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USS PORTLAND CA-35 HEAVY CRUISER: SWEET PEA AT WAR. Perhaps the best researched and written combat history of a cruiser in the Pacific War, and of one of WWII's great American fighting ships.

Click to EnlargeThe USS Portland: SWEET PEA AT WAR. By William Thomas Generous Jr. Few ships in American history have had as illustrious a history as the heavy cruiser USS Portland (CA-33), affectionately known by her crew as “Sweet Pea.” With the destruction of most of the U.S. battleship fleet at Pearl Harbor, cruisers such as Sweet Pea carried the biggest guns the Navy possessed for nearly a year after the start of World War II.

Sweet Pea at War describes in harrowing detail how Portland and her sisters protected the precious carriers and held the line against overwhelming Japanese naval strength. Portland was instrumental in the dramatic American victories at the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Battle of Midway, and the naval battle of Guadalcanal—conflicts that historians regard as turning points in the Pacific war. She rescued nearly three thousand sailors from sunken ships, some of them while she herself was badly damaged. Only a colossal hurricane ended her career, but she sailed home from that, too. Based on extensive research in official documents and interviews with members of the ship’s crew, Sweet Pea at War recounts from launching to scrapping the history of USS Portland, demonstrating that she deserves to be remembered as one of the most important ships in U.S. naval history.

312 pages; photos; maps.

William Thomas Generous Jr., adjunct associate professor of Peace, War, and Defense at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is the author of two other books. He lives in Carrboro, North Carolina.


“In a richly documented and literate study, Generous . . . records definitively the contribution to the Allied cause of a remarkable American ship. His absorbing and often witty narrative adds greatly to our understanding of World War II naval operations."--Pacific War

“Generous writes about the tremendous importance of large cruisers, focusing on the USS Portland, in defending the homeland in the years immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor.”—Sea Power

“Generous’s clear, sometimes witty, and often eloquent prose gives his reader not only a sense of what those men went through and felt, but as a naval historian he also skillfully embodies the ‘Sweet Pea’ into the larger strategy of the great Pacific Naval War that masterfully helped to defeat the Japanese Empire.”—Carl N. Degler, author of Out of Our Past: The Forces That Shaped Modern America.

“A well-written, extensively documented, important account, which adds considerably to our understanding of World War II naval history.”—Robert Love, Professor of History, U.S. Naval Academy, author of History of the U.S. Navy.

“Sweet Pea at War is the best researched and written history of a combat cruiser in the Pacific War, admirably focused on the individual sailor and officer of all ranks. Essential for every library and personal collection of naval history titles.”—Clark G. Reynolds, author of The Fast Carriers and The Fighting Lady.

“The Portland was one of the great unsung ships of World War II and her story deserves to be told. Accessible and of interest to both scholars and general readers, Sweet Pea at War is the definitive history of one of World War II's great American fighting ships.”—James W. Grace, author of The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal

“Generous weaves a great deal of technical detail, exhaustive research, and a remarkable human touch into a fine story.”—Chote Rosemary Hall

“An enjoyable book. Well-written and carefully researched, using numerous interviews with the crew, it provides a first-hand view of what it was like to fight in the naval battles of World War II.”—Bowling Green Daily News

“Portland participated in almost every naval engagement of the war and was the only American unit in all three of the major battles—Coral Sea, Midway, and Leyte Gulf.”—Associated Press

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Item Details
World War II
Naval Warfare
Softcover book
Ship Histories

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