The year is 1943 and World War II in the Pacific rages on, with Americans engaged in desperate battles against a cunning enemy. Coast Guard Captain Josh Thurlow is on hand at the invasion of Tarawa, as the U.S. Navy begins the grand strategy of throwing her marines at island after bloody island across the Pacific. But nothing goes as planned as young Americans go up against fanatical defenders, who revel in snipers, big guns, and human wave attacks from which there is no escape save death.
As blood colors the waters around Tarawa, Josh flounders ashore through a floating graveyard of dead men and joins the survivors, determined to somehow wrest victory from disaster. Critically wounded, ,Josh expects to die. Instead, he is spun off on one of his greatest adventures when Sister Mary Kathleen, a young Irish nun, nurses him back to health, then shanghais Josh, sidekick Bosun Ready O'Neal, and three American marines to a group of beautiful tropical islands invaded by a brutal Japanese warlord. Josh and his little band must decide whether to help the Sister fight the battle she demands, return to Tarawa and the "real" war, or settle down in the romantic splendor of the South Seas.
Hickam expertly weaves the adventures of these hot-blooded characters tighter and tighter until the Sister's secrets and sins are finally revealed during a horrific battle in the lair of the warlord. With an incredible eye for historical detail and the talent of a master storyteller, Homer Hickam delivers another tour de force.
This is Hickam's third WWII action saga featuring Capt. Josh Thurlow, an officer exhibiting military insight and preternatural fighting abilities. The book opens in 1943 as an American fleet assembles off Tarawa, and the Marines prepare to land. Observing from the deck of a transport, Thurlow points out flaws in the attack plan and predicts the disaster that follows. Although only a spectator, Thurlow cannot resist the lure of battle; he leaps into a landing craft, struggles to shore and rallies the few surviving Marines until reinforcements arrive. Wounded during the melee, Thurlow loses consciousness only to awaken in a caravan of outriggers with a beautiful young nun, a dozen Polynesians and three nondescript Marines. The nun and her flock had endured the invasion as prisoners of the Japanese and are returning to the Far Reaches, their home islands, now occupied by Japanese troops. The nun has near-impossible plans in mind for Thurlow and a painful secret of her own; fans of the genre will know what to expect. Hickam (Rocket Boys; The Ambassador's Son) keeps the stakes high and the tension taut in this fast-moving historical.
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If you want to read a book about war and paradise this is the book for you.