Sunday, June 04, 2006

An Anniversary

Know this picture? There may be no more decisive -- and luckier -- scene in the history of the U.S. military.

Murdoc has a little more. I forgot the anniversary; I'm glad he didn't.

Reading this reminds me of what a thrilling book Walter Lord's "Incredible Victory" was when I read it at age 14 or so. It's not as famous as his "Day of Infamy" or "A Night to Remember," but it's a tale well-told in his splendid style of weaving a large historical canvas out of the narrative threads of individual lives of people and machines -- the warships had personalities, too.

Lord's style, and the effect of it on the reader, always stuck with me, along with Bruce Catton, whom I read at about the same age. When it came time to write history, I wanted to write it like that. Which is why I dropped out of academe after four years of undergrad and went off and wrote it, instead of submitting myself to the next decade of ideological inquisition that would have given me a real degree I could whack people on the head with. Had I done that, I'd probably end up writing "The Hermeneutics of Colonialism by Class, Race and Gender on Midway Island" not "Incredible Victory."