Thursday, February 10, 2011

“Bull” Halsey Revisited During Recent 8 Bells Lecture

---John Kennedy, Director of Museum Education and Public Outreach

L to R: John Kennedy, John Wukovits, and Richard Amaral
Mention the name of Admiral Bull Halsey and you will surely be able to evoke an opinion of the man and his accomplishments during World War II. As pointed out by John Wukovits, the Eight Bells lecturer on 28 January, Halsey does not fare well with many historian or people who view history through contemporary, political correctness. Yet, “Bull” Halsey was definitely a man of his time.

Admiral “Bull” Halsey: The Life and Wars of the Navy’s Most Controversial Commander is the latest book by John Wukovits about World War II in the Pacific. In his presentation, Mr. Wukovits went to great links to emphasize that Halsey’s performance during the war was really a story in two parts. The first part was from 1941 to early-1944. This part was highly successful. The second part was in 1944 until the end of the war. This phase met with mixed success and is often the time cited by his many critics.

Halsey had several facets that made him the right man for the job. He was aggressive and optimistic and, after putting his team together, was able to delegate responsibilities to its members. Additionally he understood the value of the American press and public relations. He even had a staff member assigned to maximize that exposure. Yet, above all characteristics attributed to Halsey by those who served with him was the simple fact that he took care of his people.

Wukovits speaks with NWC Archivist Dr. Evelyn Cherpak
More a reactive commander than a reflective leader, his rashness led to errors in judgment as he single-mindedly pursued the enemy. He was in the war from the beginning to the end and the people back home loved him. Even when he ran his forces through a hurricane and later when he divided his forces to pursue a Japanese force, both incidences leading to the loss of many ships and great loss of life, his star barely dimmed with the public.

The museum is pleased to announce more lectures in February and March. Please see the list below and check the facebook page for more information.


February 10 – Digesting History by Hal M. Friedman

March 3 – Uncommon Valor: The Medal of Honor and the Six Warriors Who Earned it in Afghanistan and Iraq by Dwight Zimmerman and John Gresham.

March 10 – Maritime Power and the Law of the Sea: Expeditionary Operations in World Politics by CDR James Kraska.

 March 29 – The Great Wall at Sea: China’s Navy in the Twenty-first Century by Bernard "Bud" Cole.

The format of the Eight Bells Lecture Series has the author speaking about 40-45 minutes on the topic of his book and the facts leading to its publication. The last 15-20 minutes are given over for audience members to ask questions on the topic. For those who are able to remain after the allotted hour can stay and discuss the book further and have the book signed. Copies of the books are on sale in the Naval War College Foundation Gift Shop. As always, this event is a brown-bag affair which is free and open to the public. For those without Department of Defense ID cards, please call the Museum at least one work day in advance at 841-2101 to make reservations for any of these events or to visit the Museum.

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