by Catherine Musemeche ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 23, 2022
Overdue acknowledgment of an important figure in American military history.
In war, sometimes the most important weapons are information and expertise, as this biography of a remarkable woman demonstrates.
Musemeche, a veteran pediatric surgeon, recounts the career of Mary Sears (1905-1997), who advanced the science of oceanography while making critical contributions to the war effort. Originally a marine biologist specializing in plankton, after Pearl Harbor, she was sent to the Oceanographic Unit at the Hydrographic Office of the Navy. Though she was meant to be a “placeholder for a man” who had enlisted, her abilities soon became apparent. One of her first projects dealt with studying undersea temperatures, which were especially significant for submarines. As she gathered a (mostly female) team around her, the focus shifted to providing maps for amphibious assaults on Japanese-held islands. The near-disastrous landing on Tarawa had underlined the need for better intelligence, especially about hazards like tides, reefs, waves, and weather. Sometimes, information was available in archives and had to be painstakingly excavated. Ironically, Japanese fishing surveys often turned out to be useful, but otherwise, charts had to be developed from observations of a target. Musemeche notes that Sears had a talent for sifting through huge amounts of raw information to find the important parts. In an era when female scientists had to battle for credibility, the value of her work was quickly recognized, to the point that keeping up with the demand for data and information was a constant strain. There is no telling how many lives were saved due to her work, but Adm. Chester Nimitz, for one, said that the material from Sears’ unit was essential. No doubt the men on the front lines would have agreed. Musemeche tells the story with a sense of restraint that fits the subject, and she notes that a few years after Sears died, the Navy named a new oceanographic survey ship the USNS Mary Sears—a fitting tribute to someone who made a difference.Overdue acknowledgment of an important figure in American military history.
Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022
Page Count: 320
Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022
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by Robert Greene ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 1998
If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.
The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.
Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998
Page Count: 430
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998
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BOOK TO SCREEN
by Tom Clavin ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 21, 2020
Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.
Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.
The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.
Pub Date: April 21, 2020
Page Count: 400
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020
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