Book Review: Silent Strategists: Harding, Denby, and the U.S. Navy's Trans-Pacific Offensive, World War II


by Manley R. Irwin

Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2008. Pp. viii, 204. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $57.99. ISBN: 0761839178

In Silent Strategists, Prof. Irwin (emeritus, New Hampshire), who has written widely on the interwar naval service, argues that certain measures adopted by President Harding and, particularly, his Secretary of the Navy, Edwin Denby, were central to the evolution of American naval strategy in the Pacific War. 

This is certainly correct, since their period in office saw major revisions of naval organization and administration, the naval arms limitation treaty of 1922, budget reform, and the introduction of many technical innovations, from aircraft and the aircraft carrier to radio, refueling at sea, amphibious operations, and more, as well as the use of annual maneuvers to
practice the fleet under realistic conditions and test new technologies and concepts.  Irwin follows the influence of these measures through to the war, and concludes that Harding and Denby were highly important in the development of the American naval force that won the Pacific War.  But his case is made rather disjointedly, and the work has a number of minor errors of fact, not to mention needing the attention of a good editor. 

Nevertheless, Silent Strategists is a useful read for serious students of naval history in the interwar period.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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