This book promises a faithful look at World War II in the Pacific
What’s it about?
“The Gun Club: U.S.S Duncan at Cape Esperanza” tells the story of Duncan, a US Navy Gleaves-class destroyer that sank on the 12th of October 1942, north of Savo Island, a volcanic island part of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. Through historical documents and the testimonies of survivors, Fowler reconstructs what it was like to be at sea during World War II, and more specifically, what the experience on U.S.S. Duncan was like. It is a very meticulous job, that includes testimonies, graphics of what the ship was like, maps, photpgraphs of the main characters, and recollection of letters. The main character is Robert Fowler III, the author’s father, who was injured while in the ship, and died as a result days later. The book successfully takes a small episode of the War and tells it thoroughly. This serves as a reminder that one death in the context of WWII may seem small, but there were a lot of factors that lead to that particular death, and all of the other deaths. For this reason, the book meticulously narrates events that at first glance may seem trivial and unrelated to the sinking, but turn out to be part of what lead to things unfolding as they did.
Who wrote it?
Robert Fowler is a screenwriter, an off-Broadway producer, and a film-maker. He is also the son of U.S.S Duncan’s torpedo officer, on whom the book focuses, at least partially. On the book’s website, the author explains why he decided to write his father’s story: “My goal, almost 75 years later, was to understand what really happened. I endeavored to cover all aspects of the battle, from both sides, and which elements shaped the stalemate, including the minor actions leading to the sinking of the U.S.S. Duncan, and its aftermath”.
Read or Pass
If the Second World War is a topic that you are interested in and passionate about, this book will take you to what it was like to battle in a U.S. Navy destroyer in the South Pacific. It explores a very specific moment in the war, but at the same time it reflects on the importance of the war as a whole, and in the relevance of each individual death, versus the statistics we have all seen again and again. Something to keep in mind: it is targeted towards readers who already have an understanding of how the Navy works and it has a lot of technical lingo. However, it is no impossible to follow if you do not have previous knowledge. Leatherneck Magazine, a publication for Marines, called this book “One of the three best Pacific War books so far this century”, so if you’d really like to see what it was like to be in this situation, it is a definite read.
Latin American Post | Laura Rocha Rueda