military books by servicemembers.





Leo Block

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Capt. Leo Block, USN, (ret.), a Pearl Harbor survivor, “enlisted in the Navy prior to the United States’ entry into World War II, serving aboard the Farragut class destroyer USS Macdonough as a fireman and later as a machinist mate. After the end of World War II he left the Regular Navy as a chief petty officer to earn a mechanical engineering degree at the University of Southern California. During the Korean Conflict he served on active duty as a junior officer, and afterward remained active in the U.S. Naval Reserve.” 


Captain Leo Block “earned his Masters in mechanical engineering for the University of Southern California and completed the Naval War College course in strategy and policy.  He has twenty US Patens, and his technical writings have been published in several technical magazines.” Captain Leo Block is the author of To Harness the Wind: A Short History of the Development of Sails; Aboard the Farragut Class Destroyers in World War; and, Diesel Engines: A Boat Owner's Guide to Operation and Maintenance.


According to the book description of To Harness the Wind: A Short History of the Development of Sails, “Man was a sailor long before he invented the wheel or straddled a horse, and his adventures at sea changed the course of history. Initially he was able to sail only downwind, but the Cretans and Phoenicians made design improvements to sails that permitted sailing across and eventually against the wind. The Vikings optimized the performance of the square sail, and the Dutch modified the Arab lateen to create the sail commonly used today. Leo Block tells the story of the evolution of sails and relates it to historic events and other factors that affected the performance of sailing vessels. Numerous illustrations help explain the technical factors involved.


Focusing mainly on European improvements, Block details the progress of sail design from the lateen to the square, fore and aft, and classic rigs right up to the swift clipper ships of the nineteenth century just before the advent of steam power. Written in laymen's terms, the book is an excellent learning tool for readers who know little about the history of sailing vessels and a quick reference guide for sailors who want a reminder of how their craft evolved.


A review from the Independent Publisher said of Diesel Engines: A Boat Owner's Guide to Operation and Maintenance, “In this amply illustrated and straightforward guide, Leo Block, an old Navy hand, sets himself the formidable task of filling the gap between what you learn from your engine's owner's manual (almost nil) and what you find in the technician's service manual (far too much). It should be stressed that this book is not designed to teach the novice how to fix a broken diesel. The doit-yourself suggestions are strictly limited to the routine service procedures you'd find in the most cursory owner's manual: changing the lubricating oil, ensuring a clean fuel supply, replacing filters, bleeding air from oil lines, etc. The question arises, then, whether this book is filling a much-needed void. For pleasure boaters unsatisfied with a monkey-see-monkey-do approach to diesel maintenance, the answer is no. The value of this book, then, lies in its lucid explanation of the complex mechanical principles at work in diesel engines: the "why" behind the "do." While it won't turn you into a mechanic, it may just keep you from being conned the first time you sail into the yard for a tune-up.”

Aboard the Farragut Class Destroyers in World War 2: A History With First-person Accounts of Enlisted Men
Leo Block  More Info

To Harness the Wind: A Short History of the Development of Sails
Leo Block  More Info

Diesel Engines: A Boat Owner's Guide to Operation and Maintenance
Leo Block  More Info

According to the book description of Aboard the Farragut Class Destroyers in World War II, “The World War II-era Farragut class destroyers were a unique collection of eight U.S. Navy ships. The first destroyers to be equipped with five-inch, 38 caliber dual-purpose guns and a fully automated fire control system, they presented unique challenges and experiences for the enlisted men who served aboard them. Fittingly, their sailors were a proud and cocky group, as they served on the smallest, roughest riding, and fastest men-of-war, ships with more firepower for their size than any other class of ship in the U.S. Navy.


This book describes the life of the enlisted man aboard a Farragut class destroyer during the pre-war years when the ships were assigned to the Hawaiian Detachment; the war preparation period in 1941; and finally, the wartime years. First-person narrations from the sailors collected from interviews and correspondence with the few remaining Farragut class destroyer sailors are the primary feature of this book. With the exception of narratives of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the book focuses not on combat but on the day-to-day recollections of sailors who lived and worked on some of the most distinguished ships ever built by the U.S. Navy. The book also briefly describes the evolution of the destroyer and the Farragut class destroyers, five of which survived the war.”

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