Few American naval officers have been as unconventional as Edward
Ellsberg and still managed to rise to the rank of rear admiral.
This probing biography shows Ellsberg time and again confronting
the Navy's conservatism, service politics, and professional
jealousies to literally salvage the unsalvageable. Author John
Alden vividly describes Ellsberg's first public success in 1925
when he raised the sunken submarine S-51. Two years later he made
headlines again during an attempt to save six men trapped in the
In 1941 Ellsberg managed to refloat two Italian dry docks that
everyone considered unsalvageable. Then as Gen. Dwight D.
Eisenhower's salvage officer for North Africa, he unblocked the
sabotaged port of Oran, raised more dry docks, and rescued
torpedoed ships. In 1944 he was instrumental in preparing the
artificial harbors that made the Normandy landings a success. These
World War II accomplishments earned Ellsberg the Order of the
British Empire but only reluctant notice from his own navy,
although he exerted a lasting influence on U.S. submarine recovery
Taking full advantage of Ellsberg's extensive collection of
papers and archives on both sides of the Atlantic, this insightful
study is the first to focus on the determined admiral. A man of
many talents. Ellsberg also published a number of books, including
the very popular On the Bottom, which brought the story of
salvaging to public attention.
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