A fascinating memoir of World War II by one of FDR’s inner circle—a man who experienced the war from both the White House and the bridge of a warship.
Captain McCrea’s War chronicles Vice Adm. John L. McCrea’s experiences in WWII—working with President Franklin D. Roosevelt on difficult and unusual assignments, associating with royalty and world-famous political and military leaders, and commanding the USS Iowa and a task force in the Pacific.
McCrea served as a naval aide and set up the White House Map Room (now known as the Situation Room) and Shangri-La (now called Camp David). He supplied material for the president’s fireside chats, helped arrange the Casablanca Conference, and worked with such prominent leaders as Winston S. Churchill and Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
Despite his important work for the president, McCrea yearned for sea duty, and was given command of the country’s newest and largest battleship, the USS Iowa.
“Stands fair to supersede all others as the most touchingly human portrait of Franklin Roosevelt in World War II . . . For both general readers interested in WWII and historians of the presidency this book is a priceless gem.” —Nigel Hamilton, author of the FDR at War trilogy
“Essential reading for anyone interested in the strategic direction of World War II.” —Bill Yenne, author of Panic on the Pacific
“McCrea offers an unusual insight into the everyday routines of war even at its highest levels.” —Dennis Showalter, author of Armor and Blood
Skyhorse Publishing; November 2016
- ISBN: 9781510713246
- Read online, or download in secure EPUB format
- Title: Captain McCrea's War
- Author: John L. McCrea; Julia C. Tobey (ed.); Craig L. Symonds (other)
Imprint: Skyhorse Publishing
In The Press
“Readers of World War II history will applaud Julia C. Tobey’s act of love in preserving the memory of her stepfather. From his vantage point in the White House, at the Casablanca Conference with an array of world leaders, and in the pilothouse of one of America’s great battleships, John C. McCrea gives a compellingly candid view of events that will interest any student of World War II. Captain McCrea’s War is a fascinating look at the burdens of command at sea and the perils of high diplomacy in war. ” —James D. Hornfischer, author of The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944–1945
“McCrea began World War II as a staff man, rising to the position of Franklin Roosevelt’s naval aide, then assigned to command of the newly commissioned battleship USS Iowa. He depicts the problems of getting 50,000 tons of capital ship ready for war as no less a challenge than following the president from conference to conference and taking accurate notes. A skilled and engaging raconteur, McCrea offers an unusual insight into the everyday routinesof war even at its highest levels.” —Dennis Showalter, author of Armor and Blood: The Battle of Kursk, the Turning Point of World War II
“Captain McCrea’s War stands fair to supersede all others as the most touchingly human portrait of Franklin Roosevelt in World War II. Written as beautifully-narrated reminiscences in a modest, old world style, McCrea takes the reader through a unique naval journey: from the U.S. Navy Department to the President’s side as his naval aide in 1942—a job that climaxes as he accompanies FDR on his historic trip to the Casablanca conference in January 1943. Not content with this, McCrea then insisted on going back to sea, when he took combat command of the navy’s latest battleship, the USS Iowa. For bothgeneral readers interested in WWII and historians of the presidency this book is a priceless gem.” —Nigel Hamilton, author of the FDR at War trilogy
“Few people were closer to President Roosevelt than his naval aide, Admiral John McCrea. If you want to know FDR as a person—his character, his decency—read this book. McCrea, a tough-minded patriot, a conservative career naval officer, by the time he left the White House to assume command of the battleship IOWA, saw FDR as ‘a great and good man’ and a brilliant wartime leader. Historians generally agree that Franklin Roosevelt was the greatest President of the 20th century. This memoir helps us understand why.” —William Vanden Heuvel, founder, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute; former US ambassador to the United Nations
“I highly recommend Vice Admiral John L. McCrea’s memoirs, with a superb introduction by Julia C. Tobey. As a historian of Japan’s entry into a war it could not win, two entries, among many fascinating ones, caught my attention. First, McCrea’s description of the 1941 visit of Ambassador Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura to the US Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Harold Stark, during which the ambassador told Stark that he himself did not believe Japan had the resources to defeat the United States in a war, but that the decision makers in Tokyo did not seem to understand Japan’s limitations. Second, McCrea’s January 1941 sketch of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the Japanese officer who stated repeatedly that Japan could not defeat the United States in a long war, but then planned the attack on Pearl Harbor that insured the war would be long. This book is an important read for anyone interested in World War II in the Pacific because it gives the on-the-spot, wartime views of an important and well-placed US naval officer.” —Richard J. Smethurst, professor of history, University of Pittsburgh
“Admiral McCrea’s memoir sheds new light on the inner workings of the FDR administration. As naval aide to the thirty-second president, McCrea had daily access to Roosevelt and grew to love the man for his ineffable mix of jaunty optimism, bubbly good cheer and knife-at-the-throat cunning. Running the U.S. government has never been easy, and it may have been most difficult during World War II. McCrea describes how Roosevelt stopped leaks at their source, maneuvered personnel, and kept a firm grip on policy and strategy, without ever losing his delightful wit and charm.” —Geoffrey Wawro, author of Quicksand: America’s Pursuit of Power in the Middle East
“McCrea’s World War II memoir is that of a man who found himself in the right place at the right time. This book provides an unprecedented look into the inner workings of the White House at an important moment in history. We are fortunate that in later years, McCrea made it a point to record his memories of his experiences. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the strategic direction of World War II.” —Bill Yenne, author of Panic on the Pacific
“Captain John McCrea’s well-crafted memoirs offer an insightful behind-the-scenes look into the workings of the Roosevelt White House andMcCrea’s command of one of America’s greatest battleships, as well as sound advice for successful leadership.” —Walter R. Borneman, author of The Admirals and MacArthur at War
“An immensely important memoir by one of FDR’s inner circle of wartime military advisers. Filled with colorful and insightful anecdotes about the small ‘band of brothers’ who masterminded Allied victory over the Axis, Captain McCrea’s War will be an essential source for all future biographers of FDR, and for historians of the Second World War.” —Ian Toll, author of The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942–1944
About The Author
Vice Admiral John L. McCrea graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1915 and saw active duty in both World War I and World War II. He served as naval aide to FDR and was the first commander of the USS Iowa. After WWII he served as deputy commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet. He died in 1990, at the age of 98, in Needham, Massachusetts.
Julia C. Tobey worked as an editor, writer, and researcher before earning a law degree. Her stepfather was Vice Admiral John L. McCrea. After retiring from her law practice, she edited McCrea’s reminiscences to create this memoir. Tobey lives in New York City.