Books Feature First Black Admiral,
Nuclear Weapons, Fast Battleships
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
STOCKPILE: The Story
Behind 10,000 Strategic
By Jerry Miller, Annapolis, Md.: Naval
Institute Press, 2010. 296 pp. $37.95
There is no shortage of writings on
nuclear weapons and associated
issues, but neither is there shortage of
ignorance on the issues. Jerry Miller, a retired vice admiral
who spent much of his career in nuclear warfare planning,
including helping to prepare the National Strategic Target
List, is uniquely qualified to educate the public about
nuclear warfare. In “Stockpile,” Miller documents the
Cold War nuclear arms race and the growth of the U.S.
nuclear weapon stockpile to more than 10,000 weapons
by the 1970s. He discusses policy, strategy targeting,
weapons technology, delivery platforms, inter-service
rivalries, the role of scientists and arms control. He also
details the inadequacy of the news media and academia in
helping the public understand the complexities of nuclear
issues. Miller pulls no punches in his opinions and judgments on many policies and decisions of the nuclear age.
TRAILBLAZER: The U.S.
Navy’s First Black Admiral
By Vice Adm. Samuel L. Gravely Jr.
with Paul Stillwell: Naval Institute
Press, 2010. 312 pp. $34.95
This memoir, co-written by historian
Paul Stilwell, is the story of the first
African-American to reach flag rank.
Samuel Gravely’s story begins with his boyhood in segregated Richmond, Va., and his service during World War
II as an officer on a subchaser, one of only two warships
at the time with black officers. Gravely served on seven
other ships, including the battleship Iowa, and became an
expert in communications. He ultimately commanded
U.S. Third Fleet and Defense Communications Agency.
His career is an odyssey of overcoming the obstacles of
racist attitudes. He once was arrested for “impersonating”
an officer. Many of today’s African-American flag officers
credit Gravely as the inspiration for their climb to successful careers. Gravely, who died in 2004, was honored last
year with the commissioning of a destroyer, USS Gravely.
US FAST BATTLESHIPS
1936-1947: The North Carolina
and South Dakota Classes
US FAST BATTLESHIPS
1938-1991: The Iowa Class
By Lawrence Burr, Oxford, U.K.:
Osprey Publishing, 2010. 48 pp.
each. $17.95 each.
ISBNs: ( 1) 978-1-84603-511-1,
( 2) 978-1-84603-510-4
The last 10 battleships (BBs) built for
the U.S. Navy are featured in these
two monographs. The first details
the two BBs of the North Carolina
and four BBs of the South Dakota
class, all authorized in 1936 and
benefiting from the technological
advances in armor, armament and
propulsion since World War I. The second book deals
with the four BBs of the Iowa class, the ultimate battleship
class built without the restrictions of the Washington
Naval Treaty, a pact signed in 1922 by the United States,
Britain, Japan, France and Italy aimed at limiting their
naval armaments. It remained in force until the end of
1936, when it was not renewed.
These ships, unlike their older cousins, were fast
enough to protect the carrier task forces that swept the
Japanese Navy from the Pacific. The radar-equipped
ships provided anti-aircraft protection and bombarded
enemy island defenses, but rarely met Japanese battleships in classic surface duels. Only during the Second
Battle for Guadalcanal did two of these modern ships,
Washington and South Dakota, get the opportunity to
slug it out with, and defeat, a Japanese battleship.
The Iowa-class ships performed excellent service in
the Pacific, but never had the opportunity to fulfill the
measure of their creation. Japan surrendered on the
deck of Missouri. All four Iowa BBs bombarded shore
targets during the Korean War. New Jersey was reactivated to shell targets in Vietnam. All four were reactivated in the 1980s; New Jersey fired its guns at Syrian
targets in Lebanon and Missouri and Wisconsin fired
guns and Tomahawk missiles against Iraqi targets during Operation Desert Storm. ■