This is more than a WW2 memoir. it's a beautifully written account of a young man's physical and metaphorical journey to maturity against the background of the war that took him from his ranch through just about every major carrier action of the war in Pacific.
I was not surprised to read that, after the war, Kernan gained a PhD in English Lit and became a respected academic.The cadence of his prose and his choice of apposite vocabulary combines with his clear recall of events and emotions to make the book vivid both vivid and engaging.
I particularly liked his description of the return of the USS Enterprise to Pearl Harbour just after the Japanese attack, and of air operations over Tarawa in 1943 - especially his account of the subsequent crude demands of the reporter to know the full story of Butch O'Hare's death, the moment that Kernan's plane had made a perilous night landing on the Enterprise with a wounded radar operator.
He points up the insurmountable barrier that existed between enlisted men such as himself and the officers under whom he served: his word for the gulf is "medieval".
Kernan writes sparingly, but all the better for it. Commenting on on a coach at Flight Training School, he says "His faith in the uniformity of nature was as absolute as it was unwarranted." It captures the man's character simply and perfectly.
This is a quiet memoir, narrated with feeling and without bombast, and without a doubt one of the very best and most enlightening WW2 eye-witness accounts I have read.