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April 29 , 2008

A Man's World


A Man's World 

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Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy 1887-1941

One of the great spectacles of recent naval history was the Imperial Japanese Navy's instrumental role in Japan's rise from an isolationist feudal kingdom to a potent military empire, stridently confronting, in 1941, the world's most powerful nation. Years of painstaking research of previously untapped Japanese-language sources have produced this…

All books should have a preface, to tell what they are about and why they were written. 

This one is about myself—Arnold Whitman. 

I have sought in vain for a title which would be truly descriptive of the subject and form of my book. It is not a "Journal" nor a "Diary" for these words signify a daily noting down of events. Neither "Memoirs" nor "Recollections" meet the case, for much which I have written might better be called "Meditations." It certainly is not a "Novel," for that term implies a traditional "literary form," a beginning, development and end. I am quite sure that my beginning goes back to the primordial day when dead matter first organized itself—or was organized—into a living cell. And whether or not I will ever "end" is an open question. There is no "unity" in the form of my narrative except the frame of mind which led me to write it, which has held me to task till now. 

It is the story of how I, born at the close of The Great War, lived and of the things—common-place and unusual—which happened to me, how they felt at the time and how I feel about them now. 

"Autobiography" is the term which most truly describes what I have tried to do. But that word is associated with the idea of great men. The fact that I am not "great" has been my main incentive in writing. We have text books a plenty on how to become Emperor, at least they tell how a man named Napoleon did it. There are endless volumes to which you may refer if you wish to become President of these United States—or rival the career of Captain Kidd. But such ambitions are rare among boys over eighteen.

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