Death
of the USS Thresher: The Story Behind History's Deadliest Submarine Disaster.
Guilford, Conn.: Lyons Press, 2001. 207 pages. $22.95.
Bill Powell. Treason:
How a Russian Spy Led an American Journalist to a U.S. Double Agent. New
York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. 222 pages. $23.00.
Antony Preston (ed.).
Warship 2001-2002. London: Conway Maritime Press, 2001 (available through
the Naval Institute Press). 208 pages. $42.95.
Death's Railway: A Merchant Mariner on the River Kwai. Benicia, Calif.:
Glencannon Press, 2002. 285 pages. $22.95 (softcover).
Clark G. Reynolds.
Famous American Admirals. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2002.
463 pages. $36.95.
Jeffrey T. Richelson.
The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology.
Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2001. 399 pages. $26.00 (softcover $17.00).
Jack Nastyface: Memoirs of an English Seaman. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute
Press, 2002. 153 pages. $16.95 (softcover).
Jak P. Mallmann
Showell. Hitler's U-Boat Bases. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press,
2002. 216 pages. $32.95.
Joseph T. Stanik.
El Dorado Canyon: Reagan's Undeclared War with Qaddafi. Annapolis, Md.:
Naval Institute Press, 2002. 337 pages. $34.95.
Jack Sweetman. American
Naval History: An Illustrated Chronology of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps,
1775-Present, 3rd ed. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2002. 405
pages. $55.00 (softcover $38.95).
Andrew Thomas. Gloster
Gladiator Aces. St. Paul, Minn.: MBI Publishing, 2002. 96 pages. $18.95
Above and Beyond: The Aviation Medals of Honor. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian
Institution Press, 2002. 304 pages. $29.95.
MiG-21 Units of the Vietnam War. St. Paul, Minn.: MBI Publishing, 2001.
96 pages. $18.95 (softcover).
William F. Trimble.
Jerome C. Hunsaker and the Rise of American Aeronautics. Washington, D.C.:
Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002. 295 pages. $39.95.
Jim Tuttle, Eject!
The Complete History of U.S. Aircraft Escape Systems. St. Paul, Minn.:
MBI Publishing, 2002. 256 pages. $29.95.
James Webb. Lost
Soldiers. New York: Bantam Books, 2001. 373 pages. $25.00.
James E. Wise and
Scott Baron. International Stars at War. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute
Press, 2002. 271 pages. $29.95.
Ben Wofford and
William Richard White. The Marine: A Guadalcanal Survivor's Final Battle.
Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2002. 170 pages. $28.95.
Amy Waters Yarsinske.
No One Left Behind: The Lieutenant Commander Michael Scott Speicher Story.
New York: Dutton, 2002. 296 pages. $25.95.
Steven J. Zaloga.
The Kremlin's Nuclear Sword: The Rise and Fall of Russia's Strategic Nuclear
Forces, 1945-2000. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002.
304 pages. $45.00. *