[Review] The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy’s Finest Hour by James D. Hornfischer

Publisher and Publication Date: Bantam Books. 2005 for the paperback.
Genre: Nonfiction. History. Naval History during World War II in the Pacific. Military.
Pages: 499.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of World War II in the Pacific.
Rating: Very good.

Link at Amazon.

James D. Hornfischer’s Goodreads’ author page.

To read more information about this historical event: National Museum of the U.S. Navy.


The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors is the story of the battle that took place off the island of Samar on October 25, 1944. Samar is one of the Philippine islands.

The Battle of Leyte Gulf, which was near Leyte, Samar, and Luzon, Philippines, was the larger battle, but the battle near Samar is considered a focal point.

The Japanese were trying to hold on to the areas they’d conquered, and the United States Navy began this tightening grip and offensive.

My Thoughts:

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Soldiers has two sections of black and white illustrations. Some of them are a collage of multiple photos. I love the layout of the illustrations because it gives the book a visual magazine quality look.

The story is told in a chronological timeline of the events when they happened. October 25 is the start of this particular battle at Samar.

The ships involved in this battle are a highlight. The description and history of the destroyers, pilots aboard the ships, personal stories and bios of sailors in regard to their duties, the buildup to the battle, the descriptions of strikes and bombings and explosions, the strafing from the enemy and its damage.

I love the personal bios and memories from the sailors. This includes their families.

I love a side story of a little dog who was a mascot of a ship.

Those who had lost their ship in a sinking and were adrift in the ocean awaiting rescue is sobering, and a reminder of their sacrifice and endurance.

There is a list of those who died in order to honor them.

The story shows the brutality of war, and yet sacrifice and honor.


[Review] Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation, read by Dion Graham

Publisher and Publication Date: Mission Audio. 2013.
Genre: Nonfiction.
Length: 51 minutes.
Format: Audiobook.
Source: Library.
Audience: Readers with an interest in Rev. Martin Luther King Jr’s life and mission.
Rating: Excellent.

Link for the audiobook at Audible.


Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) was in a Birmingham, Alabama jail in the spring of 1963 when he wrote this letter addressed to fellow clergyman. It is an open letter though, which means it is intended for publication.

He states to whom and why he has written this letter.

The letter reminds me of an opening statement given in a courtroom by an attorney addressing the history of the struggle of race and segregation, the current circumstances and concerns, various feelings in the black community, the response of the larger Christian community (white), and his hopes for the future.

My Thoughts:

My first thought while listening to this letter read: Is this letter read and studied in school? It should be. It is a travesty if it is not.

The following words are all going to be brief in my thoughts about this letter. They are words that he mentioned or came to my mind while listening.

“Unjust laws.”
“Out of harmony with the moral law.”
“Why are colored people treated as weak? Humiliated? Called names?”
“People of ill will have used much more time effectively than the people of good will.”
A call to rise up.
“Non-violent efforts and protests.”
The words time, lift, create, and active are used often.
Disappointed with the white church response.
Love. The agape love.

This is a brilliant audio recording of a phenomenal letter, and by a man who was and still is in his legacy a person of conviction and strength and vision.

[Review] The 60s: The Story of a Decade, The New Yorker by various authors

Publisher and Publication Date: Random House. 2016.
Genre: Nonfiction. Magazine articles. Essays.
Pages: 720.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Library.
Audience: History readers with an interest in the 1960s.
Rating: Good.

Link @ Amazon.


The 60s: The Story of a Decade is a collection from various authors sharing the history of the times of the 1960s. For example: music, culture, books, poetry, movies, deaths, and wars.

Nine parts holding 92 chapters.

My Thoughts:

First of all, I have a new computer and I’m learning to use it. I’m learning to use it along with writing a review! I’m so glad to have a new one because the old one literally had screws popping out and the some of the keys were sticking and the fan was going out on it. So, I feel blessed to have a nice new computer!

I was born in 1964.

My four older siblings were all teenagers during the 1960s. A first memory is the music of that decade. Each of my siblings had their favorite singers and bands. My sister JoAnn loved the music of the early 1960s. My sister Frances loved the Beatles. My brother James loved The Doors, Cream, and Black Sabbath. My brother Bobby loved Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and many others.

I grew up in the generation of people who watched television while eating supper. I remember the news broadcasting the events of the landing on the moon and the Vietnam War.

