NAVY SEALS: A History--Part II: From Vietnam to Desert Storm, by Kevin
Dockery. New York, N.Y.: Berkley Publishing Group, 2002. 240 pp. $22.95.
Author Kevin Dockery, using firsthand accounts and little-known facts
about the SEALs themselves, their weapons, and their missions, reveals
the nature of those brave and few individuals who possess the unique physical,
mental, and emotional qualities needed to qualify as Navy SEALs. This
second volume chronicling the history of the SEALs takes readers from
the years preceding the Vietnam War to and through Desert Storm as the
SEALs forge their own identity in the military--and in the minds of potential
enemies--as a force to be reckoned with. The excellent photographs included
throughout add considerably to Dockery's narrative and to his interviews
of the men who took part in so many missions, a number of them still highly
classified, that not only changed the nature of naval warfare but also,
in some instances, the course of world history. With two maps, black-and-white
photographs, and index.
SAILORS TO THE END: The Deadly Fire on the USS Forrestal and the Heroes
Who Fought It, by Gregory A. Freeman. New York, N.Y.: William Morrow,
2002. 320 pp. $25.95. Christened and launched in December 1954, the conventionally
powered USS Forrestal was the most advanced aircraft carrier sailing the
seas. In 1967 the Atlantic-based Forrestal was deployed to the Gulf of
Tonkin, off the coast of Vietnam, but was only four days into her deployment
when tragedy struck. Author Gregory Freeman tells the story of the Forrestal
and her crew, basing his narrative on interviews with surviving crew members
and his reading of the Navy's official investigation and other documents.
The reader is taken from the bridge, where Capt. J. Beling watched the
flight deck erupt in flames, to the port steering compartment, where 21-year-old
James Blaskis is beyond the reach of rescue teams. Freeman weaves a tale
of bravery and heroism, and also discusses the politics involved in the
Navy's investigation of the tragedy. Navy supporters and many other readers
will find it a rare pleasure to read a book that deals with heroic acts
carried out during the Vietnam War. With 16 black-and-white photographs,
two diagrams, notes, bibliography, and index.
1001 THINGS EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WORLD WAR II, by Frank E. Vandiver.
New York, N.Y.: Broadway Books, 2002. 272 pp. $26.95. Military historian
Frank E. Vandiver, president emeritus of Texas A&M, has put together
a highly readable and informed book for those interested in World War
II, particularly the behind-the-scenes background of important issues.
Vandiver keeps the factual passages short, but without missing the integral
figures and the telling details of key events from the beginnings of Hitler's
rise to power, to the Allied campaign in Europe, and the eventual surrender
of Japan. From Churchill to Truman, the pivotal players are there alongside
many lesser-known participants. This is not just a book for the novice,
though. Even professional scholars and history buffs will value the information
provided and the format used. Includes pictures of the more important
political and military leaders, battle maps, and images from the front
line. With index.
LEFT FOR DEAD: A Young Man's Search for Justice for the USS Indianapolis,
by Pete Nelson with a preface by Hunter Scott. New York, N.Y.: Delacorte,
2002. 224 pp. $15.95. The last voyage of the USS Indianapolis was a mission
to carry--to Tinian Island from California--components of the first two
atomic bombs. The Indianapolis then sailed to Guam before heading to the
Philippines, without escort. Of the 1,197 men aboard the ship on 30 July
1945 approximately 300 were killed immediately when Japanese torpedoes
struck her without warning. The story of the sinking has been told many
times before, but last year it was told again, from a totally different
perspective, when a sixth-grade student, 11-year-old Hunter Scott, chose
the tragic sinking as his history-fair project. Pete Nelson tells the
story of both the Indianapolis and of Hunter Scott, and both are impressive.
Nelson walks the reader through the unusual and sometimes bizarre events
leading up to the sinking of the Indianapolis. He then proceeds to Scott's
five-year quest to right the injustice to Capt. Charles McVay, the Indianapolis
commanding officer--and the only ship's captain to be court-martialed
at the end of World War II. Although the ship's survivors had tried for
over 50 years to clear McVay's name, their efforts were in vain. Hunter
Scott was successful, though, because of perseverance and his extensive
research. His efforts were rewarded in October 2000, after he had appeared
before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The two incredible stories
in this book (written for young adult readers, ages 12 and up) are a testament
to what one person can accomplish through bravery and persistence.
THE LIBERTY INCIDENT: The 1967 Israeli Attack on the U.S. Navy Spy Ship,
by A. Jay Cristol. Dulles, Va.: Brassey's, 2002. 320 pp. $27.50. On 8
June 1976, at the height of the Six-Day War, Israeli air and naval forces
attacked the USS Liberty, an intelligence-collection ship, killing 34
Americans and wounding 171. Cristol, a former naval aviator and now a
federal judge, spent 10 years investigating the incident. In this minute-by-minute
account of the events leading up to the attack he seeks to lay to rest
the allegation that Israel knew at the time of the attack that the Liberty
was an American ship. Using recently declassified documents and interviews
with key U.S. and Israeli officials--Yitzhak Rabin and Robert McNamara,
to name two--he presents a reasonable case for Israel's innocence. After
first laying out his information, he asks the reader to consider the time
and circumstances under which the attack took place, during the peak of
the Cold War, and to question why Israel would deliberately attack a ship
belonging to its closest ally, the United States. The "simple truth,"
according to Cristol, is that numerous errors, made by both countries,
were the cause of what, even in a best-case scenario, was a tragic and
probably avoidable accident. With 20 black-and-white photographs, maps,
diagrams, two appendixes, glossary, bibliography, notes, and index.
STORMCHASERS: The Hurricane Hunters and Their Fateful Flight Into Hurricane
Janet, by David Toomey, New York, N.Y.: W.W. Norton & Company, 2002.
314 pp. $25.95. In late September of 1955 a crew of nine "Hurricane
Hunters" left Guantanomo Bay, Cuba, on a reconnaissance flight to
determine the latest position and track of Hurricane Janet. It was expected
to be a routine flight of less than nine hours. Author David Toomey takes
the reader into the, at that time, primitive science of storm-tracking.
Using a combination of verifiable history and some creative drama, he
weaves a captivating and haunting story of those heroes who flew literally
into harm's way in the early days of weather-reconnaissance missions.
The early stormchasers located the storm, then flew circles inside it
at several altitudes, while measuring wind velocities and atmospheric
pressure--all without the use of computers or satellite support. These
first crews explored the powerful storms, moreover, flying WWII-vintage
aircraft equipped with only rudimentary radar systems, and were the first
to do so both deliberately and routinely. Stormchasers is derived from
Navy documents and interviews with squadron members and relatives of the
crew. With seven black-and-white photographs, bibliography, and index.
Unless otherwise noted, the preceding book reviews
were written by Editorial Assistant Sharon L. Gardner.