Bob’s Pick: The Nugget by P.T. Deutermann
Tired of sitting at home with no place to go? When your feet can’t take you where you want to go, you’ll always have your mind (unless you don’t exercise it and lose it sitting at home) lol.
Your mind gives you mobility that nothing else can. It can transcend both space and time. That is the beauty of reading. Just borrow a copy of P.T. Deutermann’s “The Nugget” and you’ll be transported in time and space to tropical Hawaii and a world at war across the Pacific. The time is December 7th, 1941 and the story continues to the end of the worldwide upheaval that was to become known as World War 2.
One of the things that make this book enjoyable is it’s level of authenticity and attention to detail. P.T. Deutermann is a retired US Navy captain and he knows his stuff. As a retired Navy officer myself, I find everything in this book totally believable. I can identify with the characters and find the description of ships and locales spot on . Can’t vouch for the battles themselves though except for what I’ve read elsewhere. I’m sure except for literary license, most of the information is accurate. Still, even though this book is a work of fiction, it provides insights that I wouldn’t have thought of. For example, who would have thought that at the beginning of the war, Japan made the best torpedoes and that many American torpedoes were defective?
“The Nugget” is about the experiences of a rookie carrier pilot initially assigned to the USS Enterprise at the start of the war with Japan. When the war starts, he is at Pearl Harbor waiting for his assigned ship to come in. Unfortunately, he is waiting on a battleship, the USS Oklahoma. He survives this disaster and boards the USS Enterprise.
Until they prove themselves, novice carrier pilots are known as “nuggets”. They grow in stature as they complete different phases of training and mission assignment. The main character doesn’t have to wait long as he participates in the Battle of Midway. He successfully bombs a carrier and not long after he is assigned a unique coveted nickname assigned to all experienced Navy SBD bomber pilots. He becomes known as “Fish”. His co-pilot is just as colorful; his nickname is “Rooster”.
After some more engagements and misadventures, they are transferred to different ships, one of which sinks, and they are rescued by a submarine, the USS Hagfish. The submarine also sinks and here the story changes. They are close to shore in the Philippines, where they are rescued by Philippine resistance fighters. The island on which they are stranded is also home to a garrison of cruel Japanese soldiers. The remainder of the book is devoted to their efforts in surviving and eventually assisting the resistance fighters in destroying the Japanese garrison.
I hope I haven’t given up too much of the ghost in this narrative. I have omitted many of the details and experiences of this story so that the reader can find out for himself what it was like to fly a plane in the face of enemy ack-ack fire or survive poisonous snakes on a tropical island. Again, hope this whets your appetite and you find this historically based adventure story a real page turner and good all around read.