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The Quiet Warrior: A Biography of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance (Classics of Naval Literature)
 
 

The Quiet Warrior: A Biography of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance (Classics of Naval Literature) [Kindle Edition]

Thomas B. Buell , John B. Lundstrom
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Regarded as the standard biography of World War II naval hero Adm. Raymond A. Spruance, this work is now available in trade paperback for the first time. Spruance, victor of the battles of Midway and the Philippine Sea and commander of the Fifth Fleet in the invasions of the Gilberts, the Marshalls, the Marianas, and Okinawa, is one of the towering figures in American naval history. Yet his reserved, cerebral personality did not make good copy for correspondents, and until the publication of The Quiet Warrior he remained an elusive figure. Thomas Buell has succeeded in evoking the nature of the man as well as recording the achievements of the admiral in this brilliant biography, which won the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement the year of its publication.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3037 KB
  • Print Length: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press; Reissue edition (31 July 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C4GUWTC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #121,964 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A neglected, forgotten naval hero. 7 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I was perplexed at the lack of available information on Admiral Spruance, considering the astonishing list of accomplishments: lieutenant during Teddy Roosevelt's "Great White Fleet" world tour, commanded Halsey's cruiser escorts for Jimmy Doolittle's raid on Tokyo, tactical (and decisive) command during the Battle of Midway, Nimitz's Shief of Staff, Commander of the US Fifth Fleet (the largest, most powerful battle fleet in the history of the world) including Iwo Jima, Saipan, Guam and Okinawa, President of the Naval War College and Ambassador to the Phillippines. Buell presents a good account of his life and career without delving into the psychological aspect (including a somewhat troubled relationship with his son, a WWII submarine commander). I believe this to be an important work for any serious amateur historian. Nimitz and Halsey may receive more name recognition, but Admiral Spruance's tactical command at Midway did more to turn the tide of the Pacific War than any other single commander. While many books have been written concerning Midway, this is the only book I have found that tells the story from Spruance's point of view.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Calm,Courageous,and Deliberate! 9 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Raymond Spruance was generally regarded as the most cerebral Admiral in the US navy during World War Two.He served with great distinction throughout the Pacific campaign,and his greatest achievement was the destruction of the superior Japanese carrier fleet at Midway in 1942,a truly pivotal,world changing blow,from which the Japanese were never able to recover fully,and marked the end of their rolling conquest of the Pacific Region. From there on,it was downhill all the way!
This is a fascinating study of a supreme"Blue Water"commander,who knew exactly what he wanted to do,coupled to an outstanding ability to figure out exactly how to do it, in a timely,efficient manner.,its a great read!
For serious students interested in a really complete picture of the Naval War in the Pacific,this volume should be read in conjunction with its companion volumes dealing with Admirals Nimitz,Halsey,Mitscher,and Kelly Turner,together with Gordon W bPrange's"At Dawn We Slept",Walter R Bourneman's"The Admirals",and finally,Stephen Walker's"Shockwave":,the story of the atom bomb attacks on the Japanese Homeland which induced the surrender. These volumes are allk available from Amazon at the present time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unsung Hero 9 Aug 2013
By Mark G
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Along with Sprague and Fletcher one of the least written about admirals of the pacific campaign. Spruance was without question at the top of his game administratively, tactically and strategically. Excellently researched with great anicdotes. A must read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great study of the "Forgotten Admiral" 28 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback
Admiral Spruance is probably one of the least-remembered of all the WW2 naval commanders, despite his many achievements and successes in the Pacific from 1942 onwards, resulting in him commanding the most powerful fleet ever know to man. Quite how the victor of the decisive Battle of Midway, which shaped the entire Pacific war from thereon, has only one such book to his name is a mystery to me.

Granted, there are enough books on that one battle to fill a small library, but little seems to be known of the man himself, which this epic tome does its best to rectify. He comes across as a thinker, planner, strategist, yet also somewhat pedantic at times (his insistence on eating onions and salads to ward off colds that he didn't have for instance) and some of the extracts of letters to his wife reveal a man with a dry-as-a-bone sense of humour. There are also some interesting comments as to the Admiral's conduct when Ambassador to the Phillipines (you'll have to read it to find out!)

