By Steve and Yogi Kaufman, Thomasson-Grant, Inc.,
Charlottesville, VA 160 pages. Forward by Tom Clancy.
The Chinese proverb, “one picture is worth more than 10,000 words” aptly fits the description of this color-photo treatise. It is a fine tribute to our present submarine force and to the men and women who man and support the submarines. The framing, lighting, color quality and definitive exposures surpass any still-photographers’ works this reviewer has seen.
Many volumes have been written about the exploits of captains, their submarines and crews. Both world wars have been covered by fiction and non-fiction authors and photographers, depicting life aboard most sub types since the days of the “pigboat.” None have brought home to the reader with more realism and accuracy the modem submariner, as shown in this elegant work. The slices of life featured by this father and son team point up their creative talents and the well planned and directed “shoots” undertaken.
With 30 years of sub service under his belt, Vice Admiral Robert Y. “Yogi” Kaufman, USN(Ret.) was able to tap navy contacts heretofore untouched, so the public could see firsthand what life is like as a submariner. Now a prolific natural history photographer, he and his son Steve, an outdoors photographer, took one year and thousands of shots to produce the dramatic results in this book.
Photo sessions take the reader across the Atlantic to bases in Holy Loch and La Maddalena; to New London and Groton; south to Norfolk, Charleston and Kings Bay; to homeports in San Diego and Pearl Harbor; and up the west coast to the Trident facility in Bangor. Major sections of the book deal with “Attack Subs” and “Missile Subs.” The mix of exterior and interior shots is well balanced. Other visuals highlight DSRVs, TACAMO, Diver Special Ops, VLF Station, Maryland, Explosive Handling Wharf and Magnetic Silencing Facility, Bangor, and one of our remaining diesel boats, USS Blueback.
The text has been written in the first person and is interspersed with the photographic shots. You’ll read the reflections by a CO, XO, COB, Torpedoman, Quartermaster, Sonarman, Weapons Officer, Cook and others. Their observations make for interesting and informative reading. In his introduction, Yogi Kaufman relates how he came to choose a career in the Navy. It boiled down to seeing three navy films: “Flirtation Walk,” “Shipmates Forever” and “Navy Blue and Gold.” If the Chinese proverb about a picture being worth 10,000 words is correct, the Submarine Service will reap many a future recruiting benefit. This book should prove to be the inducement for a lot of young men to join the ranks, as were those Hollywood features for the Admiral.
With all those extra shots Yogi, how about a sequel?
by Homer H. Hickman, Jr.
Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD
This narrative description of the U-Boat war off the East Coast of America in 1942 is told in a fast moving style that captures the essence of the battle from all points of view. Mr. Hickman has traced the plan and the execution of Admiral Doenitz’s effective interdiction of the vital sea lanes along the east coast of North America and the Gulf of Mexico in such a manner as to put the reader right into the fray. His exhaustive research into the records kept by all parties involved is evidenced by the detail of the encounters between the U-Boats and their victims and between the U-Boats and their opposition. Much to the joy of the German submarine crews and the High Command, the opposition was found to be nil in the earlier stages of this daring war carried out by a handful of submarines, in an arena of seemingly unending targets.
The reader finds himself engulfed in the emotion of the encounters, feeling the exhileration of the U-Boat commanders as they managed to attack and sink ship after ship, by torpedo and gunfire, and come away unscathed; and also feeling the frustration of the U. S. Navy and Coast Guard officers and men who were unable to stop the destruction of our merchant fleet and the allied ships which sailed the coastal waters. One finds himself at once in the cramped spaces of the U-Boat calculating the attack and on the bridge of a small but gallant Coast Guard cutter, battling the unrelenting seas in an all but futile attempt to locate the enemy, lurking below.
This is the story of those ships at sea; the submarines bent on destruction of the shipping so vital to the allied war effort, and the American and British counterforce, such as it was. It is the story of the men who manned those ships, on both sides of the contest. And it is the story of the leaders who sent the combatants to sea to fight the battle. The author has not only searched the records of this period, to bring the facts to light, but he has also interviewed many of the actual participants from the admirals to the radiomen, from the seamen to the masters of the ships that were the victims of the relentless undersea menace, some of whose operators were also interviewed. The politics of war are shown as well as the battles. One witnesses, through the telling of this history, the frustration of Rear Admiral Adolphus Andrews as he was given a job to do with few assets with which to carry it out. But we also see the determination of this same admiral to fight for the forces necessary and the final victory that comes when the forces are eventually brought to bear.
For some, this saga of the war at sea, the ships, the names, the locations such as Hatteras, will stir memories of that war and their own experiences. For others, it will provide a vivid history of the havoc wrought by the U-Boat and tragic loss of ship and life that resulted during this period in the ‘American Shooting Gallery’.
G.L. Graveson, Jr.