Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Book Look: The Enterprise, America's Fightingest Ship
Barrett Tillman has written over forty non-fiction books about World War II, with his main focus being the aerial war and the War in the Pacific. His new volume, Enterprise, America's Fightingest Ship and the Men Who Helped Win World War II, recreates the role of the carrier Enterprise from her construction through her many battles, her repairs, and her eventual decomissioning. A new Enterprise is now at sea, bearing the name of the most-decorated ship of World War II. My father served aboard the Enterprise, and as I visited him last week, he helped me with terms and fact-checking. I was a little surprised that he had not been interviewed. Nevertheless, I found the book interesting, fact-filled, and written with the stern face of a man familiar with war. Though hundreds of lives were lost, Tillman presents the facts. He may have a comment or two from buddies or relatives of the sailor/aviator who died, but he does not go into heart-wrenching pathos. How could he? This is a story of war and heroism. Lives were lost. That cannot be changed. I was very interested in the sub-cultures aboard the Enterprise, from flight deck to maintenance to the men who flew off the deck, lucky to be alive and return to the ship after a run. The pilots faced friendly fire and flack from their own ships as well as an enemy with determination. Tillman's research to give names and faces to that enemy is another strong point of this book. For historians, World War II buffs, and the families of the men who served, "Enterprise, the fightingest ship" is a reading journey well worth taking.