Seven at Santa Cruz

This biography follows World War II fighter pilot ace Stanley “Swede” Vejtasa from his Montana home, through numerous World War II aerial battles, to his post war service as the Air Boss on USS Essex (CV-9) and Captain of USS Constellation (CV-64). Vejtasa was known for his exploits against the Japanese in 1942. During the

Silver State Dreadnought

The author is the president of Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico which may explain why his next to last chapter, discussing Operation Crossroads, may have been his finest for his overview of the detonation of two atomic bombs and their impact on the subject of this book – the USS Nevada. That Nevada

US Revenue & Coast Guard Cutters in Naval Warfare

With the release of Thomas Ostrom’s latest book, he has delivered the companion to his 2012 work, The United States Coast Guard and National Defense: A History from World War I to the Present. In Ostrom’s fourth book, the reader is provided with extensive research on naval actions from the origin of the Revenue Marine

The Battleship Bismarck (Anatomy of The Ship)

In May 1941, after having sunk the HMS Hood, one of Britain’s most advanced warships, in spectacular fashion, the mighty German battleship Bismarck was put to the bottom of the sea only five months after being launched. Robert Ballard’s discovery of the wreck in 1989 triggered a surge of interest among the public, including the

Securing the Narrow Sea

In all of WWII, there are few greater contrasts than between the perfect organization and astounding creative engineering of the D-Day landings and of Germany’s “Operation Sea Lion”, its planned invasion of England – impromptu, cobbled-together, and in the end mostly bluff. “Mulberry” artificial harbors, cross-channel underwater fuel pipelines, concrete “Phoenix” floating caissons, swimming tanks,

Lee’s Real Plan at Gettysburg

It’s arguable that there is more written about the battle of Gettysburg than any other event in US military history. The events of 1-3 July 1863 are well-chronicled, well-dramatized. The dramatic exploits at Devil’s Den, on Little Round Top, and the grand charge of Maj. Gen. George Pickett’s division have all received comprehensive coverage, some

Son of Virginia

So why is the Naval Historical Foundation reviewing a major political figure’s autobiography, first published in 2015, now available in paperback, but with no direct connection to the sea services? For this reviewer, it comes down to Doug Wilder’s descriptions of personal character as honed especially by his mother and leadership forged on Old Baldy

Deptford Royal Dockyard & Manor of Sayes Court

Your reviewer became vocational archaeologist by accident but is also an avocation historian (The Naval History of Great Britain, 206 pp., 1962, was my senior high school thesis). I am quite familiar with the MOLA publication series, having reviewed A Dated Type Series of London Medieval Pottery: Part 5, Shelly-sandy Ware and the Greyware Industries

The Gun Club: U.S.S. Duncan at Cape Esperance

For two months after its shocking defeat at the Battle of Savo Island, the USN conceded control by night of the waters around Guadalcanal to the Japanese surface navy. But on October 11, 1942, Rear Adm. Norman Scott moved in his cruiser/destroyer force to challenge this control for the first time. Just before midnight, he

Liberty’s War

Many histories of World War II have given short shrift to the U.S. Merchant Marine, and Herman Melton’s memoir Liberty’s War helps address this gap in history. The purpose of the book was to “recall the wartime experience of a youngster who served in four different Liberty ships.” Edited by his son, Melton’s book tells

The Golden Age of Piracy

Long before Walt Disney invited guests at Disneyland to “sail with the wildest crew that ever sacked the Spanish Main,” piracy has been a topic that has fascinated people – with a rather odd juxtaposition. While no one would want to encounter a real pirate, the aura of the pirate has captured the imagination to

This is No Drill

One might wonder, as it has been over 75 years since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, what new information could be presented on this event. The answer is quite a lot. All standard accounts of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor focus on the ships at Pearl Harbor and the Army Air Corps airfields

Progressives in Navy Blue

Progressives in Navy Blue: Maritime Strategy, American Empire, and the Transformation of U.S. Naval Identity, 1873-1898 By Scott Mobley, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD. (2017). Reviewed by CDR John T. Kuehn, USN (Ret.)   This book is part of a series edited by historians Chris Bell and Jim Bradford published by the Naval Institute. It

New Interpretations in Naval History

New Interpretations in Naval History: Selected Papers from the 18th McMullen Naval Symposium Edited by Lori Lyn Bogle and James C. Rentfrow, Naval War College, (2018). Reviewed by Stephen D. Regan, Ed.D.   This collection of papers is a wonderful surprise. Usually scholarly historical symposium papers are pedantic, boring, poorly written treatises about obscure and

The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn

The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn: An Untold Story of the American Revolution By Robert P. Watson, Da Capo Press, (2017). Reviewed by Chief Warrant Officer Darien J. Garland, United States Marine Corps   Under dark and gray skies, the HMS Jersey sits ominously off the coast of Brooklyn in the calm waters of Wallabout Bay.