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United States Coast Guard Auxiliary - History Program

National Public Affairs Historian's Reading List Banner

The Auxiliary National Chief Historian’s

“Top 10” Reading List

(of Auxiliary-Related and Overall Coast Guard History)

The USCG Aux History 1939-1999 Book Cover The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary: A History 1939-1999 (Washington: GPO, 2003), by the late John A. Tilley, Associate Professor of History at Eastern Carolina University. The definitive study of the Auxiliary from its inception through the end of the 20th century.
The Modern History of Recreational Boating Safety Book Cover The Modern History of Recreational Boating Safety (Washington: National Safe Boating Council, 2011), by Adrienne Kinnane. This book explores fifty years of recreational boating safety through 2011, but also focuses on the organizations (including the Auxiliary) that were involved in defining, promoting, and enforcing safe boating.
A Coast Guardsman's History of the US Coast Guard Book Cover A Coast Guardsman’s History of the Coast Guard (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2010), by C. Douglas Kroll. The author is a 1971 graduate of the USCG Academy who served as a Coast Guard officer and later as a U.S. Navy Reserve officer in the Chaplain Corps. In addition, Kroll was an Auxiliarist and Professor Emeritus of History, College of the Desert, Palm Desert, California. According to former Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral (ret.) James Loy, Kroll’s book “opens the window to the Coast Guard’s past and begins to tell those stories and identifies those heroes for all to appreciate . . . .” It includes a chapter that focuses on notable Auxiliarists. Mr. Kroll passed away in August 2021.
Guardians of the Sea Book Cover
Guardians of the Sea: History of the United States Coast Guard, 1915-Present (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1987), by the late Robert Erwin Johnson. Although it is nearly three and a half decades old and in dire need of updating (its chronology ends around 1980), Guardians remains the most thorough, scholarly history of the modern Coast Guard.
US Coast Guard in World War II Book Cover U.S. Coast Guard in WWII (Oxford: Osprey, 2010). Written by Auxiliarist Alex de Quesada, the long-time Staff Historian (ADSO-PA-H) of District 7, this lavishly illustrated book is an excellent overview of the role of the Coast Guard, Reserve, Temporary Reserve and Auxiliary during WWII.
Rogue Wave: The US Coast Guard on and after 9/11 Book Cover Rogue Wave: The U.S. Coast Guard on and after 9/11 (Washington: USCG Historian’s Office, 2003), by Chief Petty Officer (ret.) P. J. Capelotti, USCGR. Capelloti, a retired Reservist and a professor of anthropology and archeology at Penn State, has written the official history of the Coast Guard’s response (including the USCGR and the Auxiliary) to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The Barque of Saviors Book Cover The Barque of Saviors: Eagle’s Passage from the Nazi Navy to the U.S. Coast Guard (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2001), by Russell Drumm. Written by a journalist who sailed with Coast Guard Academy third-classmen on their summer cruise in 1996, this book explores the history of the sailing ship now known as the Eagle (built by Nazi Germany as the Horst Wessel), and still used as a training vessel for United States Coast Guard officer candidates and cadets. It is both a “travel log” and history of “America’s Tall Ship.”


America's Lighthouse Illustrated History Book Cover America’s Lighthouses: An Illustrated History (New York: Dover Publications, 1988), by Francis Ross Holland, Jr. First published in 1972 and written by a National Park Service Historian, this illustrated, scholarly volume was the first full-scale study of the US Lighthouse Service.
The Finest Hours Book Cover The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue (New York: Scribner’s, 2010), by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman. The tale of the USCG’s heroic, almost miraculous 1952 nighttime, winter rescue of survivors of the doomed tankers Pendleton and Mercer off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass. The book served as the basis of the 2016 movie of the same name.
Captain Hell Roaring Book Cover Captain “Hell Roaring” Mike Healy: From American Slave to Arctic Hero (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2009), by USCG Senior Chief Petty Officer (ret.), Dennis Noble, Ph.D. and Truman Strobridge. The biography of one of the most celebrated yet controversial officers of the US Revenue Cutter Service, and the most famous skipper of the USRC Bear, the most iconic vessel in the history of the Coast Guard and its predecessors. The USCG icebreaker Healy is his namesake.