Clint Johnson, a 1971 graduate of DeSoto County High School, has published his 14th history book with a major publisher. “Tin Cans & Greyhounds: The Destroyers That Won Two World Wars” was released Tuesday by Regnery History of Washington, D.C. The book traces the history of naval destroyers of four nations; United States, Great Britain, Japan and Germany from the creation of the ship class through the end of World War II.
Johnson credits his teachers at DeSoto High with helping create the foundation he needed for his writing career.
“I owe my writing skills and interest in history to the DeSoto County teachers I had in the 1960s and early ‘70s,” he said. “Miss Margaret Hays was my first- and third-grade teacher. She gave our class stability as we went through two other teachers in the first-grade. Miss Frances Pooser instilled in me a love of history in the fourth-grade. Mrs. Joy Barnard Tinsley was my seventh-grade English teacher who taught me the basics of writing. Mr. Sam McDowell was my eighth-grade composition teacher who taught me how to put a story together. Later, Miss Sydney Anderson was my journalism teacher who taught me how to write a news story.
“Several years ago,” he added, “I gave a talk and signed books at the DeSoto County Library. Miss Hays, Miss Pooser and Mrs. Barnard Tinsley came out to hear me. I had dedicated one of my books to them and apologized in the dedication to ‘still dangling my participles, not being able to diagram a sentence, and still not understanding what a gerund is.’ Mrs. Barnard stood up and started reciting the textbook definition of a gerund. She was still trying to teach me something all those decades later.”
Johnson is the son of Clinton Johnson Sr., a farmer in Hardee County, and Laura Hartsfield Johnson, who spent decades teaching in Hardee and DeSoto counties. Today he lives in Ashe County, N.C.
Johnson graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Florida in 1975. He spent the next several decades writing for newspapers and magazines. He wrote his first book in 1996. Most have been about the American Civil War. He also ghosted the autobiography of famed basketball coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines. www.clintjohnsonbooks.com.
About “Tin Cans & Geyhounds: The Destroyers That Won Two World Wars”
The battleships may have been the targets of the Japanese at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, but those were the wrong targets. Instead of bombing pre-World War I vintage battleships, the Japanese should have gone after the 55 destroyers based at Pearl. The six battleships refloated at Pearl Harbor won only 32 battle stars for the rest of the war. The Pearl-based destroyers won 432 battle stars, meaning they were engaged in 432 battles.
It was disarmament talks in the 1930s that ironically allowed the U.S. to modernize its aging WWI-era fleet of destroyers. Still, those remaining WWI-era destroyers played major roles in winning WWII when many were converted to fast attack transports, mine layers, mine sweepers and seaplane tenders.
Clint Johnson details the history of destroyers from 1874 through the end of World War II. He covers the destroyers of Great Britain (which developed the ship type), as well as Japan (which refined the type in the 1920s), United States (which perfected it with the Fletcher and Allen M. Sumner classes) and Germany (which designed lousy destroyers that failed in their first major battle).