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Collision With History: The Search For John F. Kennedy's PT 109

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9780792268765: Collision With History: The Search For John F. Kennedy's PT 109
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Michael Hamilton Morgan writes on the PT 109 collision:

It?s about 2 a.m., August 2, 1943. Lt. John F. Kennedy squints into the fog and black while at the wheel of PT 109, idling in the Blackett Strait off Gizo in the Solomon Islands. His orders are to attack the ?Tokyo Express? resupplying Japanese installations.... He and his young crew are ready, but handicapped by darkness and fog.... Suddenly, only 300 yards away, a black shape looms...traveling without lights and at high speed. Only seconds before impact...the ship is identified as a Japanese destroyer, the Amagiri. The much larger craft slices through the hull of PT 109, cutting the 80-foot wooden-hulled boat in two. Several of the crew are injured, one critically. The crew takes refuge on the larger section that remains afloat until dawn. Then all are into the water, and Lt. Kennedy begins the series of epic swims that will save his crew and earn him a place in history.

Forty years after his death and 60 years after his first collision with history in the South Pacific, John F. Kennedy and his story still inspire readers. In Collision with History, JFK?s heroic efforts to save the 11-man crew of PT 109 are brought to vivid life, interwoven with a comprehensive history of PT boats and the World War II campaign in the Solomon Islands. Combining renowned explorer Robert Ballard?s account of his search for the wreckage of PT 109 with survivor accounts and Kennedy family members? personal recollections, this companion volume to the major National Geographic television event is a moving introduction to the young war hero who would later become president.

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About the Author:

Robert D. Ballard, Ph.D., is president of the Institute for Exploration in Mystic, Conn. and the former director of the Center for Marine Exploration at Woods Hole, Mass and the author of several best-selling books, including Explorations, The Discovery of the Titanic, and The Discovery of the Bismarck.

From Library Journal:

On a foggy August night in 1943, the future President's PT boat was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer in the Solomon Islands. Two of the 13-man crew died in the action, which cut their boat in two. Kennedy acquitted himself well in the aftermath, assisting two injured crewmen, leading the survivors to nearby islands and eventually getting word to rescuers. In the tradition of his explorations of the Titanic and Bismarck wrecks, Ballard (with help from writer/consultant Morgan) attempts to set the strategic and tactical stage for Kennedy's war, but the result is rather disappointing. The text then jumps forward to the May 2002 expedition to locate the wreck. There is some material describing the geography of the Solomons and their modern inhabitants. Chapter 5, which is given over to the actual search and discovery, might have made a detailed magazine article but is scarcely sufficient to form the core of a book. Heavily illustrated with photos and National Geographic reconstructions, and with family remembrances and an introduction by Sen. Edward Kennedy, this coffee-table book feels rushed into print to accompany the promised television documentary. A marginal purchase unless the documentary generates demand.
Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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