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Who Can Hold the Sea: The U.S. Navy in the Cold War 1945-1960

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A close-up, action-filled narrative about the crucial role the U.S. Navy played in the early years of the Cold War, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Fleet at Flood Tide This landmark account of the U.S. Navy in the Cold War, Who Can Hold the Sea, combines narrative history with scenes of stirring adventure on--and under--the high seas. In 1945, at the A close-up, action-filled narrative about the crucial role the U.S. Navy played in the early years of the Cold War, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Fleet at Flood Tide This landmark account of the U.S. Navy in the Cold War, Who Can Hold the Sea, combines narrative history with scenes of stirring adventure on--and under--the high seas. In 1945, at the end of World War II, the victorious Navy sends its sailors home and decommissions most of its warships. But this peaceful interlude is short-lived, as Stalin, America's former ally, makes aggressive moves in Europe and the Far East. Winston Churchill crystallizes the growing Communist threat by declaring the existence of the Iron Curtain, and the Truman Doctrine is set up to contain Communism by establishing U.S. military bases throughout the world. Set against this background of increasing Cold War hostility, Who Can Hold the Sea paints the dramatic rise of the Navy's crucial postwar role in a series of exciting episodes: - the tests of A-bombs dropped on warships at Bikini Island - the growing science of undersea warfare and invention of sonar - the Korean War as a deadly test of naval superiority - the growth of the modern Navy with its dramatic game-changers: cruisers fitted with surface-to-air missiles, and the invention of the nuclear submarine - lessons learned from the dramatic sinking of the submarine USS Cochino in the Norwegian Sea - the USS Nautilus's dangerous, first-ever cruise underneath the North Pole As in all of Hornfischer's work, the events unfold in riveting--and often surprising--detail. The story of the Cold War at sea is ultimately the story of America's victorious contest to protect the free world.


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A close-up, action-filled narrative about the crucial role the U.S. Navy played in the early years of the Cold War, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Fleet at Flood Tide This landmark account of the U.S. Navy in the Cold War, Who Can Hold the Sea, combines narrative history with scenes of stirring adventure on--and under--the high seas. In 1945, at the A close-up, action-filled narrative about the crucial role the U.S. Navy played in the early years of the Cold War, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Fleet at Flood Tide This landmark account of the U.S. Navy in the Cold War, Who Can Hold the Sea, combines narrative history with scenes of stirring adventure on--and under--the high seas. In 1945, at the end of World War II, the victorious Navy sends its sailors home and decommissions most of its warships. But this peaceful interlude is short-lived, as Stalin, America's former ally, makes aggressive moves in Europe and the Far East. Winston Churchill crystallizes the growing Communist threat by declaring the existence of the Iron Curtain, and the Truman Doctrine is set up to contain Communism by establishing U.S. military bases throughout the world. Set against this background of increasing Cold War hostility, Who Can Hold the Sea paints the dramatic rise of the Navy's crucial postwar role in a series of exciting episodes: - the tests of A-bombs dropped on warships at Bikini Island - the growing science of undersea warfare and invention of sonar - the Korean War as a deadly test of naval superiority - the growth of the modern Navy with its dramatic game-changers: cruisers fitted with surface-to-air missiles, and the invention of the nuclear submarine - lessons learned from the dramatic sinking of the submarine USS Cochino in the Norwegian Sea - the USS Nautilus's dangerous, first-ever cruise underneath the North Pole As in all of Hornfischer's work, the events unfold in riveting--and often surprising--detail. The story of the Cold War at sea is ultimately the story of America's victorious contest to protect the free world.

30 review for Who Can Hold the Sea: The U.S. Navy in the Cold War 1945-1960

  1. 4 out of 5

    PamG

    Who Can Hold the Sea – The U.S. Navy in the Cold War 1945-1960 by James D. Hornfischer is the first book that I have read by this author. The title describes what this non-fiction history book covers in the broad sense. However, it also gives insight into the people, politics, and policies of the times. This history narrative has the added bonus of action above and below the sea. As World War II ends, sailors go home and warships are decommissioned. However, aggressive moves by Stalin in Euro Who Can Hold the Sea – The U.S. Navy in the Cold War 1945-1960 by James D. Hornfischer is the first book that I have read by this author. The title describes what this non-fiction history book covers in the broad sense. However, it also gives insight into the people, politics, and policies of the times. This history narrative has the added bonus of action above and below the sea. As World War II ends, sailors go home and warships are decommissioned. However, aggressive moves by Stalin in Europe and the Far East make this a short time of calm. George Kennan, the number two man for the United States in Moscow, sends a telegram describing the Soviet Union’s ambitions, pathology, and more. It helps to shape the Truman administration’s actions in light of this new geopolitical threat. This book is not the dry text of typical histories. It is filled with facts, people, politics, policies, action, interactions, technological advances, and challenges. The author shows the many challenges faced by the United States and the U.S. Navy. The post war politics between the Army and the Navy was especially interesting. It’s something you don’t read about in traditional history books. The many challenges faced by the Navy were political, technical, and strategic. Additionally, if you think partisan activism and anger at the press is a recent phenomenon, you will know differently after you read this book. Overall, this is a very readable, enlightening, and educational history of the U.S. Navy during the early days of the Cold War. At the end are several images of important political and military personnel during this period as well as an extensive bibliography, image credits, and index. I highly recommend this book to those interested in history, naval history, the early years of the Cold War, and geopolitics. Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for May 03, 2022.

