Tuesday, February 5

My book review for the latest DTI

This is going to be a little bit of overkill, but I think I'll use this post to point to all of the instances of my review, for future reference.

Here's the review as it appeared on Ares:

Here's my book review from the next issue of DTI:

Halsey's Typhoon: The True Story of a Fighting Admiral, an Epic Storm, and an Untold Rescue
By Bob Drury and Tom Clavin
Atlantic Monthly Press, 2007
322 pp., $25.00

When Jack Ryan and Captain Marko Ramius first meet in The Hunt for Red October, they stumble into a discussion about Ryan's books. Ramius says, “You were wrong, Ryan. Halsey acted stupidly.”

This is the question that looms large in the background of the book Halsey's Typhoon: When confronted with a Pacific storm that would ultimately be named Typhoon Cobra, did Admiral William Halsey, Jr. act stupidly? When all was said and done, his fleet was ravaged: 150 mph winds blew planes off decks. 90 foot seas turned planes below decks into skittering bombs. Waves towered over destroyers, threatening to capsize them at every moment, or pour down their funnels. Three destroyers sank. Worst of all, almost 800 men died. The authors describe the aftermath as twice as bad as that of the Battle of Midway. Did Halsey act stupidly? Was he negligent, given what he knew?

Looking back, thinking about those fragile destroyers, it's hard to imagine what Halsey was thinking. Yes, he was committed to supporting MacArthur's return to the Philippines, specifically the invasion of Mindoro. And he had been so roundly criticized for leaving MacArthur exposed at the Battle of Leyte Gulf that we can sympathize with his hope that the weather would clear up, that he would be able to complete massive refueling operations and return to the fight. Further, though subjected to a Court of Inquiry, he was never officially sanctioned. Even his captains who barely survived excused him.

It's difficult, though, to let Halsey off the hook while reading scores of pages about men fighting for their lives in the hearts of dying 'tin cans' or on their sea-washed decks. Why didn't Halsey fold at the first sign of trouble? Why didn't he give up refueling as he unwittingly rescheduled rendezvous in the path of the storm? In the last half of the book, page after page recounts the deaths of sailors, killed in their ships, washed into the Pacific, succumbing to one of the many deadly effects of being lost in the ocean.

The hero of the book is Lt. Comdr. Henry Lee Plage, captain of the Destroyer Escort USS Tabberrer, who repeatedly leaves off obeying rendezvous orders to search for and rescue 55 sailors floating without hope.

Drury and Clavin write a gripping story of survival at sea during time of war when weather can become your worst enemy.

Official Halsey's Typhoon website

Here's the link to the review in DTI on Nxtbook.

And here's a copy of the pdf I got to proof. (This is the best looking one, obviously.)
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