Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fortnightly Book, September 30

After graduating high school, Kenneth Dodson joined the Merchant Marine. He probably would have completed a career in that, but the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor shifted the entire course of his life. He joined the Navy and was in the thick of things; he saw action in nine major battles, including Okinawa. After the war, his friend, the poet Carl Sandburg, insisted that he write about some of his experiences. During the war Sandburg had come across a beautiful letter written by Dodson to his wife Letha and as a result had made it his mission to meet the writer. Dodson didn't quite know how to start, so he took some creative writing courses and produced his most famous book, Away All Boats, based on his experience aboard the attack transport U.S.S. Pierce; that book is dedicated to Carl Sandburg and to Letha and is the next fortnightly book.

There is a brief author's note at the beginning of the book:

The task force movements, beachhead assaults and principal enemy air attacks described in this novel are intended to be historically accurate, and in other respects the author has attempted to tell a story which will ring true to veterans of amphibious landings.

All characters in this story are fiction and any resemblance to actual persons is coincidental. The U.S.S. Belinda is imaginary; there was no attack transport by that name. Many other ships in the story never actually existed, yet it is the author's desire that in these pages the reader will recapture the spirit of those ships of the United States Navy which sailed to victory through the Pacific islands.

A song that is alluded to in the book, and which plays a part in the 1956 movie based on it:

The movie, incidentally, had a very brief, uncredited, speaking role by the young Clint Eastwood.

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