  2. 5 out of 5

    William Harris

    I am pleased and honored to have been provided by Random House with an ARC of James D. Hornfischer's last work, written even as he succumbed to the illness which took him far too young. It is entitled "Who Can Hold the Sea: The U.S. Navy in the Cold War 1945-1960," and it is a fitting capstone to his distinguished body of work, well known to any of you interested in twentieth century naval history. Hornfischer is perhaps best known for the book which first introduced me to his canon, "The Last S I am pleased and honored to have been provided by Random House with an ARC of James D. Hornfischer's last work, written even as he succumbed to the illness which took him far too young. It is entitled "Who Can Hold the Sea: The U.S. Navy in the Cold War 1945-1960," and it is a fitting capstone to his distinguished body of work, well known to any of you interested in twentieth century naval history. Hornfischer is perhaps best known for the book which first introduced me to his canon, "The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors," but that is far from being his only contribution to his field of study. In "Who Can Hold the Sea" he departs from the taut battle narratives which have distinguished him and takes on the massive technogical, strategic, diplomatic and inter-service rivalries which dominated the growth and development of U.S. naval power in the period between 1945 and 1960. I left the book somewhat exhausted by its breadth and the clear depth of the author's understanding of his materials, but feeling a new appreciation for the men and women who shaped the the modern U.S. Navy. Most importantly, and I cannot stress this enough, both Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower emerged from these pages as much more significant in their contributions and decision making as they presided over challenges ranging from the Korean War to the Suez Crisis and from the development of nuclear weapons and related naval developments, to include the new face of the American way of projecting power. This is must reading for anyone looking to understand the enormous changes in the U.S. Navy following World War II. It is a capstone to the legacy of excellence by which Hornfischer distinguished himself in both the depth of his research and the charm of his prose. There are few who are his equals.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    Why would someone be interested in reading a detailed history of naval operations the decade after WW II? Because, writes Hornfischer, “the geopolitics of the U.S. has been driven by maritime realities more than by any other force.” (214/6806) Much of the book deals with the rivalry between the U.S. Navy and the Soviet Union. It was only at sea, Hornfischer says, that the U.S. was superior to Moscow. (1900/6806) This is a great book for history buffs but would also be of interest to those who wan Why would someone be interested in reading a detailed history of naval operations the decade after WW II? Because, writes Hornfischer, “the geopolitics of the U.S. has been driven by maritime realities more than by any other force.” (214/6806) Much of the book deals with the rivalry between the U.S. Navy and the Soviet Union. It was only at sea, Hornfischer says, that the U.S. was superior to Moscow. (1900/6806) This is a great book for history buffs but would also be of interest to those who want to understand the current relationships between major nations. Many of the nations currently allied in causes formed those alliances as a result of WW II. Hornfischer's description of the developing situation in the USSR after WW II sounds much like what is happening today. I now understand how the concept developed that the U.S. should be responsible for the security of all mankind, the force needed to secure the freedom of the world. (1578/6806) Hornfischer writes well. What could be boring history is brought alive under his pen. I was caught up in his engaging account of the fire in the sub USS Cochino and the rescue action. The strange events around the death of Forrestal reads like a mystery novel. I had read about the testing of atomic bombs by Bikini but learned a great deal about how and why it was done. So much about radioactivity was unknown at the time great lengths were taken to understand its effects. We are taken through the Korean War, the Suez Canal crisis, the development of missiles, and the engaging trip of the USS Nautilus under the ice of the North Pole on its second attempt. This book is well written and interesting. I appreciate the information contained, presented in a readable way. I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Urey Patrick

