Specialists in modern naval history recognize that the cruise books produced by ships and other naval units are of major value for their research. Informal and nonofficial in nature (they sometimes are compared to college yearbooks), these publications offer insights into the daily activities and attitudes of naval people from the perspective of a unit's crew. Cruise books dating from the World War II years are rare today, but they are of special note because of the intense interest by veterans, writers, and scholars in a conflict that involved the entire American nation and engulfed most of the rest of the world. This interest is heightened by the series of World War II fiftieth anniversaries being celebrated in the United States and abroad at the present time.
Considering the significance of these sources, the reader will understand why Mr. John Vajda, Director of the Navy Department Library, and I were delighted to learn several years ago that Dean L. Mawdsley, a retired California physician, was preparing a catalog of World War II naval cruise books held by American libraries and collectors. The project grew out of the author's personal book-collecting hobby. But it soon became evident that Dean Mawdsley was the national authority on his subject. The scope of his contribution is indicated by the fact that this bibliography identifies more than 700 individual cruise books held in twelve libraries, plus a number of private collections, located throughout the United States. The Naval Historical Center is deeply grateful to Dr. Mawdsley for allowing us to publish his major contribution to the bibliography of United States naval history.
A number of other individuals who became associated with this project deserve acknowledgment. As Dr. Mawdsley notes, the late Charles E. Dornbusch, formerly of the New York Public Library, prepared three union lists of naval and military unit histories in the early 1950s that served as a model for the present work. Within the Naval Historical Center, Dr. Mawdsley worked closely with Mr. Vajda, an accomplished bibliographer himself, who provided invaluable advice and assisted Dr. Mawdsley in consulting the rich cruise book collection of the Navy Department Library. Finally, Ms. Sandra J. Doyle, the Naval Historical Center's Senior Editor, must be singled out for praise. With consummate skill, she guided this complex manuscript through the publication process. A major goal of the Naval Historical Center is to encourage research in U.S. naval history by disseminating information on the basic sources in that field. As the nation and the United States Navy commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of World War II, we are especially pleased to bring forth a new bibliography of the naval cruise books of that conflict.
Dean C. Allard
Director of Naval History