Patrick Fleming

PT 109 by William Doyle

PT 109: An American Epic of War, Survival, and the Destiny of John F. Kennedy By William Doyle Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780062346582
Published: William Morrow - October 6th, 2015

William Doyle, author of numerous works focusing on American militaria, re-tells the story of PT 109 and the impact its saga had on JFK and America. Early in the South Pacific campaign of WWII, the United States is out-gunned and over-matched by the Japanese military. The U.S. has decided to make its stand, in order to protect its ally, Australia, in the Solomon Islands and at Guadalcanal. Intense fighting occurs on land and sea with the two opponents evenly matched, even though the U.S. has very poor aircraft and other equipment when compared to Imperial Japan. Into this mix is flung a Patrol Torpedo (PT) boat force. PT boats are just glorified large speed boats made out of wood and equipped with faulty torpedoes that malfunction about 75% of the time. This is the story of JFK as commander of PT 109.  His father, Joseph Kennedy Sr., has pulled strings to get the sickly JFK a combat command with an eye toward future Kennedy political ambitions, never imagining his son would be tested in a way not many other men of his age could endure. This is a great read for anyone, even those of us who think they know the story of PT 109 and JFK, as it gives a perspective as only 75 years of elapsed time can. – Patrick Fleming

Pacific by Simon Winchester

Simon Winchester delivers this seemingly eclectic narrative of ten incidents occurring in the Pacific which appear to be unrelated – but as he tells the back story on each incident the reader sees how inter-related they are. Winchester, with his sharp British wit, writes in a quick style making a compelling case for the pivot away from the Atlantic and to the Pacific by arguing that the United States (and Canada and Mexico to some degree) are really Pacific Rim nations and that the future interests of the U.S. lie with the Pacific and her people, including the Chinese.  From the birth of surfing and the California beach culture it spawned to the nuclear explosions on remote Pacific atolls to Australia and its emerging role to the potential for confrontation with an increasingly militarizing China, Winchester blends all 10 incidents together, providing some terrific insight into the history and future of the Pacific and why it matters to the United States. – Patrick Fleming

Two Books about WW2

The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942-1944 (The Pacific War Trilogy #2) By Ian W. Toll Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393080643
Availability: Not on our shelves currently | available to order
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 21st, 2015

Ian Toll and Jay Winik are veteran historians and excellent writers, each with a style that flows easily yet is supported by incredible research. These two books are a part of a new breed of historical scholarship which provides a complete picture of the early part of WWII, a period when the final outcome was far from decided. The Conquering Tide is the second part of a Pacific War trilogy by Toll which may remind readers of Rick Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy. Starting with the Guadalcanal Campaign and ending with the Marianas Campaign, Toll describes the incredibly difficult Pacific Theater and highlights the valor and blunders of both sides. This second part of the trilogy gives a clear picture of what the United States and its allies were facing in early 1942 in the South Pacific as they tried to stop the Japanese juggernaut, especially in light of the “Europe First” global strategy to combat the Axis Forces. The grand strategy of the opponents is clearly described by Toll, but he is at his best when narrating the thousands of smaller tactical encounters between the Japanese and American forces. Detailed maps indicate the grand strategy and remind us of the darkest hours of WWII. Jay Winik, on the other hand, uses the one-year format he first employed in April 1865: the Month that Saved America in his latest book, 1944: FDR and the Year that Changed History. The world we live in today was shaped by WWII, and 1944 was the pivotal point of that war. Hitler, Himmler, FDR, Hirohito, Stalin, Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, and all of the other supporting characters are brought to life in this narrative which places in context the momentous events of ’44, from the Nazi death camps through D-Day to the atomic bomb. Winik has an approach to historical narrative which is refreshing as he weaves the storyline through the actions of its characters. – Patrick Fleming

Other Books Mentioned in This Piece: 
The Liberation Trilogy Boxed Set: An Army at Dawn, The Day of Battle, The Guns at Last Light By Rick Atkinson Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781627790598
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - October 22nd, 2013

April 1865: The Month That Saved America By Jay Winik Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060899684
Availability: Not on our shelves currently | available to order
Published: Harper Perennial - August 15th, 2006