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Who Can Hold the Sea

Written by: James D. Hornfischer
Narrated by: Christopher Newton, Sharon Hornfischer
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Publisher's Summary

A close-up, action-filled narrative about the crucial role the U.S. Navy played in the early years of the Cold War, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Fleet at Flood Tide

“A lucid, fast-moving and fitting finale to [Hornfischer’s] career.”—The Wall Street Journal

This landmark account of the U.S. Navy in the Cold War, Who Can Hold the Sea combines narrative history with scenes of stirring adventure on—and under—the high seas. In 1945, at the end of World War II, the victorious Navy sends its sailors home and decommissions most of its warships. But this peaceful interlude is short-lived, as Stalin, America’s former ally, makes aggressive moves in Europe and the Far East. Winston Churchill crystallizes the growing Communist threat by declaring the existence of “the Iron Curtain,” and the Truman Doctrine is set up to contain Communism by establishing U.S. military bases throughout the world.

Set against this background of increasing Cold War hostility, Who Can Hold the Sea paints the dramatic rise of the Navy’s crucial postwar role in a series of exciting episodes that include the controversial tests of the A-bombs that were dropped on warships at Bikini Island; the invention of sonar and the developing science of undersea warfare; the Navy’s leading part in key battles of the Korean War; the dramatic sinking of the submarine USS Cochino in the Norwegian Sea; the invention of the nuclear submarine and the dangerous, first-ever cruise of the USS Nautilus under the North Pole; and the growth of the modern Navy with technological breakthroughs such as massive aircraft carriers, and cruisers fitted with surface-to-air missiles.

As in all of Hornfischer’s works, the events unfold in riveting detail. The story of the Cold War at sea is ultimately the story of America’s victorious contest to protect the free world.

©2022 James D. Hornfischer (P)2022 Random House Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What the critics say

“This excellent naval history elucidates how the atomic bomb and nuclear power shaped the geopolitical rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union . . . Hornfischer unearths fascinating anecdotes . . . . [and] enlivens the proceedings with sharp analysis and lucid prose. This impressively researched and thoroughly accessible account fires on all cylinders.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“With half a dozen accounts of the U.S. Navy under his belt, award-winning naval historian Hornfischer does not disappoint with his latest. . . . Hornfischer offers adept accounts of atomic tests and the Navy’s creation of a nuclear strike force. Readers will enjoy the history of the atomic submarine . . . An expert account for fans of military history.”Kirkus Reviews

Who Can Hold the Sea is a perfect follow-on to James D. Hornfischer’s four superb standard-setting books on the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during World War II. It is well researched, superbly written, and insightful. The United States’ history is that of a maritime nation, and Hornfischer’s legacy is to have superbly told that story from the deckplate.”—General Mike Hagee, USMC (Ret), CEO, Admiral Nimitz Foundation

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