the story behind the book | kate tuttle

A son’s tale of his father’s war

david wilson for the boston globe

“I knew that my father had kept a diary when he was in the southwest Pacific in New Guinea and in the Philippines,” said Allen D. Boyer. “I read it when I was about 14 years old, and it was the first book I ever wanted to publish.” Boyer, a longtime legal counsel to the New York Stock Exchange, went on to write four books before turning to his father’s diary. “Rocky Boyer’s War: An Unvarnished History of the Air Blitz That Won the War in the Southwest Pacific” came out this year, published by the Naval Institute Press.

The heart of the book is the elder Boyer’s words — “daily entries for a whole year during the Second World War,” his son said, a glimpse into how the war felt for a 23-year-old lieutenant who had been drafted the day after he graduated from college. But it’s not just the diary. “I worked to death on the research,” Boyer said. “I kept expanding the context. I realized I had to give a history of the war, fleshing out the details of camp life in New Guinea.”

It’s a young man’s chronicle, but the passage of time deepened Boyer’s own understanding of it. “I think I understand the senior officers better now. I’m more of an age of the senior officers,” Boyer said. “I think I’m older than anybody in the book except Douglas MacArthur at this point!”


Roscoe (“Rocky”) Boyer died in 2008. His son remembered him as a man who spent his life in public service, “a farm boy who became a college professor” at the University of Mississippi. Though he kept a journal of his wartime years, writing with both precision and humor about what he experienced, he never glorified war. “He was not impressed with saber rattling,” Boyer said.

Boyer will read 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Needham Public Library, 1139 Highland Ave., Needham.

Kate Tuttle, president of the National Book Critics Circle, can be reached at