The Indestructible Man
Contributor: David Stubblebine
Review Date: 21 Aug 2019
Full Title: The Indestructible Man: The True Story of World War II Hero "Captain Dixie"
The Indestructible Man is a biography of Dixie Kiefer, which is to say it is mostly a description of his career in the United States Navy from the end of World War I to just beyond the end of World War II. Dixie Kiefer's most prominent accomplishment as a Navy man (and there were many) was that he commanded the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga from her commissioning until she was heavily damaged in an air attack that also badly injured Kiefer himself. Once he had recovered from his wounds enough to resume shore duty, Kiefer was promoted to Commodore (1-star admiral) and given a stateside assignment as he finished his healing. While in that post, just three months after World War II ended, Commodore Kiefer was killed in a plane crash when the plane he was a passenger in struck Mount Beacon, New York on a rainy, foggy day in November.
This book on Kiefer's life and death grew out of the passion co-author David Rocco had for Mount Beacon. He is a resident of that area and he was first attracted to the hillside crash site as a hiking destination. From there, he became interested in who was aboard the airplane in 1945 and the more he learned about Dixie Kiefer, the more interested he became in the details of Kiefer's career, which is a small wonder since Dixie Kiefer was a pretty colorful character.
Don Keith, the other co-author, has written other books on a variety of topics and by all appearances his contribution to this book revolved around crafting Mr. Rocco's research on Dixie Kiefer into a workable text. If that is correct (or even if it isn't), the collaboration worked and the result is a very readable story of Commodore Kiefer's life and career packed with lots of details from many lesser known sources.
My feelings are that The Indestructible Man is an interesting book about an interesting man and I do not hesitate to recommend it. My only gripe is that while the book clearly draws on many sources, it barely lists any of them. The authors state the decision to not annotated the book was deliberate so as to not interfere with the flow of the storytelling and I completely understand that. Nevertheless, while not a very serious drawback, I feel the book would have benefitted from at least a simple bibliography.
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939