Book Review: Annapolis Classmate of Josh Welle Criticizes Candidate’s Book on War


WASHINGTON, DC-Josh Welle, a navy veteran and candidate for the office of Congress in New Jerseys’ 4th congressional district is also the author of a book entitled “In the Shadow of Greatness: Voices of Leadership, Sacrifice, and Service from America’s Longest War”.

Welle is under fire from voters and having a rough time in politics. After branding several towns in his district as racist, he’s now being called out for unpaid taxes through his business, but this book gives a different perspective of the candidate’s life.

Welle’s book tells the stories of the U.S. Naval Academy’s class of 2002 and their trials and tribulations from green, inexperienced boot officers and their career journeys through training, deployment, war and loss, and the occasional fitness center aboard a navy boat.  The class of 2002 was the first post-9/11 graduating class at the naval academy.

The book has received both praise and criticism from his fellow classmates and readers.

“Some stories were touching and most were boring. There was a significant bias towards the stakeholders of this book during publication, where their stories (no matter how mundane, like putting a weight room on a ship) were given head-of-line privileges for authorship,” said 2002 alumni who used the name “JR” for privacy concerns. “I got my copy and was appalled how little most stories had to do with any real aspects of war: service, loss, sacrifice, regret, emotional strain, triumph, etc. There were a few that floored me, and spoke volumes about my academy classmates, while other stories should’ve been chopped in the editing room.”

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JR, like many veterans, remained humble about his service.  Very few of us ever think of the job we did as heroic, let alone, “in the shadow of greatness”, regardless.  Every veteran who has ever served was assigned a job and those who made it through their 4 years, or their careers in one peace left thankful, but rarely revere themselves in the same light as those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

“Was I in the shadow of greatness as a member of USNA class of 2002?” JR asked.  “I don’t know and I’m not even sure what that means. I do know that a lot of my classmates have sacrificed much more than me, and some made the ultimate sacrifice. Those are the people who cast a shadow of greatness, and very few were heard in this book.”

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Another Naval Academy graduated also questioned Welle’s description of greatness.

“As a fellow USNA grad, I felt obligated to read it. But then I started to think, my classmates joined during a war(Vietnam), volunteering to go to war, not just thrown into it by chance, and the greatness seemed a bit of an overreach,” he said.

“One of the stories was about how me of these young officers managed to get a weight room approved and installed on board their ship. Worthy accomplishment, but makes for very boring reading. Granted, this was one of the least interesting but it had plenty of company. I don’t like being negative, but I regret buying this book,” said reader Mark W. Dobbins.

“I would like to have thought better of this book but it is a book and as a book it’s poorly written (in my opinion) and hard to sit through,” said Eric Klapton.

1971 Annapolis graduate James Rehkopf said, “This book was loaned to me by a friend, and, as a USNA 71 alum, I wanted it to be a great read. It wasn’t and isn’t. Yes, there are some inspiring stories by brave warriors, but there are too many mundane and boring accounts. I couldn’t finish it, and was glad I hadn’t spent money on it.
A much better book about Annapolis grads in war is The Nightingale’s Song, by Robert Timberg.”

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While the negative reviews of Welle’s book by his peers may have caught him with his pants, down, there were plenty of good reviews from the civilian base who could be more easily fooled with a mundane account of life in the service.

While getting a gym on a naval vessel may sound like the cover of a Wheaties box for civilians, those who served, especially those who served in combat roles had other things to worry about, like making it alive long enough to return home.

“Great stories from the first graduating class from the Naval Academy to face life after 9/11,” said Chuck Dirienzo.

Navy mom Kim McCarthy wrote, “Service beyond the duty. Thank you for sharing your stories. Proud USNA mom and sponsor mom!”

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