(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Brent E. Jones published the book “Days of Steel Rain: The Epic Story of a WWII Vengeance Ship in the Year of the Kamikaze” in 2021. This is his first book.
I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this book as ‘PG’ because it contains some scenes of violence. The book tells the story of the light cruiser USS Astoria during the last year of WWII.
The Astoria was a ‘vengeance ship’. The original USS Astoria (CS-34) had also been a cruiser. She was launched in December of 1933 and commissioned on April 28, 1934. She sank on August 9, 1942, after seeing action during the Battle of Savo Island. The USS Astoria (CL-90), the subject of this book, was launched on March 6, 1943, and commissioned on May 17, 1944. She was a vengeance ship because she was named after a prior ship lost in battle to the Japanese.
The book tells the story of CL-90. It describes the background of her construction and the corresponding difficulties. The book first follows her shakedown cruise to the vicinity of Bermuda. Soon after she began operations with the Pacific Fleet. Most of Astoria’s war experience was as a carrier escort.
U.S. Navy Captain George Dyer commanded the Astoria. He had to build the crew from what he was given. He had a few experience sailers, but most were fresh out of training or the rejects of other ships. In the months between commissioning and the end of the war, they became a tight and ready crew. It was at Okinawa where they faced their greatest challenge. It was there they faced their greatest challenge from the Japanese Kamikazes.
I thoroughly enjoyed the 11.5+ hours I spent reading this 401-page WWII naval history. The author does a good job of working excerpts from crew written letters and journals into the story. I had never heard of using spotter planes for air-sea rescue until reading this book. Cruisers and battleships carried catapult-launched amphibious planes. The Astoria’s pilots made many a rescue. Captain Dyer faced more challenges than I would have expected. The demands of assembling and training up his crew were greater than I would have thought for 1944. I like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.
My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).
If you have an interest in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest.
- The “World War II Resources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 530 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II era in history.
- The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
- The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.