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Samuel Eliot Morison

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According to Biographies in Naval History, “Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison, USN, (ret.) son of John H. and Emily Marshall (Eliot) Morison, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 9 July 1887. He attended Noble’s School at Boston, and St. Paul’s at Concord, New Hampshire, before entering Harvard University, from which he was graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1908. He studied at the Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques, Paris, France, in 1908-1909, and returned to Harvard for postgraduate work, receiving the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1912. Thereafter he became Instructor, first at the University of California in Berkeley, and in 1915 at Harvard. Except for three years (1922-1925) when he was Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford, England, and his periods of active duty during both World Wars, he remained continuously at Harvard University as lecturer and professor until his retirement in 1955.

 

He had World War I service as a private in the US Army, but not overseas. As he had done some preliminary studies on Finland for Colonel House’s Inquiry, he was detailed from the Army in January 1919 and attached to the Russian Division of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace, at Paris, his specialty being Finland and the Baltic States. He served as the American Delegate on the Baltic Commission of the Peace Conference until 17 June 1919, and shortly after returned to the United States. He became a full Professor at Harvard in 1925, and was appointed to the Jonathan Trumbull Chair in 1940. He also taught American History at Johns Hopkins University in 1941-1942.

 

Shortly after the United States entered World War II, Dr. Morison proposed to his friend President Roosevelt, to write the operational history of the US Navy from the inside, by taking part in operations and writing them up afterwards. The idea appealed to the President and Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, and on 5 May 1942, Dr. Morison was commissioned Lieutenant Commander, US Naval Reserve, and was called at once to active duty. He subsequently advanced to the rank of Captain on 15 December 1945. His transfer to the Honorary Retired List of the Naval Reserve became effective on 1 August 1951, when he was promoted to Rear Admiral on the basis of combat awards.

 

In July-August 1942 he sailed with Commander Destroyer Squadron Thirteen (Captain John B. Heffernan, USN), on USS Buck, flagship, on convoy duty in the Atlantic. In October of that year, on USS Brooklyn with Captain Francis D. Denebrink, he participated in Operation TORCH (Allied landings in North and Northwestern Africa - 8 November 1942). In March 1943, while attached to Pacific Fleet Forces, he visited Noumea, Guadalcanal, Australia, and on Washington made a cruise with Vice Admiral W. A. Lee, Jr., USN. He also patrolled around Papua in motor torpedo boats, made three trips up “the Slot” on Honolulu, flagship of Commander Cruisers, Pacific Fleet (Rear Admiral W.W. Ainsworth, USN), and took part in the Battle of Kolombangara before returning to the mainland. Again in the Pacific War Area in September 1943, he participated in the Gilbert Islands operation on board USS Baltimore, under command of Captain Walter C. Calhoun, USN. For the remainder of the Winter he worked at Pearl Harbor, and in the Spring of 1944, again on board Honolulu, he participated in the Marianas operation before returning to the United States to write.

 

In November 1944 he sailed for Europe in the cutter Campbell with Captain W.A.P. Martin, USN, Commander of a convoy escort group. He left Campbell at Gibraltar to visit scenes of recent action in Italy and France, and flew back to the United States in January 1945. In February he joined USS Tennessee, commanded by Captain Heffernan, and flagship of Commander, Gunfire and Covering Force (Rear Admiral Morton L. Deyo, USN). During the amphibious assault upon and subsequent conquest of Okinawa he witnessed many actions under enemy air attack. He later visited Iwo Jima and the Philippines and spent some time working on files in Guam.”

 

Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison was the author of more than 50 books; for two of which he received a Pulitzer Prize.  Among his works are: Admiral of the Ocean Sea; American Contributions to the Strategy of World War II; History of United States Naval Operations in World War II (15 volumes); John Paul Jones: A Sailor's Biography; and, The Two Ocean War.

 

According to the book description of Two-Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War, it was “originally published in 1963, this classic, single-volume history draws on Morison s definitive 15-volume History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. More than a condensation, The Two-Ocean War highlights the major components of the larger work: the preparation for war, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the long war of attrition between submarines and convoys in the Atlantic, the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, the long grind of Guadalcanal, the leapfrogging campaigns among the Pacific islands, the invasion of continental Europe, the blazes of glory at Leyte and Okinawa, and the final grudging surrender of the Japanese.”

