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Publisher's Summary

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. 

©2022 James D. Hornfischer (P)2022 Random House Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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James D. Hornfisher's last work

A YouTuber suggested Hornfisher on his video one day and I gave him a listen. I really enjoyed it, saddened by his passing I eagerly awaited this book. it doesn't disappoint. It's a much larger review of the US struggle with nuclear policy and post World War II power vacuums. I really enjoyed the full picture view and the fact it wasn't just all Navy, it was the political climate, the inner service fighting, and all the allied power struggles and decision making that went along with it. I'm going to miss his writing.

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Great detail - poorly narrated

James Hornfischer's detailed research reveals much about the internecine rivalry between the Navy and the Army/USAF immediately after the war. I greatly enjoyed learning more about the individuals involved in the decisions regarding sharing nuclear weapons technology.

It is too bad that the narration is so robotic as it could add to the book rather than take away so much of the pleasure. (e.g. "AR-jent-shee-A" is NOT Argentina" !!)