Sheppard of the Argonne

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9781631774508: Sheppard of the Argonne

The nightmares had begun during the weeks of surgery, one operation after another at Balboa Naval Hospital to repair his leg and make him ""fit for duty"". And when Sheppard awoke during those weeks at the hospital... it was easy to blame the pain instead of the nightmares when nurses asked. Morphine dulled the reality of his horrific memories, but he had no morphine at home as he progressed form crutches to cane and finally, now, to just a lip. Without narcotics, the dream grew sharper, clearer in the consequences of his decisions - his decisions, killing his men. Sheppard could not hide the dreams form Evelyn. He had never been able to hide anything from her. So he told her that it was indeed just a nightmare and that it would pass in time as his body healed He could not tell whether she believed him. He hoped she did, for her sake. It would make his return to war easier. Sheppard feared that the dream would turn back into reality and he would have to live through it all again. Three months of reviewing his own decisions to find his mistakes and learn form them only left him frustrated. The logic for his actions appeared justifiable and sound, but his motivation... what had it been - glory, ego, hubris? Before December 7th, Sheppard had been supremely confident, sure of his ability to lead his men, certain that he could not be beaten.

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About the Author:

G. William Weatherly is a pen name for a retired U.S. Navy Captain with thirty years of service and command of three ships. His last assignment was as a professor of operations and chairman of the Joint Military Operations Department at the Naval War College in Newport. He is a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.

Review:

This inventive debut wartime novel transports military buffs right into the heart of the action. Weatherly, a pen name for a retired U.S. Navy captain who commanded three ships over 30 years of service, has chosen an intriguingly flawed protagonist for this World War II set story. In 1942, Capt. Sheppard McCloud is lauded as a national hero. He commanded the USS Shenandoah in a failed counterattack against the Japanese after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. He's now recovering from a serious leg injury from that assault, and keeps blaming himself for the deaths of his crew members that day. The Navy finds him fit for duty again, but his unspoken doubts remain: Now that his physical injuries were healing, the Navy assumed that Sheppard was still that confident leader...but they were wrong. McCloud soon finds himself in command of the battle cruiser Argonne, part of a battle group tasked with an important mission to secure shipping lanes from German U-boats, ships and planes so that badly needed supply convoys can reach the beleaguered British. The question is whether he's up for the challenge, and whether he can outrun his ghosts: He had to become the confident leader again for the sake of his new command. He knew that if he failed, the men would doubt him, and more sailors, his sailors again...would die. Weatherly does a masterful job of describing the American, British, and German soldiers who will eventually take part in the battle, and most importantly, he makes readers become invested in these characters. He also accomplishes the tricky task of supplying enough detail for hard-core military aficionados without derailing casual readers. Overall, he successfully brings the world of naval warfare to life in all its sound and fury. However, he never glorifies it, as he also paints the sobering aftermath in somber tones. A creative addition to the annals of fictional naval warfare. (Kirkus Reviews)

What if the Washington Naval Conference collapsed and its terms were never ratified? What if the post-World War naval buildup continued unabated until the Second World War? Sheppard of the Argonne is set in an alternate history where those questions become an engrossing narrative. History and fiction are blended throughout the novel in creative ways. The major characters on all sides are works of fiction. This allows for creative freedom, and the reader is well rewarded for it. For example, the novel s main character, Captain Sheppard McCloud, hero of Pearl Harbor, is a conflicted and damaged man. He fought his ship, the battlecruiser Shenandoah, courageously against the Japanese attack force but suffered mentally and physically in the process. His demons from that battle play a prominent role as we follow him into battle on the North Atlantic in command of the battlecruiser Argonne. Mounting the latest technology, including 18 guns and a Combat Information Center, Argonne is one of the most advanced ships in the US Navy s arsenal. While McCloud doubts his own abilities, his commanders do not. They hope putting him back to sea after a prolonged recovery on shore will bring him back to fighting trim. The narrative is written in an accessible and technical prose that will engage the naval enthusiast without putting off the average reader. George Jackson does not seek to tell the entire story of his different Second World War. He inserts just enough detail of outside events to make it clear that the war is quite different from what we know and spur the reader s interest while not detracting from the central story of Captain McCloud and his date with a German fleet in the North Atlantic. Sheppard of the Argonne is an exciting sea tale adventure that leaves the reader wanting to learn more about this different Second World War. --(Jason McHale, adjunct history professor at Quincy College, Edmonds Community College, and Southern New Hampshire University)

