Clay Blair, Jr. (May 1, 1925 – December 16, 1998) was an American historian, best known for his books on military history. He served on the fleet submarine Guardfish (SS-217) in World War II and later wrote for Time and Life magazines before becoming editor-in-chief of The Saturday Evening Post. He assisted General Omar Bradley in the writing of his autobiography, A General's Life (1983), published after the general's death. Blair wrote two dozen history books and hundreds of magazine articles that reached a popular audience. His last book was Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted, 1942–1945 (1998), which followed Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters, 1939–1942 (1996).
Blair's history of the Korean War The Forgotten War: America in Korea, 1950–1953 (1987) is considered one of the definitive historical works on the war. His work was notable for his criticism of senior American political and military leaders. Blair criticizes President Harry S. Truman and his Secretary of Defense, Louis A. Johnson, for failing to maintain the military's readiness in the years immediately following World War II. His history, while comprehensive, primarily employs a top-down perspective, with less emphasis on individual soldiers than on larger operational issues and the perspectives of general and field-grade officers. He has also been criticized by some historians for not making sufficient use of Communist sources.
Blair also wrote extensively on the submarine war of World War II, notably in the bestselling Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan (1975), considered the definitive work on the Pacific submarine war.
Blair was born in Lexington, Virginia. He was for many years married to Joan Blair, who co-wrote some of his books. Prior to that marriage he was married to Agnes Kemp Devereux Blair, with whom he had seven children: Marie Louise, Clay III, Sibyl, Joseph (deceased), Kemp, Robert and Christopher.
Books by Clay Blair
- "The Atomic Submarine and Admiral Rickover" 1954 Henry Holt and Co, Inc
- "Nautilus 90 North" 1959 World Publishing Company (Cmdr. William R. Anderson with Clay Blair, Jr.)
- "Diving for Pleasure and Treasure" 1960 World Publishing Company
- "Always Another Dawn: The Story of a Rocket Test Pilot" 1960 World Publishing Company (A. Scott Crossfield with Clay Blair, Jr.)
- "Silent Victory: The US Submarine War Against Japan" 1975 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
- "Survive!" 1976 Berkley Pub Group
- "MacArthur: Korea and the Undoing of an American Hero" 1977 Pocket
- "Combat Patrol" 1978 Bantam Books
- "Return from The River Kwai" 1979 Simon & Schuster
- "Mission Tokyo Bay" 1980 Bantam
- "Swordray's First Three Patrols" 1980 Bantam Books
- "Beyond Courage: Escape Tales of Airmen in the Korean War" 1983 Ballantine Books
- "A General's Life: An Autobiography by General of the Army, Omar N Bradley" 1983 Simon & Schuster
- "Ridgeway's Paratroopers: The American Airborne in World War II" 1985 Dial Press
- "The Forgotten War: America in Korea, 1950-1953" 1987 Crown
- "Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters, 1939-1942" 1996 Modern Library
- "Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted, 1942-1945" 1998 Modern Library
- Gifford, 224–228.
- Dunnigan, James F. (2005). The World War II Bookshelf: Fifty Must-Read Books. Citadel Press. p. 164. ISBN 0-8065-2649-1. "Clay Blair Jr.'s book is considered the definitive account of American submarine operations in the Pacific during World War II."
- Van der Vat, Dan (1992). Pacific Campaign: The U.S.–Japanese Naval War 1941–1945. Simon and Schuster. p. 161. ISBN 0-671-79217-2. "...Clay Blair, author of the definitive and exhaustive history, Silent Victory."
- Dower, John W. (1986). War without mercy: race and power in the Pacific war. Random House. p. 357. ISBN 0-394-75172-8. "The definitive study of the submarine war is Clay Blair, Jr., Silent Victory: The US Submarine War Against Japan."
- Spector, Ronald H. (1988). Listening to the enemy: key documents on the role of communications intelligence in the war with Japan. Scholarly Resources. p. x. ISBN 0-8420-2275-9. "Clay Blair's definitive study of submarine operations."
- University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center. Inventory of the Clay Blair Papers. Retrieved on July 26, 2009.