Sea Cobra: Admiral Halsey's Task Force and the Great Pacific Typhoon

Buckner F. Melton, Jr., Author
Buckner F. Melton, Jr., Author Lyons $24.95 (318p) ISBN 978-1-59228-978-3
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The ripple of interest in the typhoon that struck the U.S. Third Fleet in December 1944, sinking three destroyers and drowning 800 sailors, swells onward in this absorbing naval adventure saga. Historian Melton (Aaron Burr ) paints a wider canvas than do Bob Drury and Tom Clavin in Halsey's Typhoon (reviewed Oct. 9). Like them, he regales readers with firsthand recollections of the shrieking winds and titanic waves that battered ships to pieces, the ordeal of survivors besieged by thirst and sharks, and the heroism of sailors who rescued them in mountainous seas. He recounts at length the subsequent navy inquiry into the performance of meteorologists, Adm. William Halsey and Cmdr. James Marks of the sunken destroyer Hull , who are pilloried by Drury and Clavin but largely exonerated here. Melton pads out the story with a blow-by-blow of the preceding Battle of Leyte Gulf, an account of another typhoon Halsey sailed the Third Fleet into in 1945, and a chapter on Japanese kamikazes. Melton's prose can be purplish—"The beast was still growing in the heart of the sea... feeding on the heat of the water as if it were mother's milk"—but when the storm breaks, he settles down to a straightforward, gripping narrative. Photos. (Mar.)

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