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The Quiet Warrior: A Biography of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance

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Regarded as the standard biography of World War II naval hero Adm. Raymond A. Spruance. Spruance, victor of the battles of Midway and the Philippine Sea and commander of the Fifth Fleet in the invasions of the Gilberts, the Marshalls, the Marianas, and Okinawa, is one of the towering figures in American naval history. Yet his reserved, cerebral personality did not make goo Regarded as the standard biography of World War II naval hero Adm. Raymond A. Spruance. Spruance, victor of the battles of Midway and the Philippine Sea and commander of the Fifth Fleet in the invasions of the Gilberts, the Marshalls, the Marianas, and Okinawa, is one of the towering figures in American naval history. Yet his reserved, cerebral personality did not make good copy for correspondents, and until the publication of The Quiet Warrior he remained an elusive figure. Thomas Buell has succeeded in evoking the nature of the man as well as recording the achievements of the admiral in this brilliant biography, which won the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement the year of its publication.


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Regarded as the standard biography of World War II naval hero Adm. Raymond A. Spruance. Spruance, victor of the battles of Midway and the Philippine Sea and commander of the Fifth Fleet in the invasions of the Gilberts, the Marshalls, the Marianas, and Okinawa, is one of the towering figures in American naval history. Yet his reserved, cerebral personality did not make goo Regarded as the standard biography of World War II naval hero Adm. Raymond A. Spruance. Spruance, victor of the battles of Midway and the Philippine Sea and commander of the Fifth Fleet in the invasions of the Gilberts, the Marshalls, the Marianas, and Okinawa, is one of the towering figures in American naval history. Yet his reserved, cerebral personality did not make good copy for correspondents, and until the publication of The Quiet Warrior he remained an elusive figure. Thomas Buell has succeeded in evoking the nature of the man as well as recording the achievements of the admiral in this brilliant biography, which won the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement the year of its publication.

30 review for The Quiet Warrior: A Biography of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sy De Witt

    I enjoyed this book and learned much about Admiral Raymond Spruance, who led our naval forces at Midway and later the campaigns to take the Japanese held islands in the Gilberts, Marianas, Marshall Islands. He also commanded the naval and ground forces who took Iwo Jima and Okinawa. I was a bit disappointed that Spruance abdicated his responsibility and saddled his long-time friend and Chief of Staff, Captain Carl Moore, with mediating the conflicts between Admiral Kelly Turner and Marine Genera I enjoyed this book and learned much about Admiral Raymond Spruance, who led our naval forces at Midway and later the campaigns to take the Japanese held islands in the Gilberts, Marianas, Marshall Islands. He also commanded the naval and ground forces who took Iwo Jima and Okinawa. I was a bit disappointed that Spruance abdicated his responsibility and saddled his long-time friend and Chief of Staff, Captain Carl Moore, with mediating the conflicts between Admiral Kelly Turner and Marine General Holland Smith. After the war, Spruance was assigned as President of the Naval War College with orders to strengthen its curriculum. Apparently, he was quite successful. At the end of the war, Congress authorized four billets for Fleet Admirals (five stars). The obvious choices were Leahy, King, and Nimitz. Navy Secretary Forrestal left it to King to decide who the fourth would be - - Halsey or Spruance. According to the author, King catalogued the contributions of both men and reportedly favored Spruance. However, Representative Carl Vinson, a powerful Congressman and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, had publicly endorsed Halsey and King would not risk going against Vinson. And so Halsey was the fourth Fleet Admiral. Later efforts to promote Spruance were thwarted by Vinson. Perhaps as a consolation, Spruance was allowed full-pay for life of a 4-star Admiral. In a letter to a professor at the Naval Academy, Spruance wrote, "So far as my getting five star rank is concerned, if I could have had it along with Bill Halsey, that would have been fine; but, if I had received it instead of Bill Halsey, I would have been very unhappy over it." Spruance's final public service was as Ambassador to the Philippined during the first Eisenhower administration and by all accounts, Spruance acquitted himself very well.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    Excellent bio of ADM Raymond Spruance. Proves you do not have to be a swashbuckling media darling like Halsey or Patton to be effective. Although Spruance was a cerebral introvert, I think he and and Omar Bradley had much in common. Most significantly their modesty and selflessness.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rick Cheeseman