    Often interesting - but often disjointed and rambling, fluctuating between anecdotal event narratives and broader influences and events. There are roughly three chapters devoted to the Marines in Korea - to on the Chosen Reservoir campaign. Two chapters on two submarines dispatched to the northern latitudes, one of which sunk after an onboard battery casualty. There is a short narrative off regarding the development of th Sidewinder missile. One chapter is titled Revolt of the Admirals - a semin Often interesting - but often disjointed and rambling, fluctuating between anecdotal event narratives and broader influences and events. There are roughly three chapters devoted to the Marines in Korea - to on the Chosen Reservoir campaign. Two chapters on two submarines dispatched to the northern latitudes, one of which sunk after an onboard battery casualty. There is a short narrative off regarding the development of th Sidewinder missile. One chapter is titled Revolt of the Admirals - a seminal event in the aftermath of the defense unification act and the bitter inter-service fighting that ensued, not to mention the mistaken policies of the Truman Administration that gave impetus to it all...but you don't learn a lot about the revolt of the admirals. And on top of it all, the book could use the services of a meticulous proof reader! There are missing words, duplicated sentences, mistaken names used, and weird transitions in mid-thought ... for example, referring to a CNO by name but in the next sentence referring to another, then back to the first one with no transition for the reader or notice that one succeeded the other and the interim event mentioned occurred years after the topic in discussion. General O.P Smith USMC commanding the Marines at Chosin is described as joining regiments with MacArthur's... who of course was Supreme Commander located in Japan and not personally commanding any regiments in Korea anywhere near Smith's Marines. It is disruptive for the reader. That said, the scattered historical moments selected and narrated by the author are interesting - the budget battles, the development of nuclear power and nuclear submarines, the Sidewinder, James Forrestal and the containment policy that evolved from George Kennan's "Long Memo"and more ... so worth reading, but not really what it is meant to be, I think.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Just like the title says, this is a history of the US Navy from 1945-1960. The rush to return all the sailors home, the increase of missions as the Cold War heated up, and the internal fights/scuffles over limited budgets. Why I started this book: The US Navy Professional Reading List introduced me to Hornfischer with his titles of The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour and The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pac Just like the title says, this is a history of the US Navy from 1945-1960. The rush to return all the sailors home, the increase of missions as the Cold War heated up, and the internal fights/scuffles over limited budgets. Why I started this book: The US Navy Professional Reading List introduced me to Hornfischer with his titles of The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour and The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944-1945. I was thrilled that he had written another book and was so eager to start it. Why I finished it: This whole book was so bittersweet because in the introduction, the reader is informed that Hornfischer knew that he was racing the clock and his illness with this book. His wife apologized that the ending was more abrupt than in his earlier works. Fascinating to see all the threads that Hornfischer traced and how they fit into the larger national and international dialog.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    Review of Uncorrected eBook Proof As World War II ended, peace was a fragile commodity as the Communist threat grew and Joseph Stalin moved aggressively to occupy eastern European states and to establish Soviet-aligned governments. An absorbing, introspective, and detailed look at the United States Navy during the cold war with the Soviet Union. With air power rapidly becoming a primary focus for the military, there was a struggle for the Navy to remain relevant even as the decision-makers believ Review of Uncorrected eBook Proof As World War II ended, peace was a fragile commodity as the Communist threat grew and Joseph Stalin moved aggressively to occupy eastern European states and to establish Soviet-aligned governments. An absorbing, introspective, and detailed look at the United States Navy during the cold war with the Soviet Union. With air power rapidly becoming a primary focus for the military, there was a struggle for the Navy to remain relevant even as the decision-makers believed ships were obsolete. Filled with intriguing facts and often little-known information, the author expertly weaves the challenges faced by military and civilian leaders in an emerging superpower struggle defined by strategy, a rapidly-growing technology, and diplomacy that directly affected the Navy during the cold war. The battlefields were many . . . political, inter-service, technological, strategic . . . yet as the author details the challenges facing the United States Navy in the aftermath of World War II, readers will find the book eminently readable and informative. Highly recommended. I received a free copy of this eBook from Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam and NetGalley #WhoCanHoldtheSea #NetGalley

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jo Anne

    Although I served in the military during the Vietnam war, I certainly don't consider myself to be someone who reads many books focused on the military, although I have a particular interest in the Pacific theater during WWII. I was fascinated by Mr. Hornfisher's book because it addressed the Cold War period following WWII at a level of detail, both politically and militarily, that, at least for me, far exceeds anything that I have read. The infighting between service branches that he provides rema Although I served in the military during the Vietnam war, I certainly don't consider myself to be someone who reads many books focused on the military, although I have a particular interest in the Pacific theater during WWII. I was fascinated by Mr. Hornfisher's book because it addressed the Cold War period following WWII at a level of detail, both politically and militarily, that, at least for me, far exceeds anything that I have read. The infighting between service branches that he provides remarkable insights into was set out in a way that allowed the reader to understand and identify the winners and losers and their tactics and strategies. The decisions made over that 20-30 year period but especially in the 1940s - 1950's, were crucial for our country and for the world and as the book chronicles, most of those decisions were made appropriately and even wisely, thanks in large part to the extraordinary leaders of that time in both the civilian and military spheres. The book is not a long read but it is a true learning experience. A must read!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Romero

