I’m writing a thriller about an American Naval Cruiser in battle. Wouldn’t you think it’d be easy to find information about battleships? There’s Janes, FAS–a whole long list of sources I’ve listed here. True. They give an overview, but when it comes to the real life of Cruisers, one of the oldest warships in the American flotilla–there’s not much. These workhorses of the US Navy, designed to protect our Carriers but able to stand alone, have not been in a real Naval battle since WWII. That’s 1945. Cruisers and Battle Cruisers, written in 2004 by Eric Osborne, does a good job but can’t address the technological improvements that make our current Navy modern–Aegis, SPY, IFF, Illuminators, you get the picture. For more current information, you’ll have to find a friendly neighborhood Naval Cruiser who will let you wander their halls and chat with their sailors.
Like I did.
Turns out, historic fiction is the best source of information on the Real Life of Cruisers. The genre, historic fiction, pledges to be as historically accurate as possible while incorporating characters, drama, plot, setting and the other mechanics of fiction that make it more palatable than the droll, numbness of facts. A wonderful Captain on the Cruiser I toured recommended several fiction books:
by James D. Hornfischer–about the remarkable two-and-a-half-hour WWII sea battle off Samar in which American sailors rose to the impossible challenge of beating back an overwhelming force of Japanese battleships and cruisers.
by Adm. Sandy Woodward–an autobiographical memoir of this Brit’s fight in the Falklands. Ironically, that is the only time a Cruiser has been destroyed by a nuclear powered submarine
by Larry Bond–written in 1989, but Bond crafts the story of our modern military at war using all the techno-improvements available at that time–pre-Aegis, unfortunately. I would have liked to see how the Aegis improvements perform under full-scale attack conditions. So far, all the Naval strategists know is that it is 99.9% effective in simulations.
The Good Shepherd
by CS Forester–a classic of Naval literature covering 48 hours on a WWII American destroyer during the time when German submarine packs had the upper hand. While this isn’t about a Cruiser, I’m told it is an excellent characterization of what sailors go through emotionally as well as physically living life on the edge of war.
Do you have any suggestions? Add a comment below.
Here’s my review of…
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I bought this book to provide background information for a novel I’m writing. Being historic in part, I wanted real-life experiences of Cruisers in action to share with my readers. Such stories were hard to find until I stumbled over Eric Osborne’s book. Great background. Fascinating historic information on the ‘workhorse of the world’s Navies’. Nothing on the updates now going on with some of the oldest cruisers, and he erroneously prophesied that the US Navy would begin retiring the Ticonderoga Class Cruisers, but everything else was spot on and quite readable even for the armchair enthusiast.
Anyone out there serve on one?