Happy Birthday, U.S. Navy!

October 9, 2014

US Navy logoOctober 13 marks the 239th anniversary of the establishment of the United States Navy. Dating back to the early days of the revolution, the Navy was initially formed when the Continental Congress voted to “fit out” two sailing vessels. The sailing vessels armed with carriage and swivel guns and manned by small crews were sent out in an effort to stop transports that helped supply British forces during the American Revolution. This effort mandated by the Continental Congress on October 13, 1775 established the Continental Navy, and thus is now recognized as the official birthday of the U.S. Navy. Celebrate the remarkable history of the U.S. Navy with these publications currently available from the U.S. Government Bookstore:

008-046-00289-4Naval Documents of the American Revolution, V. 12, American Theater, April 1, 1778-May 31, 1778; European Theater, April 1, 1778-May 31, 1778: This twelfth volume in the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Naval Documents of the American Revolution series tells the story of the Revolutionary War on the water during the period of April to June 1778. In the tradition of the preceding volumes—the first of which was published in 1964—this work synthesizes edited documents, including correspondence, ship logs, muster rolls, orders, and newspaper accounts, that provide a comprehensive understanding of the war at sea in the spring of 1778. The editors organize this wide array of texts chronologically by theater and incorporate French, Italian, and Spanish transcriptions with English translations throughout. Volume 12 presents the essential primary sources on a crucial time in the young republic’s naval history—as the British consolidate their strength in the Mid-Atlantic, and the Americans threaten British shipping in European waters and gain a powerful ally as France prepares to enter the war.

008-046-00202-9Sea Raiders of the American Revolution: The Continental Navy in European Waters: This book discusses three American Revolutionary War captains: Lambert Wickes, Gustavus Conyngham, and John Paul Jones. Each of them lead raids on British waters during the American Revolution.

008-046-00282-7Commerce Raiding: Historical Case Studies, 1755-2009: The book of sixteen case studies examining commerce raiding or guerre de course shows that this strategy has time after time proven itself a most efficient way for sea powers to exert pressure on an opponent, especially a lesser sea power or land power, but that land powers have had little success using this strategy against sea powers. Topics include international piracy, international trade and historical background for the American War of Independence, the Civil War, and both World Wars.

008-046-00263-1Talking About Naval History: A Collection of Essays: This collection of naval history essays provides a wide historical perspective that ranges across nearly four centuries of maritime history. A number of these pieces have been published previously but have appeared in other languages and in other countries, where they may not have come to the attention of an American naval reading audience. This collection is divided into parts that deal with four major themes: the broad field of maritime history; general naval history, with specific focus on the classical age of sail, from the mid-seventeenth century to the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815; the wide scope of American naval history from 1775 to the end of the twentieth century; and finally, the realm of naval theory and its relationship to naval historical studies.

008-046-00271-1New Interpretations in Naval History: Selected Papers From the Sixteenth Naval History Symposium: A selection of the best 12 papers presented at the 2009 Naval History Symposium, the 16th in the series. The contributors are all maritime and naval historians, and their contributions range from the U.S. colonial era through the 1960s. They are not tied to a central theme but represent the vitality of studies in naval and maritime history.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE PUBLICATIONS?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these and other publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for these in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the author: Trudy Hawkins is Senior Marketing and Promotions Specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).


Afghanistan and International Law

July 14, 2010

Since 1901, the Naval War College (NWC) has produced its “Blue Book” series on various international law topics. Over the years, I’ve thumbed through a few of these volumes. I remember one on the law of piracy that would be very relevant today, given the shenanigans off the Somali coast. The latest Blue Book is even more timely. The War in Afghanistan: A Legal Analysis is a compilation of essays from an International Law Expert’s Workshop held at the NWC. It touches on just about every aspect of the war, from the legal issues surrounding the original coalition intervention to the vexed problem of the status of combatants.

The first paper in the “The War in Afghanistan in Context” section was totally engrossing. “Afghanistan and International Security” by Adam Roberts, Senior Research Fellow of the Centre for International Studies, Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford, and President-elect of the British Academy is a tour de force of clear and logically-structured writing that delineates the historical and political background of Afghanistan, prior efforts by outside power to control it, and the vexing legal issues the current situation presents. Particularly noteworthy was his point that it’s difficult  for the coalition gradually to turn over power to the national government in a place where most of the citizenry historically have had no use for any central government. After I finished reading, I was impressed by the author’s grasp of his subject and absolutely daunted by the challenges Afghanistan presents.