This alternative naval military history story is, in a word, authentic. G. William Weatherly is a former U.S. Navy captain who obviously knows about warships and command, and it shows throughout this gripping novel replete with the sights, sounds, and maneuverings of ships at war. Readers beware: Once begun, this book is difficult to put down. The story is based on a simple question: What if the Great Powers had failed to halt the naval arms race in the 1920's (as they did through international treaties signed by the U.S., Great Britain, Japan, Italy and France), irrevocably altering military history in the following years and ultimately World War II itself? What if warships grew ever larger, remaining immune to the weapons of all but their own breed? Weatherly imaginatively and impressively answers these questions, treating readers to a riveting tale culminating in a unique fleet-to-fleet clash of aircraft carriers, submarines, and that rarest of historical actions, a gun duel between capital ships. The hero, Navy Captain Sheppard McCloud, struggles against the internal demons of combat PTSD incurred while defending Pearl Harbor on that fateful Dec. 7th.. Nonetheless, he tackles the most vital mission of 1942 and perhaps the entire war: intercepting the German battle cruiser and carrier force that would choke off England's Atlantic convoy supply lines and force a British surrender. The author's finesse with battle scenes would be enough to recommend the book, but Weatherly also provides rare insight into the nature of PTSD and the way a captain s leadership is tested during command of a capital ship at war. The writing powers forward like the behemoths of the sea it portrays, taking readers on a thoroughly enjoyable, volatile journey into the fog of war and the terrifying confusion of battle. The novel is highly recommended, especially for military history buffs and military students, for whom the realistic elements of leadership and command will virtually jump out of every page. Also available in hardcover. --(Blue Ink Review)

An in-depth analysis of naval weaponry is woven into a unique story made accessible to a lay audience. With the accuracy of a career military officer and the literary skill of a veteran novelist, G. William Weatherly presents a fascinating look at how naval tactics would have been different without the disarmament conference that followed World War I. Sheppard of the Argonne assumes that construction and development of naval vessels and weaponry had been allowed to expand between 1922 and the 1940's, and looks at how this might have changed strategy and execution during World War II. Weatherly begins with a thoughtful author's note and prologue that clearly outline his concept, making this not merely an interesting piece of military fiction but a studied and plausible alternative history. Throughout Sheppard of the Argonne, Weatherly maintains a writing style that feels very much like chess moves and that illustrates the advantages and strategies from all sides of the conflict. Point of view changes from the captain of one ship to another, providing distinct clarity regarding the action of the book. As Captain Sheppard tours the Argonne, the most advanced capital ship in the US fleet, his sense of wonder and awe at the advancements that have been made in the materials and weaponry on board identifies their significance for a nonmilitary audience. His crew reveals the greatest advancement in antiaircraft gunnery since the introduction of the director, which is an early version of a self-guided missile. The size and caliber of the guns have been advanced and the ship itself constructed with thicker, better steel. Overall, it is easy to forget that this is an alternative history, as Weatherly leaves no detail undisclosed. It takes the first one hundred pages for Argonne to even leave port, but the narrative doesn't drag or seem burdened by all of the description and terminology. While the vessels, weaponry, and military protocol take center stage, Weatherly has been very thoughtful about the development of his characters. Captain Sheppard, who was a hero during the attack on Pearl Harbor but feels responsible for the loss of many crew members, deals with his own personal demons while he takes command of Argonne. This provides just enough human interest and turmoil to match the military rituals going on around him. Where the story falters slightly is with the tenuous thread of romance that carries through the book, with occasional segments in the voice of Sheppard's wife. These happen infrequently and are even highlighted by being entirely italicized. They seem to be intended to provide a perspective from the home front, but the sentimental thoughts of a wife for her husband miss the opportunity to describe how the alternative history would truly have impacted those left at home. Sheppard of the Argonne is a cleanly organized, well-paced book perfect for military buffs and strategists, but it has something for the everyday reader as well. It is a story about two protagonists: the US Naval fleet growing into expanding technology and the captain seeking inner redemption. They are both done tremendous justice by Weatherly, who exhibits extraordinary knowledge of both the military and human nature. --(Sara Budzik, Foreword Review)

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