Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Read: "Bathtub Admirals" by Jeff Huber

Read: Bathtub Admirals by Jeff Huber, 2008, 9781601640192.

Humorous at points but not great. This is something that a Navy veteran would likely enjoy.

Follows Jack Hogan through his Navy career in the '80s until his retirement post 9/11. Hogan has a great brain but has to battle the jealousies and pettiness of fellow officers and commanding officers who spend more time advancing their careers or trying to sabotage each others than doing the work that needs doing. Meanwhile is personal life often takes a backseat and suffers.

Since Huber, the author, and Hogan, the character, share so many traits I assume this is mostly autobiographical. But, as the author writes in the "forecastle" (preface): Most of the major events described actually happened, but not the way I describe them. names, places and identifying scars were changed to protect the author. Some things I remembered wrong, some things I remembered wrong on purpose. Some things I forgot entirely and was too lazy to do any research, so I remembered something new.

Some of those changed names are obvious. Wesley Clark, Senator McCain, Admiral Boorda.

Hogan was a good character and the supporting cast was good too. Huber sets a lot of the story at sea and the interactions among officers and crews is neat to read. The long duty hours trying to stay awake at 3 AM by telling stories. Huber's ragging on the stupidity and arrogance of fighter pilots.

Exaggeration is throughout but you gotta worry about military efficiency and truthfulness with the BS Huber satirizes. Sending out fighter/bombers without operating missiles or E2s without operating radar. Fighting during the Kosovo War among the Army (in charge), Air Force (wanting to win a war on their own), and the Navy (trying to justify a fleet of ships in the area). The buddy system protects some while scapegoating the rest. The bizarre Catch-69 of don't ask don't tell. The years long fallout over Tailhook.

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