In 1949 Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson canceled a pet carrier project of the U.S. Navy while supporting the Air Force's B-36 heavy bomber program. A terrific feud between the services broke out, in which Navy personnel leveled dark accusations of malfeasance at Air Force officials. In the ensuing feud over nuclear weapons--equipped bombers and the importance of carrier aviation, a chief of naval operations found himself forced out of office in what became known as "the revolt of the admirals."
Barlow's scholarly study is sympathetic to the admirals, and he argues that their congressional testimony and lobbying helped lay the foundations for the recovery of carrier aviation during the 1950s. Yet this book is also valuable as a study of civilian-military relations in a time of uncertain geopolitics, technological flux, limited financial resources, and interservice competition--a time, in short, that in important respects resembles our own.