History of the Modern American Navy: From 1883 through Pearl Harbor

History of the Modern American Navy: From 1883 through Pearl Harbor

History of the Modern American Navy: From 1883 through Pearl Harbor

History of the Modern American Navy: From 1883 through Pearl Harbor

Excerpt

At the age of seven, while rummaging in the family attic, I discovered a gaudily illustrated account of the Spanish-American War. Deeply stirred by the tales of heroic sea exploits, I studied the dimensions of the ships, built models to scale, and -- arming my fleets with firecrackers -- refought the battles.

Thus began a lifelong interest in naval affairs. By the age of twelve I was devouring Mahan and memorizing ship statistics. Though I had never seen a battleship, I could have given from memory the tonnage, speed, and armament of every major warship in the world.

As I proceeded with the self-imposed task of reading everything that had been written concerning the United States Navy, I perceived the limitations of earlier works. Until the latter 1930's naval history, a field largely left untilled by the professional historian, had consisted principally of memoirs of retired admirals and stories of naval exploits. These, heroic in tone and extremely uncritical, were at best partial histories, which neglected many phases of naval development. While some excellent work has been done within recent years (by the Princeton group among others) on such subjects as naval strategy and policy, there remained a need for an interpretative and comprehensive general history of the American Navy. A work of this type should make use of all earlier materials, combining with these such previously underemphasized subjects as naval aid in diplomacy and in polar exploration, naval aspects of the munitions problem, and others. Finally, such material should be presented in terms easily understandable to the lay reader. It is on this threefold plan that History of the Modern American Navy (1883-1941) has been developed.

Research that ultimately carried me over most of the United States was begun at the University of Southern California in the fall of 1938. Here I received valuable aid from Drs. Erik M. Eriksson, G. G. Benjamin (both now deceased), and Owen C. Coy of the History Department; and Drs. J. Eugene Harley and Claude Buss of the . . .

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