Cavite, November 1941

. . . the tension that gripped the naval base at Cavite was palpable. A war warning was circulating. Aware of the Asiatic Fleet’s vulnerability in Manila, Admiral Hart scattered the vessels. The Houston was stripped down for action. The admiral’s flag quarters were cleared of all unnecessary accoutrements. The nicer furniture was stored ashore in Manila, including the silver service and the baby grand piano . . . A shore patrol went to round up stragglers still on liberty.

Ship of Ghosts, p. 31

Quote of the Day: 3rd Wednesday of December 2021

The wind is blowing something fierce over the Mendocino Headlands. Self simply cannot believe it, but she has been seeing cars drive slowly down Main Street, all day long. She dare not confess to anyone that she finds the howling wind extremely disconcerting.

Self is on Part One of Ship of Ghosts, “On Asia Station.” Admiral Albert Harold Rooks, Captain of the USS Houston, writes his wife Edith from his station on Cavite, the Philippines:

  • “Well, September is almost gone . . . Day after tomorrow it will be one month since I took over the Houston, and two months since I left you in Honolulu. That makes two twenty-sixths of the time, or 1/13 gone. When you say it that way, it doesn’t sound so interminable, does it?”

New Book

Finished reading The Man Who Died Twice. That novel was such a beauty. It was full of warmth and relationships and affection and dashed hopes and plot twists and surprises and, most of all, characters that stay with you. The Thursday Murder Club rules! FIVE STARS.

She had some trouble deciding what to read next, but finally settled on:

She loved James D. Hornfischer’s The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, about the Battle of Leyte Gulf. She adores the author’s writing style. He is peerless in describing sea battles.

Ship of Ghosts is not truly about a battle but about the men who survived the sinking of their ship. Nevertheless, the opening sets the scene in just a few paragraphs: Surabaya, the Flores Sea, Java. A fifty-year-old Admiral. Throttlemen and water tenders and machinists. It is already very exciting.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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