Clint Johnson of Ashe County learned a lot of facts about naval history when he started researching his latest book: “Tin Cans & Greyhounds: How Destroyers Won Two World Wars.” The book was released by Regnery History in Washington, D.C., and the title refers to the two popular names given to the destroyer class of ships.

Americans called destroyers “tin cans,” because their hulls were unarmored and only a half-inch thick. The British called destroyers “Greyhounds of the Sea” because of their high speeds on the ocean.

“I learned the British built the first destroyers, the Japanese improved on the design, the Americans perfected the design and the Germans built absolutely lousy destroyers,” Johnson said.

“Tin Cans & Greyhounds” traces the development of destroyers from when they were first built in 1874 through the end of World War II, with a focus on the ships from Great Britain, the United States, Japan and Germany.

“Most of my previous 13 books have been about the American Civil War,” Johnson said. “I wanted to try something different.”

Other interesting stories Johnson details in “Tin Cans & Greyhounds” include: an American destroyer that sank a Japanese midget submarine an hour and half before the Japanese air strike on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese targeting wrong ships, two British destroyers capturing German Enigma machines and code books early in World War II and more.

“After researching and writing ‘Tin Cans & Greyhounds,’ I have a deep respect for all men and women who go to sea to defend our country today,” Johnson said. “I am fascinated by the Destroyer Men in World War II who charged forward into superior enemy forces time and time again.”

Details on “Tin Cans & Greyhounds,” an excerpt from the book and blog postings on destroyer stories can be found at The book can be ordered through all book stores. Autographed copies can be obtained by contacting Johnson through his website. He also has a 45-minute PowerPoint slide show tracing the history of destroyers through stories and photos that can be booked through the website.

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