Book Review – ‘Aircraft Carriers of the United States Navy: Rare photographs from wartime archives’ by David Bowen

By David Bowen, published November 2020


This is a pictorial history of the development of the US Navy’s aircraft carriers – from a converted collier in 1922 to the nuclear powered ‘Super-Carriers’ of today – from carrying bi- planes to unmanned stealth jets. It focuses on the deployment of carriers during the Second World War and covers their development before and since.

The oft-told history of the US Navy’s carriers merits retelling. We cannot fail to marvel at the prodigious rate of development — from that collier to the first nuclear-powered giant in only 40 years.

After a brief foreword, the book has four sections: pre-war carriers, wartime carriers, post-war carriers and nuclear-powered carriers. Each section commences with a brief text summary followed by photographs with captions. These summaries are clear and factually accurate, though brief. This is not a human history – the personalities and biographies of the main actors, experiences of the crews, the complexities of politics all remain untouched. Nor is this a wider treatment of the topic – there is no reference to the deployment of US carriers by other navies and little reference to the carriers of other nations and hardly any reference to aircraft.

Indeed, this is not a substantial book. The page count includes six introductory pages, 12 blank pages at the back and 38 pages of large-format text …

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Filed under: WW2 | Post WW2 | Other (Twentieth C) | Twentieth Century
Subjects include: Naval Aviation | Navies | Shipbuilding & Design

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