SIGNAL 250! by A.C.M. Azoy


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A blithely historical recounting of naval affairs off-shore of Santiago, Cuba, during July 1898, Signal 250! tells of the defeat of the Cuban navy. They lost every ship they had; we lost none. Author Azoy does not take the view that the whole business was an utter moral disaster. As he tells us, the Spanish-American War has been ""cynically compared to an absent-minded musical comedy"" and described as a ""splendid little war"". One feels, reading this book, as if one were unhappily riding toward Havana on one of Dewey's shells, or rather into the admirable but outclassed Cuban fleet. The battle off Santiago was the great demonstration of United States naval power as opposed to land forces. If there is one thing really disturbing about Signal 250! it is that the author doesn't violently say yes or no about our position there, but instead pats the U.S. Navy on the back for its seamanship. His vigorous fence-stting makes easy reading, with vivid forays into the backgrounds of central officers concerned with manipulating the war, but his professional pride over licking Spain is a bit moldy. (Signal 250! was a pennant sign meaning the Spanish fleet was coming.) When the battle happens, though, it's exciting.

Pub Date: April 13th, 1964
Publisher: McKay