A SAILOR'S ADMIRAL: A Biography of William F. Halsey by James M. Merrill

A SAILOR'S ADMIRAL: A Biography of William F. Halsey

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An admiring biography of an authentic old salt, the descendant of sea captains and Navy men who commanded one of the largest fleets in WW II and drew the credit and condemnation for American fortunes in the Pacific naval theater. Admiral Halsey was known for ""slapdash tactics"" but the effect, Merrill emphasizes, was to keep the Japanese off guard and unable to trap the US Navy on the basis of fixed patterns of actions. Halsey's aggressiveness, demonstrated in the Marshall and Solomon Islands as well as at Guadalcanal, put constant pressure on Halsey's superior, Chester Nimitz, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to accelerate attacks on the Japanese. The second reason Halsey was tagged ""Bull"" stemmed from his turn-of-the-century jingoism; he used to urge his men on with the slogan, ""These yellow bastards are no supermen."" The military agressiveness amounted to rashness when Halsey was decoyed into dividing his fleet in the Philippines in 1944, and when he sailed directly into two typhoons in rapid succession. While Merrill foregoes strategic analysis, he stresses the contribution Halsey made in promoting the use of aircraft carriers and insisting on their deployment only in open waters. Halsey also bitterly opposed the use of the A-bomb against a defeated Japan, but the book suggests that this was partly because the bomb cheated him out of his last offensive. Little can be learned about the Admiral's participation in the infights between Nimitz and Douglas MacArthur, except that he got along splendidly with the Army chief. Yet, intended as the first full-length biography of Halsey and written for laymen, the book jovially fulfills its purpose.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1976
Publisher: T. Y. Crowell