When Josh is stranded in the jungles of New Georgia with a mysterious, sensual woman who has a tendency to chop off men's heads, it's up to Kennedy to come to the rescue and complete the mission. But to procure a gunboat, he first has to play high-stakes poker with a young naval supply officer called Nick who happens to be the best gambler in the South Pacific. Nick has another name, too: Richard M. Nixon. Based solidly on historical fact with echoes of James Michener, The Ambassador's Son is a thrilling tale of the South Pacific and adventure fiction at its finest.
©2005 Homer Hickam; (P)2005 Books on Tape, Inc.
"A funny, tightly wrapped tale of wartime action." (Publishers Weekly)
"A very exciting high-seas, wartime adventure tale, which combines the color, humanity, and humor of the play and movie South Pacific and the TV series Black Sheep Squadron." (Booklist)
Set in the Solomons during mid-1943, this novel is populated with some notorious WWII characters, including an AWOL Marine lieutenant named David Armistead; a Navy PT boat skipper named Jack Kennedy; a Navy supply officer named "Nick" Nixon; and a Navy historian named Jim Michener. The story begins on Tulagi and heads north in a Catalina, looking for trouble.
Hickam is a <b>very</b> funny writer, combining inventive storytelling with a keen eye for characterization and detail. This novel is the second in Hickam's Josh Thurlow series; the first, <i>The Keeper's Son</i>, is freighted with some frankly insipid romance, so I really can't recommend it. Hickam's latest novel, on the other hand, takes all of his first novel's best qualities and cranks them up.
You'll love it!
I really enjoy Hickam's folksy, sharp toned story telling. His characterizations are well formed and plausible and these believable characters, far-fetched as they sometimes are, dew you in to 'know' and relate to them. This story tweaks history in a meaningful way and this reader brings them vividly to life. The problem with war stories is many times they push our sensitivities to the raw end of reality and Homer takes this brutality at times a bit too far. Gratuitous, even. Some of these scenes are sprinkled then culminated with heads rolling (literally) and human flesh finding its way onto the menu. But it is not so prevalent as to ruin the story's momentum.
This is neither my first Hickam tome, nor will it be my last. But the ending here is badly conceived and very clumsy. Admittedly, this tale would require a masterly conclusion considering the lengths to which we are taken. But Hickam falls very short of pulling it off. I was physically uncomfortable as I cringed and squirmed in my seat as he fumbled his way through it, but it did not completely detract from my enjoyment of this odd tale.
I am also pleased to discover that Stephen Hoye rivals Michael Kramer whom I consider the very best at droll, ironic humor. Kramer as the narrator is damn near enough to convince me to try a book, Fantasy excursions excluded, of course.
The cast of characters, the premise, and drama of setting/time all make for a very enjoyable listening experience. Hickam is laugh-out-loud funny at times. The unexpected and the build to a climax writing is both inviting and fulfilling when one finally reaches the endpoints. The only thing disappointing is having to listen in small chuncks. It's the type of writing I could binge on... and alas life intrudes too often....
I will investigate the first installment in this series and anything else Hickam has written.
Bottom line: Not a change the world type book , but extremely enjoyable.
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