Through Bitter Seas; Nightstalkers

Reviewed and Highly Recommended by Don DeNevi
Being there . . . . to absorb in our final month of the vernal equinox two new Casemates, one
fiction, the other nonfiction, that are so diverse and captivating the reader is reduced to a state
of thralldom. Giftable books today are scarce after last December’s fabulous pre-Christmas
sales. Few and far between, some are available now, others on the way by the first of June. The
two announced below are among the dozen best titles thus far in 2023. On the fiction front,
“THROUGH BITTER SEAS”, by Phillip Parotti, Casemate Publishers, 2023, 243 pages, softcover,
6” x 9”, $24.95 (visit, casemate, deals with, of all possible ships, a
U.S. Navy rescue tug, the ATR-3X, off the coast of North Africa, then the eastern Mediterranean
Sea. After the German surrender in North Africa, Ensign Hal Goff and four other officers must
support the Allied invasion of Sicily and Italy, shepherding Navy ships to and from the bitter
fighting. With the Allied advance finally stopped cold along the Winter Line beneath Monte
Cassino, Hal and his ship become part of the grueling invasion of Anzio and the seemingly
endless stalemate across Anzio’s bloody beaches. Adventure after adventure follow in their
wake, mesmerizing reading at its best.
Of course, author Phillip Parotti is not new to us WWII adherents since most of us read and
were pleased with his riveting, “In the Shadows of Guadalcanal”, promoting Phil, in our eyes, to
one of the 10 most promising war novelists in our country thus far this century. Following his
1963 graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy and four years of service aboard destroyers, he
filled out the remainder of his naval career in the reserves. He spent over 30 years as a
Professor of English at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville. Today, he and his wife live in
Silver City, New Mexico, writing, undoubtedly, daily.
On the nonfiction side, Casemate gleefully presents us with “NIGHTSTALKERS – The Wright
Project and the 868 th Bomb Squadron in World War II”, by Richard Phillip Lawless. CASEMATE
Publishers: March 2023, 436 pages, hardcover, 7” x 9 ¾”; $44.95. Visit,
Here, the nonpareil publisher taps the experiences and narrative skill of another nonpareil,
author Richard Phillip Lawless. Wait until read the book, introducing you to this guy! But for
now, let’s discus what the Wright Project was all about. In the late summer of 1943, a very
special, highly classified US Army Air Force unit code-named the “Wright Project” quietly,
unobtrusively flew from Langley Field for Guadalcanal in the South Pacific to join the war
against Tojo. Under super-secret sealed orders drafted at the top level of the Army Air Force,
the Wright Project was one of America’s lethal plans to win World War II in the Pacific. In short,
it commingled our country’s latest technological inventions with the bravest and most
intelligent aviators in our Airforce. Ten B-24 Liberators and their full crews would handle and
operate the dashing new “crash-built” technologies. Nicknamed “the Nightstalkers”, the Wright
teams would fly only at night, primarily as lone hunters seeking out Japanese fleets or lone
transport and supply ships. By this approach, we believed we would introducing a new, higher

dimension of fighting in the Pacific. Thanks to the brilliant writing of Richard Lawless, we, as
enthusiasts of the war against Japan, are privy to the speed, thoroughness, and dedication of a
new technology rarely mentioned, let alone discussed, in the 1939-1945 post-war military
One of the surprising treasures of this unique, mesmerizing history, is meeting for the first-
time author Richard Phillip Lawless, a former CIA and Department of Defense Deputy
Undersecretary for Asian and Pacific Security between 2002-07. It was his personal dedication
and resoluteness to research and inform fellow Americans and, our No.1 ally, the British, the
complete story of the Wright Project. John Prados, another gifted, truly appreciated writer on
the Pacific War, author of “Islands of Destiny” and “Combined Fleet Decoded”, praises Richard,
“History is full of claims this or that technological change provided an advantage over the
Japanese. In ‘Nightstalkers’, he makes it all concrete. This is a limber romp across the world of
electronics and into the history of World War II. Going beyond palaver, Lawless traces a critical
development program through MIT’s Radiation Laboratory, showing how ultra-short-wave
radar was adapted for aircraft and a unit organized to prove the concept, then follows the
exploits of these men and their device right through to the Japanese surrender. ‘Nightstalkers’
illuminates U.S. tactics for night intruder operations, some critical battles, and reflects on the
potential for these capabilities.” Bravo! John . . . and thank you, Richard Lawless!