Looking for a good read? Here is a recommendation. I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review. You do not have to agree with everything every author has written (I do not), but the fiction I review is entertaining (and often thought-provoking) and the non-fiction contain ideas worth reading.
Reviewed by Mark Lardas
November 26, 2023
“A World War Two Secret: Glenn P. Larson and the U-505,” by Beverly Larson Christensen, L&R Publishing, LLC, 2022, 164 pages, $12.95 (paperback) $4.99 (e-book)
Glenn Larson was a 19-year-old North Dakota farm boy when the United States entered World War II. He volunteered for the U.S. Navy in December 1942. He could have gotten an agricultural deferment, but wanted to serve. Later, he was aboard the USS Guadalcanal when it captured the U-505 German submarine.
“A World War Two Secret: Glenn P. Larson and the U-505” by Beverly Larson Christensen tells his story. Larson participated in the capture of the first enemy warship taken on the high seas by the U.S. Navy since the War of 1812.
Christensen gives a picture of her father growing up on the family farm. She recounts Larsen’s naval career when he joined up: boot camp in Idaho, training as an electrician, assignment to the Guadalcanal when not yet in commission, and how Larson became part of the submarine’s capture.
Christensen puts the U-505’s capture in context, discussing the Battle of the Atlantic, the construction of that submarine, and of the escort carrier USS Guadalcanal, one of 50 “jeep” carriers built on civilian hulls in less than two years.
Larson’s brothers also served in the military. Duane was an Army Air Force pilot in Europe and Wayne worked with communications in the U.S. Army.
Larson married Clara Schweigert, a North Dakota girl, and Christensen’s mother. This background helps readers understand how the war affected everyone’s lives, especially their postwar careers.
The heart of the book is Larson’s service aboard USS Guadalcanal. He was part of the crew that brought the ship into commission, and he remained with it until May 1945. Christensen describes Larson’s participation in the capture of the U-505, including his onboard visit after its capture, and his experiences on the Guadalcanal following the capture.
Larson participated in eight anti-submarine cruises, including one where an Atlantic storm damaged the Guadalcanal. Larson went on to become an oiler in the Pacific and carried out occupation duty in Japan.
Christensen writes a family history, one representative of the over four million men who joined the Navy during World War II. Like Larson, these young men left farms and factories to serve their country. Many had moments of high adventure, like Larson’s participation in the capture of the U-505. Like Larson, most of their career consisted of everyday activities.
“A World War Two Secret” reminds readers of that war. These stories were familiar to the sons and daughters of those who served but are being increasingly forgotten as the World War II veterans pass from the scene.
Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City, TX. His website is marklardas.com. This review appeared in a different form in Epoch Times.