I’d not been interested in reading about the history of the 1960s until recently. I have watched a few documentaries on Netflix and Amazon Prime about this time period. When I saw this book at the library, I had to read it.

This book, The 60s: The Story of a Decade, shares essays and snippets from articles. For example, Truman Capote wrote the series that first appeared in The New Yorker, In Cold Blood. What is included in this book is a later chapter from the book which whet my appetite to read the full book in which I’ve already written a review.

This book shares a broad pen stroke of the writings that appeared during the 1960s giving the reader a general idea the world as printed in The New Yorker.

I love it that other world events outside of America is included. For example, the war between Israel and the Palestinians.

Not all chapters were of interest to me, so I speed read portions. I did not ignore them. I read them quickly.

My favorite chapters: In Cold Blood, The Village of Ben Suc, Silent Spring, Views of a Death, Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Assassination of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, Cassius Clay, Sgt. Pepper, Joan Baez, Twiggy, and Bob Dylan.

The chapter on Bob Dylan is an interview. This is a wonderful chance to get to know him from that era. It’s an excellent interview.

Illustrations are not included.

There is an alphabetical list of authors who wrote the articles with brief bios.

[Review] Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic

Publisher and Publication Date: Simon & Schuster. July 10, 2018.
Genre: Nonfiction. History. Naval history. World War II.
Pages: 578.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of World War II history.
Rating: Excellent.

Link for the book @ Simon and Schuster.

Link for the book @ Amazon. At this time, this book is included in Kindle Unlimited. The hardcover is $12.31.

Goodreads author page for Lynn Vincent.

Goodreads author page for Sara Vladic.

Lynn Vincent is a U.S. Navy Veteran, and the author of several history books.

Sara Vladic is a documentary film maker, and a leading expert on the history of the USS Indianapolis.


From the opening line: “She was born from soil as American as the men who sailed her.”
This is one of the best opening lines I’ve read!

The USS Indianapolis was christened in 1932 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

It was a Portland-Class Heavy Cruiser.

The USS Indianapolis in the final days of World War II had transported a secret that was hoped to end the war. Soon after delivering the secret, the ship is hit with two torpedoes from a Japanese submarine. It sank. Most of the men, both Navy and Marine, were able to get off the ship before it sank. Only 316 survived after five nights and four days in the Philippine Sea.

Indianapolis tells the entire story of the ship and its military men. From the time it was built and christened, to the sinking and survival of the men, the aftermath of those who survived the rescue, the trial of the captain, and the investigation and perseverance to exonerate him.

My Thoughts:

I have a personal connection to the story.

A woman who my mother was friends with starting in 1942 when they both worked at the Houston, TX Telephone Company as switchboard operators, her husband either died on the Indianapolis or in the water. She does not want to know the details of his death. They were childhood friends who fell in love, and they married in 1944. Thelma was a widow at age 18.

It’s been a few years ago, but on Memorial Day, I was scrolling through Facebook and came upon information about the USS Indianapolis group. They have a goal to have a photograph of every Navy and Marine Veteran who was on the Indianapolis. I contacted Thelma, and she and her daughters put together pictures and information to send the Indianapolis group. It was planned to fly a flag in honor of her husband at their memorial museum. Thelma was presented with a flag. This is the first time she had been presented with a flag after his death.

I feel humbled that I was able to help Thelma connect with this group and honor her husband.

There was no funeral for him. There was nothing but a couple of telegrams for her to read.

I don’t know if these are the right words to use, but there is a sense of comfort, dignity, and peace for her in this act.

Thelma is still living at age 96. She later married and had children, but she did not forget her first love, and possibly her great love.

My Thoughts of the book:

This is the second book I’ve read about the story of the USS Indianapolis. The first book is In Harm’s Way by Doug Stanton.

Indianapolis is a difficult book to read. I knew what happened. But there is such a feeling of sadness and loss. But also, a feeling of…. I’m at a loss for words.

After reading the last page. I closed the book and sat in my chair for a long time. It is overwhelming what these brave men endured.

They too at times are at a loss for words. The horrors they saw are unspeakable, but as best they can, they try and give their testimony of what happened.

Much of this book is a survivor record of the events that unfolded. How they felt. What they saw. And also looking at the event in retrospect.

Vincent and Vladic form the structure of how the book is laid out. They share the background information. For example, the history of the ship. The battles it had taken part in. The recording of the survivor’s accounts.

The Bibliography is 65 pages in length.

The book is heavily researched by the writing team.

