I like reading books about military subjects and I especially like books about the Navy. Hell, I like reading period! On this page I will review and rate some of the military books that I’ve read . That way, you don’t have to spend the money without having some idea about what the books about. There are some good ones out there. Hopefully, you’ll find one you like.
The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy’s Finest Hour
by James D. Hornfischer
Let’s start out with a review of one of my favorites.
From Publishers Weekly:
“One of the finest naval action narratives in recent years, this book follows in the footsteps of Flags of our Fathers, creating a microcosm of the American Navy destroyers. James Hornfisher covers the battle off Samar, the Philippines, in October 1944, in which a force of American escort carriers and destroyers fought off a Japanese force many times its strength, and the larger battle of Leyte Gulf, the opening of the American liberation of the Philippines, which might have suffered a major setback if the Japanese had attacked the American transports. He presents the men who crewed the destroyers and DE’s in Taffy 3, most of whom had never seen salt water before the war but who fought, flew, and kept the crippled ships afloat aboard their doomed fighting ships, almost literally, to the last shell.”
This is one of the best books I’ve read about tin cans and DE’s during WWII and I highly recommend it! This is where the DE Samuel B. Roberts was sunk fighting a Japanese cruiser and her name has since been used on another DE and a Frigate to honor those great sailors who fought that David vs Goliath battle. This book is one you will want in your library!
Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills
by Charles Henderson
Here’s another one that I really enjoyed. This one is about Carlos Hathcock, a Marine sniper during the Vietnam was. The Marines are part of the Navy, so I think this one counts.
Marine Sniper is not only one of the most astonishing true stories to emerge from the Vietnam War, it has become a classic of military nonfiction.
There have been many Marines. There have been many marksmen. But there has only been one Sergeant Carlos Hathcock. A legend in the Marine ranks, Hathcock stalked the Viet Cong behind enemy lines-on their own ground. And each time he emerged from the jungle having done his duty. His record is one of the finest in military history, with 93 confirmed kills.
This is the story of a simple man who endured incredible dangers and hardships for his country and his Corps. These are the missions that have made Carlos Hathcock a legend in the brotherhood of Marines.
I loved being on a ship and being at sea. For me, the Navy was a natural thing. I used to have pictures of ships on my bedroom wall when I was 14. But I was meant to be a sailor, not a Marine. I could never have done this.
I found the story of Carlos Hathcock very interesting and inspirational. The man crawled on his belly for 3/4 of a mile, stayed stone sill, and finally took the shot at several hundred yards, to kill a North Vietnamese general. Then he stayed put while NVA soldiers walked all around him. This is a great story and I recommend it to anyone.
The Arnheiter Affair
by Neil Sheehan
For those Walton sailors who served under Capt. Rogers, I think you will find this a very interesting book. In March 1966, off the coast of Viet Nam, Lieutenant Commander Marcus Aurelius Arnheiter was relieved of command of the U.S.S. Vance (DE 387). He had been her captain for only 99 days! I know that some of our Walton sailors also served on the Vance and it would be on interest to me to have them comment on what they heard of know about Capt. Arnheiter.
As the officers and crew of the Vance tell it, the script of their voyage reveals a real-life story as fascinating as The Caine Mutiny or Mister Roberts. They tell of a captain who exhibited strange quirks and ran his ship with tyrannical whimsy. They say he enforced discipline with a martinet’s fetish for shined belt buckles and shoes. Officers were required to give three-minute talks on subjects they found under their dinner plates – such as the proper use of a finger bowl or how to deport oneself in an opera box. Minor infractions cost the culprit a quarter in the Boner Box, which was used to buy cigars, smoked mainly by Arnheiter himself.
Captain Arnheiter not only denied the accusations but waged an aggressive public campaign to clear himself-charging that in the course of molding the Vance into a taut, combat ready warship, his subordinate officers conspired against him with false and clandestine complaints to his superiors. He also said the Navy violated its own Regulations by not informing him before they relieved him of command.
Admirals came to his defense, as did one of the most promising captain in the Navy who was designated to command the world’s only operating battleship (he never got the command and retired for years later). The “affair” spilled over into the nation’s press and prompted a congressional hearing.
I have a feeling that the officers of the Walton will find this one even more interesting than us enlisted men since you are more familiar with what happens in Officer Country.
This book is out of print but I got it online at Powell’s Book Store.
The Enemy Below
Do you enjoy Navy movies? Better yet, do you like movies with DE’s in them? Of course you do! This movie was made in 1957 and will warm the barnacles on your old DE sailor’s heart.
Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens star in this WWII drama about an American DE and a German U-boat locked in a duel at sea. As both men try to out think and out maneuver each other, the chase becomes a deadly chess game in which any mistake can bring instant defeat and death! How’s that grab you!?
Winner of the 1957 Academy Award for Best Special Effects, The Enemy Below marked the directorial debut of actor Dick Powell. Some of you may remember the DE used in the making of this picture, it’s the USS Whitehurst (DE 634), but in the movie, they call her the USS Haynes (DE 181). She looks pretty good and there are some nice depth charge scenes. Obviously, the set the depth pretty shallow so there would be lots of water exploding up into the air. If you can’t find it at Blockbuster, you can order it from Amazon.com. All ahead full to the video store!