    Splendid.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John

    I read Buell's work because it is considered the authoritative book on Admiral Spruance. It is indeed complete and comprehensive, tightly written with all the details. And dry as dust. Some might say that Spruance was dry, which he was in the style of Gene Roddenberry's creation, Mr. Spock. Many took Ray Spruance as cold and calculating, but what he was was reserved, analytical and rational, to a fault. After the war, where Spruance had served as King and Nimitz's top surface fleet commander, Sp I read Buell's work because it is considered the authoritative book on Admiral Spruance. It is indeed complete and comprehensive, tightly written with all the details. And dry as dust. Some might say that Spruance was dry, which he was in the style of Gene Roddenberry's creation, Mr. Spock. Many took Ray Spruance as cold and calculating, but what he was was reserved, analytical and rational, to a fault. After the war, where Spruance had served as King and Nimitz's top surface fleet commander, Spruance's wife asked him of his impressions of the world conflict. His answer: "It was interesting." Ray Spruance consistently viewed his job as Fifth Fleet Commander as an intellectual exercise, thereby saving him from many of the emotional and hasty decisions that caused Bill Halsey so much embarrassment. For those who want to dig deep into Spruance's life before and after WWII, go ahead and read this book. But I would highly recommend instead James Hornfischer's magnificent book, "The Fleet at Flood Tide." I've been an avid reader of WWII history for almost 50 years and The Fleet at Flood Tide is the best work of history out there about the U S Navy in WWII. I just finished reading The Fleet at Flood Tide for the second time and thought, "This book could have been called "Raymond Spruance in WWI." I high;y recommend The Fleet at Flood Tide. I recommend The Quiet Warrior only to history buffs and students of the US Navy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Evans

    I was curious to know about Spruance, as the gymnasium at my high school in Manila, Philippines, was named after him. What an enormously intelligent, albeit quiet, leader and naval strategist. He knew his weaknesses, but prevailed all the same.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Pei-jean Lu

    In many ways one can compare Admiral Raymond Spruance to that of General Omar Bradley. Both came from relative obscurity in the prior years to WWII and then an extraordinary set of circumstances would thrust them both into the world stage and like Bradley who was overshadowed by the likes of the more forceful personalities of Patton and Montgomery in the European theatre, Spruance too was largely overshadowed by the more flamboyant personalities of Admiral Halsey and of course General MacArthur In many ways one can compare Admiral Raymond Spruance to that of General Omar Bradley. Both came from relative obscurity in the prior years to WWII and then an extraordinary set of circumstances would thrust them both into the world stage and like Bradley who was overshadowed by the likes of the more forceful personalities of Patton and Montgomery in the European theatre, Spruance too was largely overshadowed by the more flamboyant personalities of Admiral Halsey and of course General MacArthur in the Pacific theatre. The only real difference is that Admiral Spruance perhaps more shy and reticent than Bradley, shunned the media spotlight more so than Bradley and so many of his exploits save for his role in winning the Battle of Midway are perhaps less known. This biography reads like the man himself. Clear, concise and simple.

  7. 5 out of 5

    C. Patrick

    This was a very readable biography about Admiral Spruance who despite his thorough and pivotal involvement in the Pacific campaign, never seemed to command the attention lauded on others, probably due to his disinclination to gain attention. Lots of great vignettes to be extracted about his approach to a great many things, including running staffs and other organizations. I was not aware of his role as ambassador to the Philippines at a crucial time for that country, though sadly his efforts the This was a very readable biography about Admiral Spruance who despite his thorough and pivotal involvement in the Pacific campaign, never seemed to command the attention lauded on others, probably due to his disinclination to gain attention. Lots of great vignettes to be extracted about his approach to a great many things, including running staffs and other organizations. I was not aware of his role as ambassador to the Philippines at a crucial time for that country, though sadly his efforts there did not successfully bend the trajectory away from the challenges that continue to bedevil it today.

  8. 4 out of 5

    William "Spig"

    I was challenged by a mentor to learn my history. This was a great way to learn through the eyes of Spruance. The author does a great job showing the humanity of Spruance. I found myself asking what would it be like for me to work for or advise a man like Spruance. My personal takeaway was to build trust between communities like Aviation and Surface to keep them mission ahead of cultural bias. I hope to be a “Mitcher” for my soon to be surface admiral.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Wai Zin

    As a history enthusiast and WW2 buff, this book is an excellent read for me. Instead of reading the detailed descriptions of battles it touch on the life of Admiral Spruance and they were golds. But I don't have much interest in Spruance's tenure as the Ambassador of Philippines.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    I love this biography by Buell. You can tell Buell loves the subject (he even met and interviewed Spruance while he was serving in the Navy). This book isn't hero worship, but rather a critical homage to a person who very quietly and meekly grew into a great admiral.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Pierre Lauzon

    A clear and comprehensive biography of one of the great World War II Admirals. The book is well balanced and is not a hagiography. Highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Steven Peterson

