Introduction to The Two-Ocean War:
As you can probably guess by my reviews of books like Lost Victories and The Red Line, I love reading military history or historical fiction. I think books like those are fascinating and a good way to overcome the lack of historical knowledge that is such a big problem for the Western World. So, I sat down and decided to read The Two–Ocean War by Samuel Eliot Morison.
Summary of The Two-Ocean War
The Two-Ocean War is a book from the 1960s about the US Navy’s experience, lessons, and exploits during World War II. It covers every area and time period the Navy fought in, from shelling the beaches of Normandy and hills of Italy to shooting down kamikazes off the coast of Okinawa and desperately resisting the Japanese onslaught at Wake Island.
Morison begins The Two-Ocean War by describing the post World War I treaties and policies that had left the US Navy hamstrung. A lack of proper funding and an inability to build enough ships put the Navy at serious disadvantage when the US entered the war in 1941. Luckily, because of the tenacity of our sailors and ingenuity of our military contractors, we were able to surmount those challenges and win the war.
After discussing the early disadvantages the US Navy faced, Morison jumps right into the action. In The Two-Ocean War, instead of sticking to just one theater of action, as many World War II authors do, Morison attempts to describe it all; he writes about most, if not all, of the major engagements and incidents in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.
By bouncing back and forth between theaters in a mostly chronological fashion, Morison is able to give the reader a good overview of what the war was like for the Navy in a way that stays interesting. The Two–Ocean War wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good of a book had he first described month after month of battle in the Pacific, then a long section about the Battle for the Atlantic, then the invasions of North Africa, Italy, and France, then an enormous section about the amphibious landings in the Pacific.
While all those topics are interesting to learn about, had Morison made chapters purely about one topic it would have been a boring book. There is simply too much information about each topic to keep the reader engaged with that topic from the start to end of its relevance.
So, The Two–Ocean War is instead broken up chronologically. Morison describes the desperate actions off of Guadalcanal and what the Navy learned from them, then describes the hunt for the U-boats. He goes back and forth between theaters from start to end, which I thought made it a much more engaging and interesting book.
In The Two–Ocean War you will read about practically every major naval battle or campaign fought in World War II. But not in a dry, after-action report kind of way. No, Morison uses anecdotes, stories of valor, and gripping accounts of battles to show both the battles and strategic position the Navy was in throughout the war. The intensive detail throughout it will appeal to every professional or amateur military historian that wants to learn about the American perspective on naval combat in World War II.
Analysis of The Two-Ocean War
Morison took on an enormous task by attempting to write about so much in a relatively short and easy to read book. But, because of his fast paced writing style and ability to sort the topics chronologically while still maintaining a coherent strategic picture for each theater and campaign, I think he succeeded in his goal.
Before reading The Two-Ocean War, I knew very little about naval combat in World War II. Because of books like Lost Victories and The German Army on the Eastern Front, I knew some about land combat during World War II. But I had read practically nothing about naval combat.
After reading it, I think I am much better informed. While still a novice in the subject, I think I better understand why technology, industry, and tactics led to a US command over the seas that still persists. If you read The Two-Ocean War, you will be entertained by the gripping accounts of battle in it. But you will also become better informed because you will get the chance to absorb Morison’s thoughtful analysis of the strategic situation and what each battle or event meant. It is the perfect balance of entertainment and information.
Finally, I can’t recommend The Two–Ocean War highly enough because it is unabashedly pro-American. Morison doesn’t shy away from calling the Japanese “Japs,” nor does he apologize for the destruction we brought to the fascist powers. And I loved that. Too many books try to apologize for America and what it has accomplished. The authors of them are unwilling to be unabashedly pro-American.
In some cases, that is okay. They are just trying to be completely objective and do not want to let their patriotism get in the way of the facts. But, far too many obfuscate and won’t praise American actions because they think that America was, somehow, in the wrong. They don’t like that civilians died, that we did not help out the Soviets enough, or that we returned colonies to the colonizer. For whatever reason, they have a chip on their shoulder and use their historical works to attack America, even in histories of World War II.
Morison, however, does not do that. The Two-Ocean War celebrates our victory and our destruction of the enemy, the evil and barbaric forces of the Empire of Japan. We need more writers like that that are unabashedly pro-American and tell history in a way that makes you proud to be an American.
The Two-Ocean War is a great book that anyone even slightly interested in military history should read. It is informative and entertaining. Accurate and pro-American. Overall, it is a wonderful book that will teach you more than you thought you wanted to know about naval combat during World War II.
But that is not all that made me like The Two-Ocean War; it left me thinking about similarities between the state of the US Navy at the beginning of the book and the US Navy now. Like I stated above, the pre- World War II US Navy had been hamstrung by disadvantageous treaties and a lack of funding. The confluence of those two factors limited its ability to innovate, left it without the proper number of ships, and degraded morale.
Can you say now is any different? Treaties from the Cold War such as the IRBM treaty limited our ability to innovate and put IRBMs on naval vessels. Money is being spent on foreign aid and welfare rather than the military, leaving commanders with nowhere near enough vessels or training. That is a dangerous spot to be in. Our representatives need to read The Two–Ocean War to learn from history and scrap bad treaties and properly fund the Navy.
By: Gen Z Conservative