Monday, February 10, 2014

My Washington Times Review Of "Act Of War: Lyndon Johnson, North Korea, And the Capture Of The Spy Ship Pueblo

My review of Jack Cheevers' Act of War: Lyndon Johnson, North Korea, and the Capture of the Spy Ship Pueblo appeared today in the Washington Times.

I was a high school student in 1968 eagerly waiting for my 17th birthday in 1969 so I could enlist in the U.S. Navy when the USS Pueblo was captured by the North Koreans. I recall that I was angry with the communists for taking the Pueblo, and I was especially angry with President Johnson  for doing so little to rescue the ship and the crew.

Reading Jack Cheever’s “Act of War: Lyndon Johnson, North Korea and the Capture of the Spy Ship Pueblo” rekindled my earlier anger — and then some.

Mr. Cheevers' book recounts the famous Cold War drama in January 1968 when a 176-foot electronic intelligence ship, equipped with tall antennae rather than top guns, and manned by a youthful crew of 83, was captured by North Korean patrol boats off the coast of Wonsan.

When the Pueblo’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Lloyd "Pete" Bucher, tried to sail away, the spy ship was pursued by the patrol boats. The patrol boats opened fire with shells and machinegun fire, killing one American sailor and wounding 10 others. Bucher felt he had no choice but to heave to and allow the North Koreans to board the Pueblo. The North Koreans took the crew prisoner and took control of the U.S. spy ship.

“Act of War” goes on to tell the horrific story of the crew’s brutal treatment by North Korea and the crew’s heroic — and humorous — efforts to survive while resisting the communists as much as possible.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:


  1. Act of War is a great book. I was CTO2 when the incident happened. The treatment of the crew by NKs and USN (abandonment at sea and later Court of Inquiry) was horrible.

  2. R.T.,

    I agree.

    President Nixon's Secretary of the Navy, John Chafee was one of the heroes of the story, in my view, for refusing to take action against Bucher and others, stating that they had suffered enough.