Such weighty subject matter could be a real effort to get through, but here the writing style concentrates as much on the man's character as his upwards Naval progress, battles and commands, and does succeed getting the balance right. A great read for any students of WW2 and especially the Pacific war, I can't rate this highly enough.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  38 reviews
60 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A neglected, forgotten naval hero. 7 Aug 1999
By R Andrew Brandenburg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I was perplexed at the lack of available information on Admiral Spruance, considering the astonishing list of accomplishments: lieutenant during Teddy Roosevelt's "Great White Fleet" world tour, commanded Halsey's cruiser escorts for Jimmy Doolittle's raid on Tokyo, tactical (and decisive) command during the Battle of Midway, Nimitz's Shief of Staff, Commander of the US Fifth Fleet (the largest, most powerful battle fleet in the history of the world) including Iwo Jima, Saipan, Guam and Okinawa, President of the Naval War College and Ambassador to the Phillippines. Buell presents a good account of his life and career without delving into the psychological aspect (including a somewhat troubled relationship with his son, a WWII submarine commander). I believe this to be an important work for any serious amateur historian. Nimitz and Halsey may receive more name recognition, but Admiral Spruance's tactical command at Midway did more to turn the tide of the Pacific War than any other single commander. While many books have been written concerning Midway, this is the only book I have found that tells the story from Spruance's point of view.
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Quiet Warrior:A Biography of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance 24 Jun 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Buell is to be praised for this significant contribution the history of WWII. He is able to compare and contrast Spruance against the better know Halsey in a fashion that gives the reader a perception of how the men of the fifth and third fleet (one in the same) viewed Spruance. He was brilliant, but conservative. Regarded as timid at Midway and at the "Marianas Turkey Shoot" by the aviation community, this battleship admiral was thrown into the uncomfortable position of commanding of a carrier fleet and he acquitted himself admirably. Regarded by Admiral King as the only officer smarter then he, Spruance was widely recognized for his meticulous planning. This carried over into life after the Navy when he served as ambassador to the Phillipines. By itself this is a wonderful biography. Taken with Buell's biography of King, Potter's work on Nimitz, the books "Magnificant Mitcher", "Halsey" and "The Reluctant Admiral" one comes away in awe of the complexities Spruance dealt with so often and so well.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Serviceable biography of an important figure in World War II 4 Feb 2007
By Steven A. Peterson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Admiral Raymond Spruance was one of the major naval leaders in the Pacific Theater during World War II, ranking with Halsey in that regard. He was given command of the Fifth Fleet after having served some time as Admiral Chester Nimitz' chief of staff. He was happy to be released from that position and able to serve at sea once more.

Spruance is perhaps best known for his role at the Battle of Midway. Halsey came down ill and Spruance was designated as his replacement--even though he had never commanded an aircraft carrier nor had any background in naval aviation. There is some controversy over his decision-making, but, overall, the volume represents him as a sound commander under a greatly ambiguous situation.

Later, he also suffered some criticism for his decision making during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The author of the Introduction notes that (page ix): "Spruance was largely unfamiliar with the intricacies of naval aviation, and carrier operations in particular. Whether or not this lack of specialized experience was detrimental to his handling of a carrier task force in battle is debatable." Overall, the book examines Spruance fairly sympathetically, although Buell, the author, is willing to suggest where difficulties lay, too.

The treatment of Spruance after the War is well done, including his stint as Ambassador to the Philippines and President of the Naval War College. All in all, a serviceable biography of one of the more important leaders in the Pacific Theater.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent War Biography: Designed for the Practitioner 20 Mar 2007
By W. P. Bringham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As a WWII history buff, I have noticed striking differences in emphasis between the services (Army and Navy) in how they recorded their respective histories. The Army created an agency to record its official history (the big green books if you have seen them), while the Navy created no official history (Samuel Eliot Morison wrote an unofficial, less exhaustive history albeit still useful). Similarly, there is a great amount of good biographies, histories, and studies in command of the Generals of WWII (think of Eisenhower, Marshall, MacArthur, and Patton), while similar works of Naval leadership are few and far between. Potter's "Nimitz" is the only biography of that great leader.

Spruance also received short shrift in the way of bigraphies (in fairness, neither Nimitz or Spruance would consent to an "official" biography - and both were written after their deaths). Buell's work is the only one studying the leader of the Battle of Midway. Those desiring to advance their knowledge of WWII history will definitely get something out of "The Quiet Warrior," but the book is written primarily for the military professional by a military professional (Buell was a student at the Naval War College when he began "Warrior").

As such, this book is strongest when it delves into the planning of campaigns that Spruance's Fifth Fleet conducted and weakest when it attempts to recount the making of the Admiral. I most enjoyed the chapters discussing Spruance as Chief of Staff for Nimitz, Planning and execution of the Gilberts and Marshalls operations, and that of the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

I felt that Buell came up short in his examination of the Naval Academy years, his early shipboard life and lessons that he took from that time, and how he ran his ships. This information is most valuable to the Naval Officer. Also, I felt that "The Quiet Warrior" failed to capture Spruance's thoughts on events of significance in the Pacific Theater that did not directly affect the Admiral. An example is the Typhoon that battered Halsey's Third Fleet after the Battle of Leyte Gulf. We know from Potter's "Nimitz" that the CINC reprimanded Halsey for poor decisions that resulted in the loss of several ships during the Typhoon. Buell makes little mention of the event, that must have been a topic of discussion for Spruance and staff. In this instance, it appears that Buell opted for an incomplete history rather than the possibility of inciting a controversy. I wish that he had pulled the string a bit harder in this case.

All told, "The Quiet Warrior" is a great read. It is expecially valuable as a lens for examining the U.S. Navy during the first half of the Twentieth Century and one that I recommend without reservation.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spruance: soft-spoken contrast to the bombastic Halsey 3 Nov 2010
By William S. Grass - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Quiet Warrior is a biography of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, by author Thomas Buell, first published in 1974. The sources for Spruance's biography are plentiful, not only for his service in WW2, but for his early life and career, and postwar life as Naval War College president and then after retiring from the navy, ambassador to the Philippines. Buell does an excellent job of characterizing Spruance from his early life onward as intelligent, taciturn and somewhat enigmatic. The 1987 edition of The Quiet Warrior contains an introduction and footnotes by renowned Pacific War historian John Lundstrom.

One of the themes that runs through much of Buell's book is the contrast of Spruance with Admiral William Halsey. Spruance was ever the cautious commander, some say overly so, whereas Halsey was aggressive, some say rash. Halsey was outspoken and animated, Spruance quiet and reserved. Buell demonstrates that this contrast was well-articulated as early as the 1920s, when Spruance and Halsey commanded the same two destroyers in a short period of time. Even their attitudes about the Japanese differed; Halsey's outspoken hatred for the enemy contrasted with Spruance's detached analytical approach toward his foe.

Another theme in The Quiet Warrior is Spruance's command style as a delegator. He did not like to dwell on any details that could be passed to subordinates for decision making. As Fifth Fleet commander, Spruance had one particularly able chief of staff, Carl Moore, whose ambitions for flag rank had been derailed by his grounding of a cruiser earlier in his career. Nevertheless, Moore's tireless work under Spruance paid enormous dividends. Although prone to delegate what he could to free up his time from the bothersome routine of command, Spruance himself made the difficult decisions in the heat of battle, most notably at Midway and again at the Philippine Sea when he chose caution over aggression in confronting Japanese carrier forces.

As a military biography, I would place The Quiet Warrior on a par with E. B. Potter's "Nimitz," and just below D'Este's "A Genius for War" about Patton, and Manchester's "American Caesar" about MacArthur. This ranking is not a reflection on the author, but the subject. Flamboyant personalities like MacArthur and Patton left memoirs or diaries, voicing their opinions and telling what they thought of other commanders' actions and decisions. Spruance's beliefs can only be discerned by his correspondence, and the memories of those who knew him. Like Nimitz, he did not have the personality to write memoirs and thereby have to be outspokenly critical of others. Buell rates five stars not only for making the most of his sources, but for his evenhanded evaluation of Spruance's activities, both as a fighting admiral, and Spruance's disappointing (in my opinion) stint as ambassador to the Philippines, where he got involved in some shady political dealings.
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