Shield of the Republic: The United States Navy in an Era of Cold War and Violent Peace 1945-1962

Shield of the Republic: The United States Navy in an Era of Cold War and Violent Peace 1945-1962

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by Michael T. Isenberg
     
 

Michael T. Isenberg has chronicled, in the first of a projected two-volume study, the historic institution of the United States Navy in the Cold War era. Shield of the Republic, a definitive work on the era, demonstrates both a narrative sweep and a command of style that are rare in works of modern history. The overarching themes of the book are the emergence of the…  See more details below

Overview

Michael T. Isenberg has chronicled, in the first of a projected two-volume study, the historic institution of the United States Navy in the Cold War era. Shield of the Republic, a definitive work on the era, demonstrates both a narrative sweep and a command of style that are rare in works of modern history. The overarching themes of the book are the emergence of the two superpower nations between 1945 and 1962 and an examination of the technologies that rang down the curtain on the Mahanian age of sail. At the conclusion of World War II, naval leaders confronted a drastically redrawn world and, like the rest of the American people, found the adjustment to the bitter, suspicion-riddled years of the 1950s to be both challenging and unsettling. The Korean War, fought largely with World War II equipment, settled much of the debate over what new naval roles and capacities were to be, and emphasized the nature of Pax Americana, which, whatever else the phrase implied, meant American naval hegemony on the oceans of the world, a military dominance that came to its bone-chilling conclusion during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Shield of the Republic is the epic story of these dramatic seventeen years following the Japanese surrender, a time when the Navy struggled to find its strategic footing in the shadow of the atomic bomb, on the slippery ground of interservice rivalry, and amid the frightening realities of superpower conflict. Naval leaders, from the flinty Ernest King to the brilliant Forrest Sherman to the hard-driving Arleigh Burke, battled to keep their beloved service on an even keel while changing its makeup to meet the numerous and unexpected problems of the new era. Unlike many naval histories that consider the Navy merely as an adjunct of American international relations, Shield of the Republic examines the Navy from the inside out and from the keel plates up. Particular attention is paid the rapid and bewildering acceleration of naval technology, from

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
In the first of a projected two-volume study, Isenberg (history, Annapolis) presents a sweeping account of post-World War II naval history from the surrender of the Japanese to the Cuban Missile Crisis. His overarching themes are the emergence of the two superpower nations between 1945 and 1962 and an examination of the technologies that doomed the Mahanian doctrine of sail. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kirkus Reviews
A vivid, nuanced, often witty log on the modern Navy. In the first of two-volume study, Isenberg (History/US Naval Academy; John L. Sullivan and his America, 1988) covers the years from the end of WW II to the Cuban missile crisis—which he calls a "humiliating disaster for the Soviet Union [and] a misleading triumph for the United States." Drawing on a wealth of sources, the author assesses the administrative, operational, personnel, and other institutional developments that molded the salt-water service during the cold war's early stages. In particular, he focuses on the technologies that brought nuclear-powered frigates, submarines, and supercarriers to the fore while relegating once-mighty battleships to mothball fleets. Isenberg concludes that the Navy's aerospace/nuclear capabilities not only played a pivotal role in deterring (as well as encouraging) the threat of atomic holocaust but also helped ensure our virtually unchallenged dominion of the seas—and allowed Washington's frequently arrogant policy-makers to impose their will on a genuinely global scale. Isenberg goes on to provide illuminating perspectives on the many occasions on which presidents yielded to the temptation to employ the flexible, mobile strike-potential of the nation's armada to keep the peace (or otherwise) during the height of East/West confrontation: cases in point encompass Formosa, Korea, Laos, Lebanon, and Suez. Covered as well are the many strong personalities—Arleigh Burke, Hyman Rickover, et al.—who manned the Navy's bridges during a volatile era. Throughout his narrative, moreover, Isenberg displays a refreshingly light touch (a landing ship tank is like "a dumpy buildingwith a shopping cart") without undermining the seriousness of his purpose. A long voyage that handsomely repays the time invested. The comprehensive text—which invites favorable comparison with works by John Keegan, Samuel Eliot Morison, and other giants of military history—is accompanied by maps and 70 photos (not seen).

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312099114
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
10/18/1993
Pages:
948

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Shield of the Republic 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Volume I of Shield of the Republic tells the story of the United States Navy from victory in World War II to the Cuban Missile Crisis. This thoroughly readable history illuminates the adaptations and changes of our nation's senior service from the 40's post-war draw down through the 50's Korean-war struggle and development of strategic services to the early 60's cold-war dominance. Just as the United States struggled to adapt to the post-war world and the acceleration of technology so the Navy struggled to protect the nation and Shield of the Republic tells that story in intimate detail. This is the Samuel E. Morison of the post-WW II era.