4 out of 4 stars
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The Gun Club: USS Duncan at Cape Esperance by Robert Fowler is the account of a World War II naval battle between US and Japanese forces that ultimately led to the sinking of the titular vessel. The author's father was aboard the Duncan during the fated battle, and sadly lost his life. The details of what happened at Cape Esperance in October of 1942 seem cut and dry at first glance, but the author's meticulous research reveals that far more contributed to the loss of the Duncan than a simple run-in with the enemy.
The Gun Club is a riveting, and also very sobering, account of war and its repercussions. As already stated, the author lost his father during this battle, and although Lt Robert Fowler was honored as a hero for his heroic conduct at Cape Esperance, family members and friends soon realized that the U.S. Navy's official story wasn't telling the entire truth. Through careful research and interviews with the survivors, the author was able to fill in the gaps, and he shares the true story of Duncan's fateful mission within this book.
The Gun Club is well-written and fast-paced, but also beautifully detailed. The book not only describes the battle of Cape Esperance, but gives a full account of Duncan's pre-commissioning and prior assignments, and includes many details about the personal lives of the sailors and the social dynamics aboard the ship. The many interviews that the author conducted with survivors give a vibrant picture of what life was like on the Duncan for both officers and enlisted personnel, and the multiple viewpoints paint a detailed account of everything that happened at Cape Esperance.
I was very moved by this book, and I commend the author for the thoroughness and painstaking details within. In addition to honoring the men of the Duncan by sharing what truly happened, this book also acts as a warning to readers of the folly of believing everything that is shared through the media and "official" sources. The takeaway from this tale is to think for yourself, and if something you've been told doesn't add up, do your research.
I have no criticisms of The Gun Club; the writing is superb and the author did an excellent job of documenting his sources. The only change I might suggest would be to add a glossary of naval terms, as many readers may not be familiar with them. But this was a minor issue and in no way detracted from my enjoyment of this book.
The Gun Club is informative and captivating, and I give it 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in naval history, or military history in general.
The Gun Club
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