Before the prologue, there is a two-page spread of the USS Indianapolis. It is a diagram or map showing all the areas of the ship.

65 photographs are included. Most are in black and white.

The story also includes information from the perspective and memory of the Japanese commanding officer on the submarine, Mochitsura Hashimoto.

This is a must-read book if you are a military reader, Veteran, or a person who reads World War II history.

[Review] Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness by Craig Nelson

Publisher and Publication Date: Scribner. 2016.
Genre: Nonfiction. History. War literature.
Pages: 545.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Public library.
Audience: Readers of World War II, Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941, and the war in the Pacific.
Rating: Excellent.

This is the first book in 2023 I’ve given 5 stars for excellent.

Link for the book at Amazon.


On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii.

Their primary focus was at Pearl Harbor; however, they attacked other airfields on the island, and they even attacked civilians who were in their path. There were two attack waves of planes. The attack lasted about two hours. The planes caring torpedoes inflicted heavy damage to the ships. Several ships were tied to each other and at dry dock. The Japanese had wanted to attack and destroy the aircraft carriers, but they were out at sea. There were 96 ships at Pearl Harbor during the attack.

Pearl Harbor is a chronological detail history of the attack, Imperial Japan, the building up of the Great Pacific War/World War II, America’s response before and after the attack, and eyewitness stories.

The total death count is at 2,403. Most of the deaths were from the USS Arizona.

My Thoughts:

This is a second read for me. I read this book for the first time in 2018. I’d actually forgotten that I’d read it. The book is a library copy.

I’m currently on a nonfiction reading kick. I have several nonfiction books that I’m juggling. Not all of them are war related. Some are poetry books. One is a history of various articles that were published in the 1960s in the New York Magazine. I just finished reading In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, a nonfiction novel.

The following is a copy of the first review with new updates from the second read.

I have many thoughts, and most of them are emotions without adequate words.

I love this book, and several reasons are listed below.

To begin with, there are two strong points about this book.

  1. Craig Nelson lets the history and eyewitness stories support the book.
  2. It is a strong testament to the courageous American military men and women.

Further reasons why this is an excellent book:

3. Pearl Harbor gives a close-up examination of Imperial Japan. Their mindset, aggressive actions against other countries, and preparations for the Pearl Harbor attack. The rape and murderous rampage in China are shocking to me. They were swept up in a frenzy of evil. One of the Japanese men remarked, “It was almost like being addicted to murder.”
4. How Americans perceived the Japanese, as well as how the Japanese perceived Americans are shared.
5. The island of Oahu, Hawaii. It was a peaceful, relaxed type atmosphere. On the day of the attack, it was a beautiful day. It was believed to be a safe paradise.
6. The process of the attacks on the island are carefully and chronologically shown. Beginning at Wheeler Field, Schofield Barracks, and followed by Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Bellows Field, Ewa Marine Core Station, Hickam Air Force Base, Ford Island, and the Pearl Harbor U.S. Naval Base.
7. Pearl Harbor is filled with eyewitness stories from men and women (military and civilian), including those who were children during the attack, both Americans and Japanese.
8. A nurse remarked she was at the new Hickam Field Hospital. It had been open three weeks. There were six nurses. They did not have all the mattresses yet to cover the beds. They gave the wounded morphine, not much else could be done in many cases.
9. Craig Nelson organizes the ships according to the events of their attack; sharing the damage, loss of life, and those that were wounded.
10. Statistics are shared of the wounded and dead on each ship.
11. Many courageous stories of survivors are shared.
12. Stories of those who worked in the clean-up crews and rebuilding of the ships.
13. The USS Nevada almost made it out of Pearl Harbor. They ran aground rather than blocking the entrance of the harbor which is what the Japanese had hoped for.
14. How President Roosevelt handled hearing the news. His words and behavior are given.
15. After the attack, the Doolittle Raid; and in brief, the Pacific War and the Japanese surrender.
16. The book ends with a closure on the people that were written about in the book. What happened to these men after the war. A list is given of those who received the Medal of Honor. A final chapter is on controversies surrounding the event.
17. When I finished the book, it was the day after Memorial Day (2018.) Books like Pearl Harbor are a vivid reminder of the true meaning of Memorial Day. I’ve read quotes on Facebook pertaining to the holiday-to remember why we have this special day. Pearl Harbor is a testament to American military men and women who gave courageously and sacrificially for American freedom.