Without visible symbol.
The fallen and the charge.
The new book from eminent naval historian James Hornfischer, Who Can Hold the Sea, arrived yesterday, and it looks as worthwhile as you’d expect from any Hornfischer work on America’s maritime history. The book is on the United States Navy’s efforts to defend the country in the two opening decades of the Cold War, and what could be a more timely topic now that a new era of Great-Power confrontation is upon us?
What is immediately arresting about it, though, is not the subject matter: it is the dedication page. Here is what Hornfischer wrote:
To all the U.S. men and women who have served in uniform
for a better Afghanistan since September 11, 2001.
Your valor matters.
One may think it strange, or somehow out of place in light of events. But James Hornfischer died on June 1st, 2021. The fall of Kabul was ten weeks later; the final American flight from Afghanistan was twelve weeks later. He never saw, nor perhaps foresaw, the American defeat there — and so he never had the opportunity to revise his dedication page. It is interesting to consider whether he would have wished to: it seems neither his wife, nor his editor, nor his publisher, did.
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