Robert E. Howard and the Pacific Fleet

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Robert E. Howard would have been 104 years old yesterday, if (a) he hadn’t killed himself, (b) none of his imagined enemies did either, and (c) he had mastered black sorcery enough to defy the ravages of time.

Unlike many modern fantasy writers, Howard had to read history and historical fiction to sate his yearnings for adventure, and he knew a thing or two about war — as evidenced by his thoughts on the Pacific fleet, which he put down in a letter to H.P. Lovecraft, in December of 1932:

Considering the Philippines — if we were allowed to fortify them, they would be a strength. As it is, they’re a weakness. Instead of being a rifle aimed at the heart of Japan (as would be the case were they fortified and a goodly portion of our Pacific fleet stationed there), they tend to divide our forces, to scatter our lines, and to subject American citizens to danger, in case of war with Japan. I think it would be a point of strategy to abandon those islands entirely, and concentrate our forces about Hawaii. That Japan would gobble them is certain, but I scarcely think they would add much to her ultimate strength, increased as it is so enormously by her grabbing of Manchuria.

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