Academic journal article Naval War College Review

A Leader Born

Academic journal article Naval War College Review

A Leader Born

Article excerpt

Gilbert, Alton Keith, ed. A Leader Born. Drexel Hill, Pa.: casemate, 2006. 230pp. $32.95

Alton Keith Gilbert, a retired naval officer, uses a descriptive survey method of research through letters, operational documents, fitness reports, personal accounts, and awards to chronicle the biography of Admiral John "Slew" McCain.

The book builds a strong sense of the character and tenacity of McCain and his ability as a warfighter through one of the most difficult periods of World War II. From his commissioning as an ensign to admiral, McCain was influenced by the Navy's greatest leaders. The author describes the development of McCain as he progressed through his sea and shore assignments. The study culminates in a detailed description of the war in the Pacific and the tactics used, particularly when dealing with Japanese kamikaze pilots, under McCain's operational leadership.

An intriguing aspect of this book is the detailed description of the political dealings among the Navy's senior leaders. This allows the reader to understand some of the activity behind the scenes that ultimately shaped the outcome of the war. It is clear that McCain was a warrior's warrior who literally worked himself to death: "After Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945, McCain flew back to his home in the U. …

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