 

According to a reader of Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus, “Morison was both a true sailor and a true writer. This, his pre-war masterpiece (his WW2 history of the U.S. Navy being his other) was intended for the 450th anniversary of the First Voyage which, sadly, was overshadowed by other events. It remains the standard English-language work on the four voyages of the Admiral (as Morison likes to call him), and it reigns supreme over all other Great Explorer books as the one tome which is doubly literate - both well written and fully conversant in sailing lore. The first point Morison makes is that Columbus did, after all, discover America: Africans, Chinese, Vikings and (obviously) the Indians had encountered it before 1492, but only Columbus got back home to spread the word. Discovery is not just finding something, it's telling everyone else about it. The other early point debunked is that Columbus never "proved" the world was round, as no-one ever doubted it was: his thesis was that the world was not as big as everyone said - therefore China was only a month's sail away. In this, he was utterly, utterly wrong, but the by-product of his error was the unfolding of the New World. Finally, Morison comes to Columbus the man. He was no saint - his treatment of the Carib peoples is a terrible stain on his and his masters' reputations - but as a navigator, few approach his skill, and none his achievements.”

 

According to the book description of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 8: New Guinea and the Marianas, March 1944-August 1944, “This installment of Samuel Eliot Morison's insider history of the U.S. Navy covers five of the most eventful months of the Pacific war, March through July 1944. Awash with spectacular rescues of downed airmen, bold beach landings, and brilliant though risky strategic gambles, this volume carries Morison's coverage of the war in the Pacific through the Allies' securing of Dutch New Guinea and the Marianas.

 

The three assaults that comprised Operation "Forager"--in which Morison participated--add up to one of the most important amphibious operations in history: protracted, bitterly contested, requiring great flexibility as well as fortitude. The development of powerful new weapons and sophisticated new tactics, together with the greatly extended distance of active operations from continental bases, rendered naval operations more vast and more complicated than ever before in history.

 

After nearly two years of bitter and almost continuous fighting, the Allies have broken the Bismarcks Barrier, conquered key Japanese positions in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, and cleared the way for an advance along the New Guinea-Mindanao axis. General MacArthur is intent on his one road to Tokyo, but Combined Chiefs of Staff decide to send Admiral Nimitz and the Pacific Fleet on a second, northern route, parallel to MacArthur's. Morison follows MacArthur's Southwest Pacific Forces in a series of bold leaps to Holandiak, Wakde, Biak, and the Vogelkop, also covering Pacific Fleet operations from the end of the Marshall Islands campaign to the recovery of Guam.”

 

According to the book description of Sources and Documents Illustrating the American Revolution, 1764-1788: and the Formation of the Federal Constitution, “The sources and documents presented in this book reflect the ideological revolution in America, encompassing the growth of independent sentiment in the colonies, the break with the mother country, and the establishment of a federal government by the states. All the essential documents are included as well as some important acts, resolves, letters, pamphlets, and instructions not readily available elsewhere.”

 

According to the book description of John Paul Jones: A Sailor's Biography, “Written by the renowned naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison, this Pulitzer prize-winning book is widely recognized as the only authoritative, modern biography of the naval officer frequently referred to as the father of the U.S. Navy. It vividly portrays the illustrious career of John Paul Jones, from his early training at sea in the British West Indian merchant trade to his exploits in the newly independent American navy and his appointment as an admiral in the Russian navy and command of a squadron in the Black Sea. With compelling detail and remarkable insight, the dramatic narrative captures Jones's tenacity and fierce dedication and loyalty to his men and country, despite ill treatment and only begrudged recognition from his superiors. Jones's incredible victories at sea form an important part of the book. Morison's description of the battle between Jones's Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis is considered one of the most vivid accounts of a naval battle in the English language.”

 

According to the book description of A Concise History of the American Republic: Single Volume, “A Concise History of the American Republic, Second Edition, is a compact, authoritative, gracefully written narrative of American history from the arrival of the Native Americans' Siberian forebears to the economic conflicts of the Carter and Reagan administrations. Its distinguished authors embrace a full range of the American experience: economic and social, literary and spiritual, political and military. In the engaging narrative that has made this work so well received, the second edition offers fresh and incisive analyses of the American party system, the Cold War, unemployment, environmental problems, Middle East conflicts, the energy crisis, our relations with China, the issues surrounding various elections, and much more. Major social, political, and economic policies and trends that have affected women and minority groups are recorded in detail. A Concise History is illustrated with 30 maps and over 200 paintings, cartoons, and photographs.”