Another excellent paper, “Combatants” by W. Hays Parks, Senior Associate Deputy General Counsel, International Affairs Division, Office of General Counsel, U.S. Department of Defense, concludes that the Bush Administration’s decision to deny prisoner of war status to Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters was correct under long-established international law, but that its supporting statements were incorrect.  I found this essay to be particularly well-documented and lucidly written.

There’s much more to The War in Afghanistan: A Legal Analysis. Some of the discussions depend upon close readings of international precedents that make it heavy going for a lay reader, but all have value for the student of international affairs and the rule of law.

You can find the complete text of The War in Afghanistan: A Legal Analysis  here, browse through it  here, purchase a copy, or look through it at a library.


Notable Documents: The Navy and Indochina, 1945-1965

June 18, 2010

Continuing with my review of Library Journal’s 2009 Notable Government Documents, today’s selection is The Approaching Storm: Conflict in Asia, 1945-1965. This first volume in a new Naval History and Heritage Command  series is designed to present “well-illustrated, engagingly written, and authoritative booklets that detail the Navy’s major involvement” in the Vietnam War.

The Approaching Storm is an auspicious beginning to this series. Its concise text places the Navy’s Southeast Asian operational activities in the post-World War II decade into the context of American and international politics. It’s instructive to follow internal political developments in South Vietnam, particularly during the Ngo Dinh Diem regime, and its effects on U.S.-Vietnamese naval collaboration. Despite the Navy’s best professional efforts in both riverine and blue water operations, “the greatest drawback to the development of the navy and other South Vietnamese armed forces was the involvement of their officers in plots, coups, and other political intrigues.” The book also presents a clear account of the Tonkin Gulf incident – a classic example of how the fog of war can obscure the facts for even the participants most closely involved in the action.

Profusely illustrated by photographs and useful maps, The Approaching Storm also includes accounts of individuals involved in the events of the time. I was particularly interested in “Escape from Laos”, which tells the story of Navy Lieutenant Charles F. Klusmann, whose reconnaissance aircraft was shot down over central Laos in 1964. After almost three months of captivity, Lieutenant Klusmann and a number of others escaped from their Pathet Lao prison camp. After three days, Klusmann and one other escapee made it to friendly lines – one of the few American flyers to escape from captivity in Laos during the entire course of the war.

Like Navy Medicine in Vietnam, a previous volume in this series that I’ve blogged about, The Approaching Storm is an excellent brief account of one aspect of the Vietnam War – still perhaps the most controversial armed conflict in American history –  whose story is neither well-known nor well-understood. You can get a copy here, browse through it here, or find it in a library here.


Navy Medicine in Vietnam: Passage to Freedom to the Fall of Saigon

April 23, 2010

One of the goals of this blog is to review new Government publications as soon as we can, so people can find out about and, we hope, read them. Navy Medicine in Vietnam just hit my desk. It’s not a long book – around 52 pages. It provides an excellent overview of Navy medical activities in Vietnam from Passage to Freedom – the evacuation of Vietnamese from north to south after the 1954 Geneva Accords – to the collapse of South Vietnam in 1975. Along the way, there are brief descriptions of the work of hospitals,  hospital ships, Navy corpsmen, medevac, and more.

To me, the most fascinating parts of the book are the oral histories: the nurse in Saigon who came under fire during the coup against the Diem government, the grim recollections of another nurse on the staff of the navy Support Activity Hospital in Danang, and the amazingly modest statement of a corpsman who threw himself on a grenade (which amazingly did not detonate)to protect his patients, received a Congressional Medal of Honor and said, “It didn’t appear to me worthy of a general flying in and saying, ‘you’re a hero’.”

For sheer suspense, though, nothing tops “Dr. Dinsmore’s Souvenir”, a first-person account of a Navy surgeon who removed an unexploded 60mm mortar shell from the chest of a South Vietnamese soldier.  The X-ray of the patient has to be seen to be believed. Captain Dinsmore received the Navy Cross for this operation, but I wonder whether Engineman First Class John Lyons, who was the only other person in the operating room and safely detonated the mortar round afterward, got some recognition, too. It’s an amazing story.

You’ll find gripping reading, as well as an informative account of wartime medical activities, in Navy Medicine in Vietnam.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,357 other followers

%d bloggers like this: