Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for the Advanced Reader’s Copy of The Nugget by P. T. Deutermann. Mr. Deutermann is one, if not THE, best writer of WWII military fiction on the market today. Both he and his father served in the U.S. Navy as senior officers. The father served in WWII, mainly in the Pacific Theater while the son served more recently, including stops in the Philippines and Vietnam. The term “Nugget” refers to newly commissioned, newly assigned to an aircraft carrier, aviation ensigns. I hope I got that description right.
As the story opens, Lieutenant, U.S.N., Bobby Steele is facing a Court of Inquiry because he has been Missing In Action for nearly two years. The Court needs to determine if he really is Bobby Steele and what took place while he was M.I.A. Therefore, Lt. Steele tells his story to the Court.
After a night of drinking on December 6, 1941, then Ensign Steele wakes up to to the sound of shooting. He had passed out in a cabin on the battleship Oklahoma. He barely has time to exit the ship before it rolled over and sinks on December 7, 1941 in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Thus begins his amazing story.
Bobby is assigned to the aircraft carrier Enterprise where he partakes in the the sea battle that altered naval engagements forever. It was the Battle of Midway, where United States and Japanese aircraft carriers a couple of hundred miles apart battled each other with airplanes. The U.S. lost one of its carriers but the Japanese lost four. It turned the tide in the Pacific Theater. Reading the author’s description of that air battle was like sitting in the cockpit with Steele and his radioman, Rooster Baynes.
Later on in the story, Steele and Baynes are shot down and rescued. After their rescue, Steele and Baynes end up on the island of Guadalcanal where they get a firsthand look at ground fighting. Not a pleasant experience. Eventually, they are returned to aircraft on board the carrier Hornet shortly before that carrier is sunk. Once again, Steele and Rooster are rescued, this time by a submarine. Because of its mission, going to the Philippines, Steele and Rooster are stuck on board. On arriving at its patrol area, the submarine hits a mine while on the surface near the mythical island of Talawan.
A Catholic priest turned guerilla fighter rescues them. Steele, Rooster and the priest are joined by Negritos and Muslim fighters in a military campaign against the Japanese garrison on the island. To complicate matters, there is also a prisoner of war camp on the island that contains an ever-shrinking number of British P.O.W.s. It is bows and arrows against machine guns. Eventually, it all turns out well for Bobby and Rooster with some surprises.
Mr. Deutermann once again proves that he is a master storyteller. There were nights that I read until the wee hours of the morning because I could not wait to see what happens. The story is suited for WWII history buffs or readers who enjoy a story well told. As in his previous books, there is some real history involved.
GO! BUY! READ!
–Jim Harris, retired book sales rep
One Nightstand is a reader-fueled feature, and you can be a contributor, too. Simply click the “What are you reading?” button in the sidebar and share your thoughts. Tell us your latest great reads or all-time favorites! If you mention your favorite independent bookstore, we’ll link to them.