    Admiral Raymond Spruance was one of the major naval leaders in the Pacific Theater during World War II, ranking with Halsey in that regard. He was given command of the Fifth Fleet after having served some time as Admiral Chester Nimitz' chief of staff. He was happy to be released from that position and able to serve at sea once more. Spruance is perhaps best known for his role at the Battle of Midway. Halsey came down ill and Spruance was designated as his replacement--even though he had never c Admiral Raymond Spruance was one of the major naval leaders in the Pacific Theater during World War II, ranking with Halsey in that regard. He was given command of the Fifth Fleet after having served some time as Admiral Chester Nimitz' chief of staff. He was happy to be released from that position and able to serve at sea once more. Spruance is perhaps best known for his role at the Battle of Midway. Halsey came down ill and Spruance was designated as his replacement--even though he had never commanded an aircraft carrier nor had any background in naval aviation. There is some controversy over his decision-making, but, overall, the volume represents him as a sound commander under a greatly ambiguous situation. Later, he also suffered some criticism for his decision making during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The author of the Introduction notes that (page ix): "Spruance was largely unfamiliar with the intricacies of naval aviation, and carrier operations in particular. Whether or not this lack of specialized experience was detrimental to his handling of a carrier task force in battle is debatable." Overall, the book examines Spruance fairly sympathetically, although Buell, the author, is willing to suggest where difficulties lay, too. The treatment of Spruance after the War is well done, including his stint as Ambassador to the Philippines and President of the Naval War College. All in all, a serviceable biography of one of the more important leaders in the Pacific Theater.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Darrell

    Raymond Spruance is one of the great admirals that served during the Pacific campaign in WWII. Mr Buell has taken on the task of writing about this very private man. Admiral Spruance never sought out the media coverage and was not very well known like Nimitz and Halsey but he played a huge role in the command of Pacific victories. When he returned to the U.S. after the war he didn't get a hero's welcome like Nimitz and Halsey did (not to take away from them). He just went to assume his new job a Raymond Spruance is one of the great admirals that served during the Pacific campaign in WWII. Mr Buell has taken on the task of writing about this very private man. Admiral Spruance never sought out the media coverage and was not very well known like Nimitz and Halsey but he played a huge role in the command of Pacific victories. When he returned to the U.S. after the war he didn't get a hero's welcome like Nimitz and Halsey did (not to take away from them). He just went to assume his new job as the President of the War College. His career and views were private and he liked it that way but he was key to such battles as Midway (where he assumed command because Halsey was ill), battle of the Philippine sea, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Did he make mistakes? Sure he did but so did most of the senior admirals in the Pacific (Halsey had Leyte Gulf and two hurricanes for example) but overall, Spruance was known as a methodical and very good commander of the U.S. Naval forces. This is a great book for people interested in learning about this unique and key person from this era of Naval history.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Charles H Berlemann Jr

    A great book on a interesting man and how he rose to be such a hero in the WW2 era navy. The most interesting parts to me was that his family life prior to entering the Naval Academy was different that most of the other individuals that I had read about of the WW2 era admirals. Raised entirely by his mother and her sisters after financial hardships force issues with his family to break up. The rest of the story flowed well in presenting both the history of Spruance and his immediate family. A fe A great book on a interesting man and how he rose to be such a hero in the WW2 era navy. The most interesting parts to me was that his family life prior to entering the Naval Academy was different that most of the other individuals that I had read about of the WW2 era admirals. Raised entirely by his mother and her sisters after financial hardships force issues with his family to break up. The rest of the story flowed well in presenting both the history of Spruance and his immediate family. A few good stories that showed that Spruance was spit and polish when he needed to be, but also hated spit and polish since there are stories of him making a show of inspections just to get back to the real work for a ship or command he operated at. The end of life is also interesting with his tour as the Naval War College President and then ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines Islands. The author admits as well that Spruance kept no personal letters so it was hard to create the person behind the scenes and had to base it all on people that worked with him and around him at these times. A very good book and worthwhile read or addition to the library.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Todd

    This is not for the average reader. It's more for those who are into WWII history to the point of reading a somewhat boring biography just to see what philosophies, decisions, strategies and details contributed to a certain leader's winning of an important battle. I was a little disappointed the book didn't go into that a little deeper. This was more a blow-by-blow account of Admiral Spruance's life and times...and that's about it. Not a lot of depth for a deep character who is most responsible This is not for the average reader. It's more for those who are into WWII history to the point of reading a somewhat boring biography just to see what philosophies, decisions, strategies and details contributed to a certain leader's winning of an important battle. I was a little disappointed the book didn't go into that a little deeper. This was more a blow-by-blow account of Admiral Spruance's life and times...and that's about it. Not a lot of depth for a deep character who is most responsible for turning the tide of war against the Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway. It was honest, however, about his mistakes. Just another testament of the idea that war is a series of mistakes and that the winner is the side who made the fewest.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nikky

    Raymond Spruance is one of the unsung heroes of the Pacific Theater in WWII. Passed over his fifth star for political reasons, he was the commanding officer during the Battle of Midway. This is one of the only books about Adm. Spruance, and is a fascinating read about this enigmatic and humble figure.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alain DeWitt

    Review forthcoming.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    What an amazing leader.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Steve Anzalone

  20. 4 out of 5

    Wilford Cannon

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brent

  22. 5 out of 5

    Donald L Davis

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sam Mobley

  24. 4 out of 5

    jerome Geller

  25. 4 out of 5

    P G SCHMITT

  26. 4 out of 5

    William Bullen

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael Nachman

  28. 4 out of 5

    Carl

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gregory

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