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Sea Hawks: With the P.T. Boats at War Hardcover – June 1, 1999

3.0 out of 5 stars 2 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

If not as elegantly written as John F, Kennedy's PT 109, this no-frills tale of boats and men at war gives a clear account of life aboard the dangerous fighting boats of the Pacific war. Hoagland was 24 in 1940, a college graduate convinced that the U.S. would not long remain at peace. He joined the U.S. Navy as an officer candidate and, once commissioned, was assigned to a destroyer. Finding convoy work and participation in the North African invasion too tame, Hoagland volunteered for PT boats. The rest of his war was spent in the Pacific as a boat captain, then as a squadron commander. He participated in all the missions of the "plywood navy," strafing shore defenses, stalking barges, rescuing downed airmen. Kamikaze pilots found PT boats attractive targets, and small arms fire posed a mortal risk to laminated wooden hulls full of gasoline and high explosives. Hoagland earned a silver star for leading a mission that destroyed a Japanese PT base. As a squadron commander, he rode the lead boat into action as a matter of course. Hoagland's narrative is matter-of-fact, with neither retrospective swagger nor false modesty. He tells tales of other PT men, some he served with and some that are just part PT lore. He leaves no doubt of his conviction that the PT boats and their volunteer crews belonged to the navy's elite. We were "aggressive, determined, innovative and independent." His book offers a portrait of the ideal of an American citizen officer: learning his craft on the job, leading by skill and example, becoming a warrior while remaining decent and honorable. (Aug.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Mining the popularity of World War II memoirs, Hoagland's literary debut offers a rather flat and uninspiring personal record of his own wartime experiences in the U.S. Navy serving aboard a destroyer in the Atlantic and commanding PT boats in the Pacific. There is much activity here, but little drama, less humor, and no spark. Hoagland is a former naval officer whose PT boat exploits would be intense and exciting if his narrative were not so dull and self-promotional. His descriptions of PT boat tactics and operations against Japanese warships, barges, and shore installations are clear and realistic, and his cocky view of war is obvious. However, this book, with its 50-year hindsight, comes across as a transparent exercise in cavalier self-image, with the author throwing a lot of credit in his own direction. Best are his sketches of kamikaze attacks, rescues of downed pilots, and shore bombardment of enemy-held islands in the Philippines. Otherwise, this is a forgettable memoir.ACol. William D. Bushnell, USMC (ret.), Brunswick, ME
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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