To my left, a growing tower of books… 90% of them focused on the topic of U.S. submarines in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War Two, and the rest existing as proof of my eclectic tastes: The Art of Victory – the Live and Achievements of Field Marshal Suvorov by Phillip Longworth, How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History, by Erik Durschied, and Gerald Bowman’s The Man Who Bought a Navy. To my right, an orderly stack of reference texts, dictionaries, and writing guides, and in between, my laptop and second monitor to facilitate my efforts to complete my academic pursuits and provide inspiration and focus for my jaunts into writing.
Originally, this blog was to serve the purpose of taking my running commentary and ideas on military surplus rifles such as the Mosin Nagant; as it stands, my infrequent exposure to the various other surplus firearms failed to warrant such a specific focus. Modifying my goal appropriately, I incorporated academic and personal work in the realm of history mostly because social media turned out to be a poor venue for anything but quick updates, funny cat videos, and heated political discussions.
However, as I was mulling over the volumes of information within convenient reach, I started to consider the possibility of using this blog as a sort of running description of the development of an academic thesis. The idea came from forum posts for my current course, “Writing a Research Proposal,” and some of the shared frustrations in figuring out what to write about and how to go about it in a way that doesn’t replicate previous efforts.
One of my biggest concerns is becoming yet another historian using the same sources to reach the same conclusion of others. So far, my academic pursuits have led me to find some of the individuals and events which have received relatively little interest – from Simo Orts’ involvement in finding the missing hydrogen bomb off the coast of Spain in 1966, to the infamous and somewhat amusing story of the USS Porter’s ill-fated attempt to
assassinate escort FDR during his 1943 crossing of the Atlantic on board the USS Iowa, and even Nadezhda Durova’s participation in Napoleonic wars as a female cavalry soldier. These stories have provided both interest and inspiration in my goals of attempting to petulantly avoid any topic which has been discussed at length.
Currently, I am working on the idea to write about the U.S. Navy’s submarine campaign during the Second World War. Though this topic has been covered in much detail by many of the books which are currently stacked on my desk next to me, very little has been discussed in the development of the skippers who led these boats into battles which have become incredible tales of lore and bravery. With this relatively sparse academic study, there has been very few points of contention I have found as of yet; most books published since the 1980’s have used many of the primary sources I aim to dissect, but the overall theme of these newer books have been to discuss the overall strategy and tactics or focus specifically on the exploits of one particular boat. If any disagreement or point of contention I would venture to take issue with would merely be the inaccuracies of James DeRose’s description of his book Unrestricted Warfare: How a New Breed of Officers Led the Submarine Force to Victory in World War II. De Rose chose to follow the well-worn path of describing the exploits of only a few key skippers, instead of taking a more holistic approach to these – and other – officers, their training, and their leadership styles.
This, like the direction parts of this blog may take, remain a work in progress, and it should be interesting to see where it takes me.