But Is It Literature?

“I thought it was terrible what he did, to write a letter. This isn’t a class on literature. This is a captain of a massive ship that’s nuclear-powered,” Trump said at a news briefing Saturday evening. “The letter was a five-page letter from a captain, and the letter was all over the place. That’s not appropriate. I don’t think that’s appropriate.”

USS Theodore Roosevelt
By U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Larry Hess – Navy photo 041210-N-3685H-002 from [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3697483
That’s Trump’s reaction to Captain Brett Crozier’s letter of distress at the situation of his crew on the USS Theodore Roosevelt when the numbers of COVID-19 cases among them was growing.

What was not appropriate, of course, was Crozier’s firing and Trump’s reaction. Crozier did what all good commanders do: he acted out of concern for the people under his command and not his own, something his command-in-chief could take a lesson from.

Maybe, though, it should be a class on literature, thought it may have to be one for a student who doesn’t read. But let’s assume we could get Donald to read: What books with naval themes and settings might teach him something on the responsibilities of command? My syllabus for such a course (taken off the top of my head) might include these:

Beach, Edward. Run Silent, Run Deep

De Hartog, Jan. The Captain.

Forester, C. F. The Captain from Connecticut or any of the Hornblower novels.

Melville, Herman. Moby DIck.

Nordhoff, Charles and James Norman Hall, Mutiny on the Bounty.

O’Brian, Patrick. The Mauritius Command or any other of the Aubrey-Maturin novels.

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.

Wouk, Herman. The Caine Mutiney.

The term paper might be built around the question, “What makes a good Commander?”

They say it is never too late to learn. I’m still trying and I’m almost 70. Donald is a little older but, as the line from “Six Days on the Road” might have it, ‘that don’t mean he’s slow.’

I’d be perfectly happy to set up a special course for him, if someone would makes sure he reads or, at least, reads the books to him.

After all, maybe what he needs is “a class on literature.”


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