 

According to the book description of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 13: The Liberation of the Philippines--Luzon, Mindanao, the Visayas, 1944-1945, “The smoke from the Battle for Leyte Gulf had hardly cleared before plans were being made for the liberation of the rest of the Philippine Archipelago. Volume 13 of Morison's masterful history covers the taking of Mindoro as a stepping stone to Luzon, the major landings on the shores of Lingayen Gulf, and the amphibious landings that wrested Borneo from the Japanese, as well as the series of short, swift operations that liberated Palawan, Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, and Mindanao.

 

In this volume, Morison describes the newly prominent role of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps, whose frenzied suicidal bombings offered the main resistance to the Allied occupation of Mindoro. Alongside details of military operations, Morison includes a heartstopping account of the typhoon of 18 December 1944, which blew up unexpectedly into a shrieking hellcat of a storm while Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet worked frantically to refuel. He also recounts the work of the "Rice Paddy Navy," a combined corps of American volunteers from the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard that collaborated with thousands of Chinese sailors, fishermen, pirates, and guerrillas and ended up fighting the last naval battle of the war using sailing junks.”

 

According to the book description of Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier (History of U.S. Naval Operations in World War II), “This spectacular fifteen-volume series that charts the U.S. Naval operations during World War II with an insider's perspective. Morison, a Harvard professor, was given a special rank and writing post by FDR. He had active duty aboard eleven different ships, allowing him to witness many crucial battles in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Volume Six - the fourth in this history to deal with the naval action in the Pacific-describes the action that led to the colossal victory in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, in which twelve Japanese ships, over 3000 men and twenty to thirty planes were destroyed at a cost of only two American bombers and three fighters. Filled with many maps and file photographs.”

Two-Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 7: Aleutians, Gilberts and Marshalls, June 1942-April 1944 (History of United States Naval Operations in World War II)
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

The Francis Parkman Reader
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 12: Leyte, June 1944-January 1945 (History of United States Naval Operations in World War II)
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier (History of U.S. Naval Operations in World War II)
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 9: Sicily-Salerno-Anzio, January 1943-June 1944 (History of United States Naval Operations in World War II)
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History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 11: The Invasion of France and Germany, 1944-1945 (History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume 11)
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 10: The Atlantic Battle Won, May 1943-May 1945 (History of United States Naval Operations in World War II)
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 14: Victory in the Pacific, 1945 (History of United States Naval Operations in World War II)
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

The European Discovery of America: Vol 1: The Northern Voyages A.D. 500-1600 (European Discovery of America, the Northern Voyages A. D. 50)
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

The Oxford History of the American People: Volume 3: 1869 Through the Death of John F. Kennedy, 1963 (Hist of the American People)
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

The Great Explorers: The European Discovery of America
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

The Rising Sun in the Pacific 1931 - April 1942 (History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, 3)
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 8: New Guinea and the Marianas, March 1944-August 1944 (History of United States Naval Operations in World War II)
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

Three Centuries of Harvard, 1636-1936
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

Sources and Documents Illustrating the American Revolution, 1764-1788: and the Formation of the Federal Constitution (Galaxy Books)
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

John Paul Jones: A Sailor's Biography (Bluejacket Books)
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

The Struggle for Guadalcanal: August 1942-February 1943 (History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume 5)
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History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 13: The Liberation of the Philippines--Luzon, Mindanao, the Visayas, 1944-1945 (History ... States Naval Operations in World War II)
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

The Liberation of the Philippines: Luzon, Mindanao, the Visayas 1944-1945 (History of Unted States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume 13)
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

The Battle of the Atlantic: September 1939-May 1943 (History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, 1)
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine Actions: May 1942-August 1942 (History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume 4)
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

The Growth of the American Republic (Volume II)
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

A Concise History of the American Republic: Single Volume
Samuel Eliot Morison  More Info

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