Reviews of The Nugget

(Back to The Nugget)


The Nugget.
Advanced Review –  Booklist

By P. T. Deutermann
Oct. 2019. 320p. St. Martin's, $27.99 (9781250205889); e-book, $14.99 (9781250205896)

Deutermann knows how to reveal navy life to even the casual reader, and his latest tells a harrowing tale of WWII. Ensign Bobby Steele is at the right place at the wrong time, but he survives the Japaneseattack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He decides to jump right into the fray, and soon is learning how to fly fighter-bomber planes. His bold and sometimes dangerous actions give him the opportunity to participate in the biggest battles of the Pacific, and readers who enjoy WWII stories, especially those involving the air war, will be entranced by Steele's story, which is told in a gripping first-person narrative that extends from the Battle of Midway to a mission in which Steele is charged with rescuing POWs from a Japanese internment camp and, finally, to his appearance in an American military court. Deutermann, long a master of military thrillers, is at the top of his game here.



"Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the Advanced Reader's Copy of THE NUGGET by PETER 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 Peter 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.