THE SAILOR’S HOMER: The
Life and Times of Richard
McKenna, Author of The
By Dennis L. Noble. Annapolis, Md.:
Naval Institute Press, 2015.
264 pp. $42.95
Richard McKenna achieved prominence as author of the classic novel
“The Sand Pebbles,” the story of the U.S. Navy crew of
a gunboat on the Yangtze Patrol in China in the years
between the World Wars later made into a major motion
picture starring Steve McQueen. McKenna’s own experiences as a “China Sailor” offer a rare perspective of an
enlisted man, one who loved the machinery — like the
novel’s protagonist — as well as books, a combination
that enabled him to put in print an account of ordinary
men operating and sometimes thriving in alien cultures.
NAVAL AIR WAR: The Rolling
By Norman Polmar and Edward J.
Marolda. Washington, D.C.: Navy
History & Heritage Command,
2015. 67 pp. $22.00
KNOWING THE ENEMY:
Naval Intelligence in
By Richard A. Mobley and Edward
J. Marolda. Washington, D.C.: Navy
History & Heritage Command,
2015. 100 pp. $21.00
ISBNs: 978-0-945274-82-7, 978-0-
The Navy History & Heritage
Command’s series “U.S. Navy and
the Vietnam War” continues with monographs on the
first half of the air war over North Vietnam, Operation
Rolling Thunder, and the operations of U.S. naval
intelligence. “Naval Air War” covers the Tonkin Gulf
incident, strikes and reconnaissance missions, battles with surface-to-air missiles and MiGs, and other
aspects, with sidebars on the weapons and leaders.
“Knowing the Enemy” covers the intelligence collec-
tion and analysis that supported naval operations, from
the riverine and coastal forces missions to the trail
interdiction in Laos and air war over North Vietnam.
One notable sidebar offers an account of a submarine’s
role in tracking a North Vietnamese supply ship.
THE MATHEWS MEN: Seven
Brothers and the War Against
By William Geroux. New York: Viking
(Penguin Random House), 2016.
390 pp. $28.00
Author Geroux was prompted
by conversations with citizens of
Mathews County, Va., to write this
look at that county’s contributions to the Allied campaigns
in World War II. The county contributed an extraordinary portion of its men to the crews of the merchant ships
that braved the U-boat-infested Atlantic to carry military
personnel and their equipment and supplies. The author
concentrates on one family, the Hodges — who sent seven
sons to sea — and their friends and neighbors, to depict
the heroism and sacrifices of the men whose actions often
escaped the recognition due for their role in victory.
DORNIER 24 UNITS
By Peter De Jong. Oxford, U.K.
Osprey Publishing, 2015.
48 pp. $22.95
This monograph describes the
three-engine Dornier 24 (Do 24)
flying boat, which had the odd distinction of serving on both sides in
World War II. Designed for the Dutch Navy, it flew in the
East Indies against Japanese invaders, with surviving aircraft serving in the Royal Australian Air Force. Germany
continued production for its air-sea rescue service and it
operated in all theaters in Europe. Some were supplied
to Spain to rescue German crews and these aircraft lasted
in service into 1969. The Do 24 continued production
in France after the war and served in the French Navy’s
Aeronavale. Others were pressed into use by Great
Britain, Sweden and the Soviet Union. n
Seapower does not review works of fiction or self-published books.
Books Highlight Gunboat,
Merchant Ship Crew Heroics
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor