03 June 2007

Cruise reading

Cruising on an Aircraft Carrier for 6+ months can get pretty boring at times. One of the ways that I find to bide my time is either bring a portable electronic gamebox, get in on a card game, or read a good book.


I am a person that a times has 3 or 4 books sitting on their bed side table for night time reading. It can get interesting when I am doing that with some fiction books. You lose track of who is who. When I was in middle school or high school I use to keep a spiral bound notebook by my bedside and create a scorecard of what was going on in each book. I have gotten past that now. Most of the time I have them stacked up on by bed side table for future reading. When I deploy though I am only able to carry a few things here and there. On top of that limited space and it becomes and issue of what books to bring. I have learned to bring thick, heavy, paperback books. I usually bring about 3-4 books that run in the thousand page plus, mainly because I read so fast and I usually try to read every place that I am at. After work sitting in my little sleeping cube with some music in my ears, waiting for a plane to land in the shop, going to lunch or dinner if I am going to eat alone, waiting for shift change, it really doesn't matter sometimes.


It also doesn't matter what I read either just something help me try and escape the ship for a while. I have read, "The Lord of the Rings", "The Fleet the Gods Forgot", "Red Storm Rising", "Introduction to Writings of Machiavelli", "Introduction to Airborne Radar Systems", "Short Stories of O.Henry", etc. I have read classics (or what most people consider classics), deep thought books, fun fiction, history, and job related educational books. Sometimes I get what I am reading, other times I don't understand some of what the author is trying to say. When that happens I put that book down and pick up another from my collection. The books that I don't understand I usually pick back up and try again. I don't ever try to admit that a book is above my intelligence. What I will usually turn around and do is again pick up a spiral bound notebook from my local supply clerk; and then create a mini-book club between me, myself, and I. At times the meetings can get very interesting because myself and I want to read fun things and me forces them to sit through the boring parts and really understand the chapter or pages that I have just read. Other times there are outright arguments when me falls asleep and then myself and I jumps ahead to an exciting portion in the book.


Anyhow, I am slowly gathering the books for this upcoming cruise I will be going on to keep myself entertained. So far my selections are as follows:





  • Democracy in America-Alexis De Tocqueville, This is the classic book by a Frenchman on how democracy was working the then new United States of America in the 1830's. Tocqueville traveled all through out the new republic and talked to people living in big cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City. He also traveled to some of the little towns up and down the major roads at the time and talked to the common man to understand their beliefs of democracy and American government at time. This will be an interesting read for me, because this book is always talked about by politicos and history professors of how democracy was allowed to flourish in Europe and elsewhere.


  • The Federalist Papers-Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, This is the collection of basically letters to the editor by some of the framers (Hamilton, Jay, Madison) of the US Constitution on how the Constitution was supposed to work. These men were basically the lobbyist for ratification of the Constitution. They were also retorts to my other book choice. Most historians and political professors are able to guess who wrote which letters. At the time Hamilton, Jay, and Madison didn't want to be recognize so they used name Publius for signing off on all of the letters.

  • The Anti-Federalist Papers and Constitutional Convention Debates-Cato and Brutus. These were a series of letters to the editor that asked what sort of individual rights would of been granted under the New US Constitution when compared to the then Articles of Confederation. The people that wrote these letters maintained their anonymity as well, so well in fact that few modern historian actually know who wrote which letters. However, this book and its companion above give wonderful insight on how the constitutional debates and ratification process went. From what I have read in other places, the ratification debates make some of our current political debates (such as the war in Iraq, abortion, religion and government) pale in fire and passion.

  • Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy - Ian W. Toll, this is the short history of the building of the United States Navy. From nothing but a naval militia in the places like New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts; to have 6 fast and powerful frigates that gave the dominate navy at the time (the Royal Navy) a run for their money, did some oversea adventuring and helped to replace a government in the Mid-east with a more US-friendly one, challenged the French Navy (Quasi-Naval War), and basically held the line to protect Yankee merchant vessels until Congress would get around to authorizing a real navy later on in the century. A book about men that are now part of the mythos of the USN. Petty Officer Reuben James, Captain Thomas Truxtun, Captain Edward Preble, Captain William Bainbridge, Lt Stephen Decatur, Captain Issac Hull, etc.

  • Raymond Chandler:Collected Stories- Raymond Chandler, Raymond Chandler created the hard-boiled detective story with a detective name Philip Marlowe. He did it along with Dashiell Hammiett and in turn created a whole new genre of mystery. The one that shows the slightly decaying underside of a big city. The one where the detective isn't a Mrs. Marple or a Sherlock Holmes, but rather a jaded human being that feels the same way as nearly all of us. They aren't always able to spot the obvious and solve the puzzle in a few steps, rather it takes them down a few blind alleys and trying to figure all the angles. The one where the pretty damsel in may not be the in distress and may actually be looking for a patsy. I didn't think I would of enjoy this type of book, but after reading The Big Sleep I really got a kick out the book and the writing. This is a collection of the short stories he wrote for detective magazines in the 1930's and '40's. It interesting to see him develop his writing styling.

  • Black Shoe Carrier Admiral:Frank Jack Fletcher at Coral Sea, Midway & Guadalcanal - John B. Lundstrom, This was passed on to me by my father. John Lundstrom is a historian of some note inside Naval History. Most of his books that I have read are real well written and have plenty of fresh and new source material to prove his point. This one talks about Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, a man trained in how to run battleship fleets who was in command of carrier task forces at all the major battles and engagements of when the US Navy was up against the ropes. It was this black shoe who lead replenishment convoy in company of Adm. Brown and Lexington to Wake Island following Pearl Harbor only to be turned back by CINCPAC HQ. It was this black shoe was was in charge of Yorktown battle group and was there for Coral Sea. He was there with the Yorktown during Midway. He was there when the 1st Marine Division landed at the 'Canal. In turn because of choices he made in the heat of battle people have considered him an ineffective leader. Instead Lundstrom shows that he did the best that he could have and made the right decisions at the time when the massive fleet following 1943 wouldn't of begin to shown up. This looks interesting.

There are a few others, but these are going in the box of books I am going to mail my self just before heading to the ship on cruise. That way I don't have to lug them any place on my back or try and maneuver a big bulky box through the passage ways of the ship to where I sleep.

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