It's 1943 and the Americans and Japanese are fighting a deadly war in the hot, jungle-covered volcanic islands of the South Pacific. The outcome is in doubt and a terrible blow has fallen on American morale. Lieutenant David Armistead, a Marine Corps hero and cousin of the President of the United States, is missing and some say he's gone over to the enemy. Coast Guard Captain Josh Thurlow and his ragtag crew are given the assignment to find Armistead, though not necessarily to bring him back alive. Recruited in the hunt is a tormented and frail PT-boat skipper nicknamed "Shafty" who is also known by another name: John F. Kennedy. 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.
Following The Keeper's Son, this is the second in Hickam's superb series about the WWII adventures of U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Josh Thurlow and his daffy crew of coastal North Carolina misfits. In 1943, Josh and his men are fighting the Japanese around the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. Josh, tough as a boiled owl, likes to carry an Aleut ax and drink Mount Gay rum. Still, when he's assigned a curious secret mission, he's not sure he's up for it. A Marine lieutenant, David Armistead, a cousin of President Roosevelt and Josh's friend, has deserted, and Josh is ordered to find him and bring him back for court-martial, or kill him. Josh teams up with another disgraced officer, U.S. Navy Lt. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who is awaiting his own court-martial for losing his boat, PT-109. Josh and JFK are an interesting pair the one a rough cob, the other a Harvard blueblood and together they get themselves into loads of trouble with Japanese soldiers, gangs of cannibals, a beautiful native girl who chops off heads and a nutty cargo cult leader. Add fierce, bloody battles and steamy tropical island romance, as well as hilarious cameos by Richard Nixon as an enterprising supply officer and James Michener as a navy historian, and the result is a funny, tightly wrapped tale of wartime action.