    This remarkable work tells of the Navy in the Cold War. There is history, and adventure, on and under the water. In 1945, at the end of WWII, the Navy is sending its soldiers home and decommissions most of its warships. And then, Stalin, a former ally, begins to make moves in Europe leading Churchill, worried about the Communists, to declare an iron curtain and the U.S. set out to establish military bases all over the world. The Navy played a crucial role in that time of increasing tensions. Thing This remarkable work tells of the Navy in the Cold War. There is history, and adventure, on and under the water. In 1945, at the end of WWII, the Navy is sending its soldiers home and decommissions most of its warships. And then, Stalin, a former ally, begins to make moves in Europe leading Churchill, worried about the Communists, to declare an iron curtain and the U.S. set out to establish military bases all over the world. The Navy played a crucial role in that time of increasing tensions. Things were happening and they were at the forefront. The A-bomb tests, the science behind waging war and sonar, and the underwater battles with the submarine. So much research went into this book. All of his books. He passed away writing this book. If you are interested in Naval History, this is the book for you! NetGalley/ May 3rd, 2022 by Bantam

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    This has been very slow reading for me because it is not remotely fiction. It is a history of the Navy from the later years of World War II through the Cold War. I find that I can’t sit and read history the way I do fiction. I have to study it while reading and can only digest a chapter at a time. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who would want the familiarity it brings to this long and dramatic period in American history, particularly in light with what appears to be happening in ou This has been very slow reading for me because it is not remotely fiction. It is a history of the Navy from the later years of World War II through the Cold War. I find that I can’t sit and read history the way I do fiction. I have to study it while reading and can only digest a chapter at a time. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who would want the familiarity it brings to this long and dramatic period in American history, particularly in light with what appears to be happening in our world today. Many thanks to Net Galley and Random House for allowing me the privilege of reading an ARC for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    CASPER HILEMAN

    Mr. Hornfischer applies his historical chops to a new and just as fascinating topic. The cold war duel between the United States Navy and her Soviet adversaries. Either on deterrence patrols, circumnavigating the globe underwater, or tapping underwater cables Mr. Hornfischer educates us about the very tense very real warriors who helped prevent Soviet domination and the crushing of the free world. I only wish Mr. Hornfischer was still with us to produce great new material as well as to find grea Mr. Hornfischer applies his historical chops to a new and just as fascinating topic. The cold war duel between the United States Navy and her Soviet adversaries. Either on deterrence patrols, circumnavigating the globe underwater, or tapping underwater cables Mr. Hornfischer educates us about the very tense very real warriors who helped prevent Soviet domination and the crushing of the free world. I only wish Mr. Hornfischer was still with us to produce great new material as well as to find great new literary talent as an agent.

  11. 4 out of 5

    James

    Well written and researched book concerning US Navel power from the 1940s through the 60s. At times while reading I thought I felt the ships' engines vibrating through the deck. What really floated my boat (sorry) were the discussions about the Navy's part in the Korean War, the changeover from diesel to nuclear power and the North Pole expeditions. The strategic issues discussed here are relevant to the current strategic issues concerning Ukraine. Well written and researched book concerning US Navel power from the 1940s through the 60s. At times while reading I thought I felt the ships' engines vibrating through the deck. What really floated my boat (sorry) were the discussions about the Navy's part in the Korean War, the changeover from diesel to nuclear power and the North Pole expeditions. The strategic issues discussed here are relevant to the current strategic issues concerning Ukraine.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Johnson

    The late James Hornfischer was a national treasure as an inspired and supremely gifted historian. This is a fine chronicle of the post World War II Navy. Inter service maneuvering during the rapid post war drawdowns, Revolt of the Admirals, Korea, Suez and the dawn of our Navy’s nuclear age…it’s all there.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chris Wood

    I found this a helpful overview of post-WW2 naval development. The author provides a cursory review of the major events in the 15 years following the end of WW2. Particularly of interest to me was the relationship that the nuclear payload and its transport mechanisms played in shaping the development of the modern fleet; namely, submarines.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Suzette

    This is a wonderful story for those who love military history. It pays homage to the Navy for all that it has achieved and all it has missed the mark on. The author is very proficient at explaining things to the reader in a way that they can understand without having a military background. It allows you to get a vivid visual picture of what might have been occurring as if you were gazing on the scene.

  15. 5 out of 5

    John

    A decent book but I found a great amount of the content was related to the ground war of the Korean Conflict and Vietnam. I guess based on the title I was expecting more Naval content.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Burnsie63

  17. 5 out of 5

    daniel watters

  18. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Kunde

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rod

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joe Bax

  21. 4 out of 5

    Grouchy Historian

  22. 5 out of 5

    Peter Knudsen

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chris Hartley

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jay Williams

  25. 5 out of 5

    Judy

  26. 5 out of 5

    cynthia telage

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marce Scarbrough

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  30. 5 out of 5

    Wniehoff

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