"Battleship Sailor" by Theodore C. Mason

This is a fine autobiography of a young radioman 3rd class petty officer serving aboard the battleship California prior to and during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Mason details the every day life of the enlisted man in the spit and polish navy aboard America's finest, the battleship. This book leaves nothing out. From basic training, aboard ship chicken guano, the friends made for life, the hopes, the hardships, thoughts, philosophies, gripes, and problems are all there. Visit the infamous bars, bordellos, and good and bad ports of leave. Be bored while refitting. Meet friends, family, loved ones, and girls left behind. Find out what a short arm inspection really was. Feel the agony and pride during the devastating attach on December 7th, 1941.

This book has numerous pictures of ships and young men that helped save the nation. As I looked at the faces of these men, I felt great respect for their bravery and sacrifice. And, anger at the incompetent leaders that allowed such a humiliation to take place. My Dad was aboard the destroyer tender Dobbin, anchored just beyond battleship row during the attack. Over the years I had heard many of the same thoughts and observations, as so well expressed by Mason, espoused by him. To those brave men who were there, I salute you.

Reviewed by Kenneth S. Smith, 1 September 1999

Available from:
Blue Jacket Books
Naval Institute Press
Annapolis, MD