The Boatswain’s Mate
by Patrick Johnston
This is an unusual book. It’s a fictional autobiography. It’s written as a memoir but it really just a novel.
Our hero, “Jake” Rickmeyer , is a sixteen year old kid who’s kicked out of him home in Oklahoma. The time is 1944 and Jake manages to lie to get into the Navy, and is assigned to a destroyer in time to see action and win a medal in WWII.
Jake talks like a sailor but, then again, there’s not a lot of cussing, so he’s a pretty tame sailor, in my view. He seems to be good at what he does, learns fast, and rises steadily through the rands.
Along the way, he falls in love, get married, gets divorced, see action in the Korean War, crosses the equator, has shore duty, and visits all of the places we all wanted to visit.
Jack turns out to be a sailor who’s in the right, or wrong, place at the right time. He sees action in Viet Nam, and seems to have the ability to make friends with officers and chiefs who remember him when he need to be remembered. Pat Johnston, the author, does a creditable job of holding our interest. I wouldn’t call it a book I couldn’t put down and I think ex sailors will like it more than none Navy types.
It is an enjoyable read for those of us who have a little time on deck. I can recommend it to all of you “armchair” sailors who still dream in haze gray. Check it out.
All Quiet on the Western Front
by Erih Maria Remarque
Plot Summary & Review:
Paul Baumer enlisted with his classmates in the German army of World War I. Youthful, enthusiastic, they become soldiers. But despite what they have learned, they break into pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches. And as horrible war plods on year after year, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principles of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against each other–if only he can come out of the war alive.
“The world has a great writer in Erich Maria Remarque. He is a craftsman of unquestionably first trank, a man who can bend language to his will. Whether he writes of men or of inanimate nature, his touch is sensitive, firm, and sure.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
My father was in World War I so I have had an interest in reading this book for some time now. It is on all the lists of “great” war novels so I thought it was about time that I read it. It is indeed, a very good book, but be forewarned, many of you will call it an ”anti-war” book and it’s also written from the perspective of a German soldier. It does not glorify or sugarcoat the horrors of war. WWI was a war that experienced the beginning of new killing technology. Charging trenches manned with modern machine guns is a messy business. As we all know, poison gas was used in this war and Private Baumer describes the effects of that unique weapon. Still, it is not in the same catagory as say, Johnny Got His Gun. Keep an open mind and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
It is a very good book. If you have an interest in WWI or good literature I can recommend it highly.
Little Ship, Big War: TheSaga of DE343
by CDR Edward P. Stafford (USN Ret)
This is probably the best book out there about the day to day activities of a DE during the later part of WWII. It’s an autobiography of CDR Stafford during his time on the ship, and by extension, a biography of the USS Abercrombie (DE 343) a Buckley Class DE just like the Walton. The day to day activities are there, the personalities of officers and crew are there, and the historical events of the day are there.
I have already reviewed Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailor’s which is a terrific account of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Stafford does an excellent job of relating that same battle but concentrates on the role of the destroyers and destroyer escorts of Taffy 3. For this reason alone, I enjoyed the book. The detail of shipboard life may put off some people but I don’t think it will DE sailors. It’s the drills, the General Quarters, the four on/four off watches, and the routines and interactions of the crew. It’s the Navy.
Master and Commander (The Far Side of the World)
Amazon.com Essential Video: In the capable hands of director Peter Weir, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a seafaring adventure like no other, impeccably authentic, dynamically cast, and thrilling enough to give any classic swashbuckler a run for its money. In adapting two of Patrick O’Brian’s enormously popular novels about British naval hero Capt. Jack Aubrey, Weir and cowriter John Collee have changed the timeframe from the British/American war of 1812 to the British/French opposition of 1805, where the HMS Surprise, under Aubrey’s confident command, is patrolling the South Atlantic in pursuit of the Acheron, a French warship with the strategic advantage of greater size, speed, and artillery. Russell Crowe is outstanding as Aubrey, firm and fiercely loyal, focused on his prey even if it means locking horns with his friend and ship’s surgeon, played by Crowe’s A Beautiful Mind costar Paul Bettany. Employing a seamless combination of carefully matched ocean footage, detailed models, full-scale ships, and CGI enhancements, Weir pays exacting attention to every nautical detail, while maintaining a very human story of honor, warfare, and survival under wretched conditions. Raging storms and hull-shattering battles provide pulse-pounding action, and a visit to the Galapagos Islands lends a note of otherworldly wonder, adding yet another layer of historical perspective to this splendidly epic adventure. –Jeff Shannon
That pretty well tells the story of this excellent DVD. For those who have never read the Patrick O’Brian novels, you have missed a real treat. The dialoge is just wonderful and I don’t think there’s anybody who brings to life the living conditions on a British Man-o-War any better. When the movie came out, I was expecting to be disappointed, because I couln’t imagine how they could translate O’Brian’s novels into a movie. Well, Peter Weir has done an excellent job and I feel comfortable in saying that anybody who enjoys this genre will be glad they bought this DVD.
Movie Rating: A+