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So Long for Now: A Sailor's Letters from the USS Franklin, by Jerry L. Rogers

Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2017. Pp. xvi, 418. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $29.95. ISBN: 0806156325.

A Sailorís Eye-View of the War

The author was only six on March 19, 1945, when his brother Elden Duane Rogers was killed, on his 19th birthday, in the devastating Japanese air attack on the carrier Franklin, off Kyushu. After a long career in the National Park Service, during which he was for a time Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places, Rogers turned to the many letters that his brother exchanged with family members and friends, and began to piece together the story of Eldenís life and wartime service.

Rogers uses these letters, which often including copies of replies, along with other documents, to tell not just Eldenís story, but that of an American family from the boom times of the twenties through the Great Depression and on into the Second World War. Thereís a lot in here.

Naturally Rogers gives us a look at the family and the world Elden grew up in, a tale one of early prosperity, then the hard times of the Depression, and the slow return to normalcy. In this way he offers us glimpses into the lives of the ordinary Americans of the day, farming, keeping house, going to school, courting, and more, all set against the background of the larger events that shaped their lives and times.

Eldenís letters about life in the Navy, from raw recruit through the eve of his death, offer insights into the men with whom he served and the routine and minutia of naval service, of which he at times quite critical, with a few amusing surprises. This is supplemented by the excellent research Jerry Rodgers did to fill in the horrific details of the terrible events of March 19, 1945, when literally hundred of the Franklinís crew were killed within seconds, and the desperate, and ultimately successful, fight to save the ship.

So Long for Now is very good read for anyone interested in understanding more about American life during in an era fast passing from living memory.

Note: So Long for Now is also available in several e-editions

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   


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