Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning in Lithia, Florida, on Wednesday, May 4, 2022. It is a warm, humid day here in the Tampa Bay area. Currently, the temperature is 79°F (26°C) under partly sunny skies. With humidity at 82% and the wind blowing from the east at 2 MPH (3 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 78°F (26°C). Today’s forecast is a reminder that the rainy season is upon us; thunderstorms will move through the area during the day, and the high will be 90°F. Tonight, skies will be partly cloudy. The low will be 68°F (20°C).
Yesterday we also had thunderstorms as per the forecast, but luckily, they bloomed rather late; I think we had one boomer pass through FishHawk Ranch between 7 and 8 PM. There was a bit of “sound and fury” from lightning and thunder, but due to the lateness of the hour – or the speed of its transit through this part of Hillsborough County – it didn’t last long. I still turned off my computer – which I still have not paid off – just to be on the safe side, though.
My package with my copy of Who Can Hold the Sea: The U.S. Navy in the Cold War 1945-1960, James D. Hornfischer’s final work of naval history, arrived at 7:01 PM Eastern, or around the time when that thunderstorm was in the neighborhood. Usually, Amazon Prime deliveries arrive between 2 and 5 PM, but I guess the bad weather affected Seffner – which is to the north of Lithia – and Hillsborough County roads from there to here, so the delivery was made later than usual. The last thing I did before shutting down the PC for the night was to check on my order status; when I went to the front door to retrieve it, the Caregiver told me she had already brought it inside and placed it on the dining room table.
Here’s the book’s dust jacket blurb from the publisher:
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
“James D. Hornfischer, the dean of American naval historians, has written a book of dizzying sweep and uncommon ambition.”—Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers
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 that include the controversial tests of the A-bombs that were dropped on warships at Bikini Island; the invention of sonar and the developing science of undersea warfare; the Navy’s leading part in key battles of the Korean War; the dramatic sinking of the submarine USS Cochino in the Norwegian Sea; the invention of the nuclear submarine and the dangerous, first-ever cruise of the USS Nautilus under the North Pole; and the growth of the modern Navy with technological breakthroughs such as massive aircraft carriers, and cruisers fitted with surface-to-air missiles.
As in all of Hornfischer’s works, the events unfold in riveting detail. The story of the Cold War at sea is ultimately the story of America’s victorious contest to protect the free world.
Because I received my copy so late in the day, I didn’t go to my usual reading spot in the living room – which is not the same location that I have dubbed the Common Room – and start reading Who Can Hold the Sea. I did read the preface by Sharon Hornfischer, the author’s widow, who tells readers that her husband managed to finish the manuscript even though he was diagnosed with an inoperable glioblastoma brain tumor in early 2020, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic hit our shores. (James Hornfischer died on June 2, 2021 at his home in San Antonio, Texas, at the age of 55.)
I also browsed through the first chapter just to get a feel for how the book will flow and how detailed it will be. I already know that it won’t be as detailed as the other books by Hornfischer that I already have in my library; most of his previous works focused on specific events that took place between December 7, 1941 and September 2, 1945, and they all deal with America’s war in the Pacific.
Who Can Hold the Sea covers a 15-year span – 1945 through 1960 – and tells a story that took place around the world; one of the things I managed to read last night was Hornfischer’s reminder to the reader that despite our habit of talking about the “seven seas,” there’s only one world ocean that’s artificially divided by us humans. Compared to Neptune’s Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal, Who Can Hold the Sea is a sprawling saga that takes us from the nuclear bomb tests at Bikini Atoll (1946) to the halls of power in Washington, DC (the “Admirals’ Revolt” of 1949, or the creation of the nuclear Navy around that same time), to the waters off Korea and the arctic expanses near the Soviet Union’s northern coasts.
I will probably read more from the book once the thunderstorms arrive and force me to turn off my Lenovo All-in-One to avoid losing it to errant lightning strikes.
Today is also, thanks to a tradition that started 11 years ago, Star Wars Day.
Yes, Dear Reader, it’s “May the 4th Be with You” Day, which, according to Wikipedia, is “an informal commemorative day observed annually on May 4 to celebrate the Star Wars media franchise created by founder and former chairman and CEO of Lucasfilm, George Lucas.”
The phrase “May the 4th Be with You” – a pun based on a line that recurs throughout the Star Wars franchise (“May the Force be with you…”) – is far older than that, but since 2011 – the last year that Lucas was President and CEO of Lucasfilm – it has become a widespread (if not official) commemorative day for Star Wars fans, especially on social media.
If it weren’t for the oh-so-dismal forecast, I would watch one of the 11 films in the Star Wars franchise this afternoon. I’d choose Star Wars: A New Hope, aka the original Star Wars, aka Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Of the nine Skywalker Saga films, it’s still the only one that can be enjoyed on its own as a complete movie-watching experience. There are also the two A Star Wars Story anthology films, Rogue One and Solo, as possible alternatives to A New Hope.
Right now, the radar images don’t show any thunderstorms in the area – my Weather app indicates there is a large mass of severe weather off the coast near Miami, but that’s on the other side (the Atlantic coast) of the state. However, lifelong experience has taught me that heat, humidity, and Florida’s geography all play a role in the sudden formation of thunderstorm cells. I am not going to risk losing a computer – I can watch my Star Wars films on Movies Anywhere if I choose – or my 4K UHD set just because it is Star Wars Day.
Maybe tonight, though!
Anyway, other than the fact that I honestly hate my phone – it’s over five years old and needs either a new battery or a total replacement – because it is not working well lately, I don’t have much else to report. So, until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.
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