Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

"Enterprise", a Book Review

Discussion in 'The Pacific and CBI' started by George Patton, May 2, 2013.

  1. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    Messages:
    3,145
    Likes Received:
    1,096
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    I've read a couple of books since my last review. I finished this last night, and figured that I might as well post a review while its still fresh in my head.

    "Enterprise" by Barrett Tillman tells the story of the USS Enterprise (CV-6) during WWII. There's not much more to say -- its a book focused around the Enterprise and the men who flew off her, along with some cursory 'big picture' information. Its 320 pages long.

    The Good:
    • Focuses almost solely on the Enterprise and not other aspects of the war. This is good for those that want to read just about the ship, but bad for those who are not.
    • Relatively concise (see my comments below -- it mentions the facts, but without depth)
    • Filled with detailed explanation about 'kills' and biographical sketches of important men who served on the Big E. This would be good from a research perspective.
    The Bad:
    • Dry and repetitive. It starts off well, with an attention-getting prologue, but quickly fizzles out within the first three chapters. After this, its a lot of repetitive text -- so much so that it feels like 'filler'. Much of the book tells of various shoot-downs by Enterprise aviators, with little or no background information to support it -- stuff like "Lt (jg) _____ flamed a Zeke over Truk". It does the same with losses of American planes, with comments like "Ensign _____ belly-landed next to the destroyer _____ and was returned to the Enterprise".
    • Extensive use of 'mannerisms' and slang. I commented on this when I review Tillman's "Whirlwind" a few months ago. In what is obviously an attempt to 'juice up' the writing, instead of saying "shot down", he'll instead use terms like "splashed, flamed, smoked". In a few instances, he even made such ridiculous comments like "____'s Hellcat lunched on a Zeke", or "the Wildcat sunk its claws into a Betty". I felt that these played a much larger role in this book than it did in Whirlwind -- and it makes me wonder who the target audience is.
    • Spends time bashing politicians and naval officers. He paints Halsey in a negative light in the later chapters with little justification (for example, referencing the Typhoons as examples of his poor judgement, which is something only a few readers will likely understand). In the last chapter, he rips into the Navy Department for not naming one of its new CVN-78 class carriers "Enterprise", expressing dismay that Gerald Ford had a carrier named after him, and implying that George H.W. Bush was the man who presided over the 'unjust' 'Tailhook Scandal' investigations in the 1990s (to my knowledge, he had little to no connection to it). I did not buy this book to read about politics, so I was surprised to see this. There are a few other figures as well who he rips in to, but I can't remember them now. What any of this has to do with the original Big E is beyond me -- it seems like he had a bone to pick (Tillman is quite active with the Tailhook Association, for instance), and decided to do it here.

    Other Comments:
    • While its evident that a lot of research went into this book, the book itself does not do that effort much justice. Much of it is disorganized, dry and repetitive. I felt that it was like a manuscript that was copied to me on its way to an editor. To put it simply, its rather hard to read. I didn't connect with most of the people in the book, as they are thrust onto the paper with little introduction or rather irrelevant comments like "____, a star athlete at Annapolis". A lot of the pilots mentioned aren't introduced at all, their names just appearing in a sentence explaining that they shot down a plane over "_____". Their name will just show up in one line, and then never be referenced again. This aspect made it feel like something out of the US Army's "Green Books", while the mannerisms gave it an immature feel.
    • As I said, the book fizzles after the first few chapters. In fact, I thought that the book's quality decreased as it went on. Maybe the author lost interest in it (wanted to move onto another topic?) so put little effort into it.
    • This is clearly not one of Tillman's best efforts. Despite the mannerisms, I enjoyed Whirlwind much more than I did this.
    • This book might be a little harsh, but I was very disappointed with this book. I enjoy everything related to both Big E's (CV6 and CVN65), and figured that this would be an interesting book.
    Recommendations:
    • If you can find it cheap, pick it up. Its not a horrible book, but it just isn't that good.
    • The book might be OK for a novice, but I learned next to nothing reading it.

    Rating: 2 out of 5
     
    belasar likes this.
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,384
    Likes Received:
    1,129
    With so many books out there, some are bound to disappoint even if they meant well.
     
  3. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    Messages:
    3,145
    Likes Received:
    1,096
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    I fully agree. I've had a good run with my purchases over the past year, so I guess it was just a matter of time!
     

Share This Page