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Posted November 18, 2006
A Wonderful Book About Great American Naval Heroes
Over the years, I have read scores of books about John Paul Jones, who captained the tiny Bonhomme Richard in its battle with the British vessel Serapis. Each time I was overwhelmed with pride, that a small man, an American, leading an inferior ship in battle against an overwhelmingly more powerful enemy could, by the sheer force of his own will, guile and brutality defeat that foe. It was a delight to find this battle retold, this time by Jones himself in, ¿The Greatest US Navy Stories Ever Told¿ which was released recently by The Lyons Press and edited by Iain C. Martin. The Jones story brought back all of the terrible drama of those old books forty years after they were last read. In chronological order the editor delivers the reader to the time and place of each chapter which follows, starting with the bloody Revolutionary War sea battle and concluding the 22 chapter book with a humbling account of post-Vietnam war SEAL training. I have previously read books by many of the contributing authors such as, Nathan Miller, Peter Maas, Gordon W. Prange, Edwin P. Hoyt, Thomas J. Cutler, I. J. Galantin and Sherry Sontag, enjoying each immensely. It is not surprising that in many instances Martin has chosen the most well-known of each author's work. The reader is delivered to the little known battles between the fledgling American Navy and France late in the 18th century, river battles in Vietnam and Cold War submarining, but also to the accidental sinking of Squalus, the attack at Pearl Harbor, Midway, and submarine warfare in World War II. Not as well known, at least to the more casual reader are George Dewey's account of the Battle of Manila Bay Stephen Decatur's commando raid in the war against Tripoli in 1803, Cecil Scott Forester's telling of the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie which pitted the American Navy once again struggling with the British, the Civil War conflicts in the waters of Mobile Bay, Alabama, the sinking of the US corvette Eagle 56 in WW II and a disquieting account of Korean War nursing on the hospital ship USS Consolation. Two of America's greatest authors, Herman Melville and James Fenimore Cooper add considerable luster to the book, which includes many other descriptions of historic naval battles and encounters not discussed in this review. In these days of limited time and much desire to read what one enjoys, this book was perfect. I could read a chapter, then set it down for several days and not suffer because each chapter was a story unto its own. There was always another gem just waiting for me to enjoy. Do I recommend this book? An emphatic ¿yes¿. 'The Greatest US Navy Stories Ever Told' is so captivating and dramatic that even sub par copy editing did not dampen my enthusiasm for it. Frankly, it seems unlikely that any reader of naval history would not be very pleased that they paid $24.95 to get their hands on it. Mike Ostlund, findchasesink.comWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.