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World War II Naval History
Eighty years ago, in 1943, the U.S. and its allies were fighting World War II at sea on two major fronts—the Atlantic and Pacific—with an American navy largely built since the devastating, fleet-destroying attack on Pearl Harbor a year earlier. Now Roosevelt House invites you to hear two of the most prominent naval historians, Paul Kennedy of Yale and Craig L. Symonds of the Naval Academy, as they discuss this astonishing American recovery and explore the battles and leaders who defeated the Axis on the high seas.
By 1945, modern American naval forces had emerged victorious—vanquishing the navies of Japan and Germany, having triumphed in huge engagements that marked the emergence of the submarine and the aircraft carrier as the premier weapons of modern war. By 1945, the U.S. was the unquestioned ruler of the high seas.
This astonishing re-birth was accomplished under the leadership of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the commander-in-chief who had served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the First World War. FDR not only worked closely with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his own Secretary of the Navy, he encouraged the new generation of American naval heroes like Halsey and Nimitz, took trips of his own on naval vessels, and perhaps most important of all, greenlit the intense construction program that produced the ships and planes that won the war at sea.
Please join us for a very special program that brings together for the first time two of the country’s most honored naval historians for a deep dive into the naval war—Roosevelt’s leading role—and the engagements and commanders that turned the tide against the Axis. We are honored to welcome Professors Paul Kennedy and Craig Symonds for a discussion, reception, and book-signing.
Paul Kennedy is the J. Richardson Dilworth Professor of History and Director of International Security Studies at Yale University, and also Distinguished Fellow of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy. British born, and educated at Newcastle University and Oxford, he was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000 and elected a Fellow of the British Academy in June 2023. His books include the classic The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000; Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned the Tide in the Second World War; and the recent Victory at Sea: Naval Power and the Transformation of the Global Order in World War II.
Craig L. Symonds is Professor of History Emeritus at the U. S. Naval Academy and former Distinguished Ernest J. King Visiting Professor of Maritime History at the U. S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I. The winner of the 2009 Lincoln Prize for Lincoln and His Admirals, his latest books are World War II at Sea: A Global History, and Nimitz at War: Command Leadership from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay. Symonds has also won the Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt award (for his 2005 book Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles that Shaped American History), along with the Samuel Eliot Morrison Award for naval literature and the Commodore Dudley W. Knox Naval History Lifetime Achievement Award.