Cressman delivers a stunning scholarly reference
Finally, at long last a well written, readable, detailed chronology of the U.S Navy's efforts in the Second World War. Robert Cressman has written what everyone has been waiting for over four decades; The 'Official' Chronology of the USN in WWII. At first glance one can appreciate the amount of information contained within this large volume. A closer examination reveals not only a work of scholarly proportion but of an infinately more readable style than any previous available. Mr. Cressman has dug into the deepest corners of information sources to reveal as much detail as any information hungry historian could dream of. The value of this book however, lies even more in the well worded entries that will not bore or condescend the average reader. Taking the time to detail the most minute of events, Cressman gives every vessel its long overdue attention. An example of the detail can be picked at random, for example: 8 June 1942 Pacific. Tug Vireo (At 144) is damaged by grounding, Midway. Atlantic. British armed merchant cruiser HMS Alcantara embarks survivors from damaged U.S. freighter George Cylmer; attempts to scuttle the freighter prove futile and Alcantara must leave on 12 June with the Amerian ship still stubbornly afloat. This kind of attention to the everyday events make the story of WWII real and still relevant to those of us who can only look to history and historians for the stories of our departed heroes. Photo selection and placement deserve mention as well. Mr. Cressman chose photos relevant to the text as well as many rarely seen shots. Many of the photos give a soldiers/sailors persepctive and not just static aerial shots of famous captial ships. If this book has one failing it is the lack of an index, even by ship name. This failing is not that of Mr. Cressman however, but rather that of the Naval Institue. The USNI has in recent years produced some real turkeys and should look more wisely to their selecting of authors and materials. This has been one of the few bright shining stars of thier recent (1998-2000) offerings. Mr. Cressman deserves the highest praise and Kudos for a job well done on a very daunting task that has been failed upon by others until now.
February 21, 2000