Sheppard of the Argonne: Alternative History Naval Battles of WWII

MWSA Review

“Sheppard of the Argonne” is a fast read, and once the action starts, it becomes a book that keeps your attention through to its dramatic conclusion. 

Although not fully physically or emotionally recovered from painful leg injuries sustained in combat near Pearl Harbor, Captain Sheppard McCloud was honored to receive command on one of the Navy’s most modern battle cruisers in 1942. Plagued with self-doubt and guilt following the loss of many of his men and the extensive damage to his previous ship, he struggles to put his mission and instincts first.

On Sheppard’s first cruise as skipper of the Argonne, he is part of America’s first naval task force ordered to take the war to the German fleet in the eastern Atlantic.

In this well written historical novel by an author who is a retired Navy captain, the reader sees the action unfolding not only from Sheppard’s perspective but also from the viewpoint of commanders in other vessels and aircraft. The battle scenes are vivid, the descriptions authentic, horrific, and detailed without being overburden with jargon and minutia 

“Sheppard of the Argonne” is a story of a complex battle involving carriers, cruisers, submarines and aircraft. Although skillfully presented from the perspectives of American, German and British characters, it is primarily Sheppard’s story as he works to keep his ship afloat and fighting in a battle that teeters on the edge of disaster. 

There are no stereotypes portrayed here, rather men pushed to their limits in courage, decision-making, and training. I find the book a compelling read and as useful in providing sound leadership advice as it is entertaining.  “Sheppard of he Argonne” is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Joe Epley(2015)

Author's Summary

Captain Sheppard McCloud, a hero of the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor and “savior” of the west coast from air attack, must hide his post-traumatic stress from senior officers and subordinates alike in an age that considered its symptoms cowardice. Though still suffering from both his physical and psychological wounds, the Navy brass has decided they need their best Captain back in command of the latest capital ship—the battle cruiser Argonne. With less than a day until they leave on a mission that could decide the fate of the allied cause, Sheppard must rally his officers and men, gain their confidence, and build them into a team. Leadership challenges abound, as the task force that includes the Argonne crosses the Atlantic they confront submarines, aircraft, and finally enemy surface ships, in exciting battles vividly described, culminating in that rarest of actual battles—a gun duel between capital ships. The novel has been carefully researched to accurately reflect the customs, traditions, and equipment the United States Navy used to win a two ocean war. Much of the hardware from the novel can be seen on board the battleship memorials to the greatest generation. Notes G. William Weatherly is a pen name for a retired U.S. Navy Captain with 30 years of service and command of three ships. His last assignment was as a professor of operations and chairman of the Joint Military Operations Department at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He is a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.