Sentinels of Fire by P. T. Deutermann

Book description: P.T. Deutermann's World War II navy series began with the award-winningPacific Glory, followed by the brilliantly reviewed Ghosts of Bungo Suido. His new novel Sentinels of Fire tells the tale of a lone destroyer, the USS Malloy, part of the Allied invasion forces attacking the island of Okinawa and the Japanese home islands.
By the spring of 1945, the once mighty Japanese fleet has been virtually destroyed, leaving Japan open to invasion. The Japanese react by dispatching hundreds of suicide bombers against the Allied fleet surrounding Okinawa. By mid-May, the Allied fleet is losing a major ship a day to murderous swarms of kamikazes streaming out of Formosa and southern Japan. The radar picket line is the first defense and early warning against these hellish formations, but the Japanese direct special attention to these lone destroyers stationed north and west of Okinawa.
One destroyer, the USS Malloy, faces an even more pressing issue when her Executive Officer Connie Miles begins to realize that the ship's much-admired Captain Pudge Tallmadge is losing his mind under the relentless pressure ofthe attacks. Set against the blazing gun battles created by the last desperate offensive of the Japanese, Executive Officer Miles and the ship's officers grapple with the consequences of losing their skipper's guidance—and perhaps the ship itself and everyone on board.

Sentinels of Fire by P.T. Deutermann is a great fictional World War II story set in the Pacific. It tells the story of a lone destroyer, part of a picket line involved in the battle for Okinawa; the last island before the expected invasion of Japan itself.

Deutermann conveys a realistic and terrifying sense of life on a destroyer, living in constant fear of kamikaze attack and the knowledge that death could be waiting for you every second of every day.

Today we see daily demonstrations of advanced military technology and precision, and the pervasiveness of it on TV and the internet has a certain desensitizing effect. Deutermann convincingly portrays what it is like sitting in the middle of the ocean depending only on your eyes, your ears, and a system of radar that was still in its technological infancy.

The story is told from the perspective of newly arrived Executive Officer Connie Miles. Not only is he transitioning from the relative safety of a large aircraft carrier to a small destroyer on the front lines of the attack, but he soon comes to realize that his Captain, Pudge Tallmedge, has had his nerves frayed to the breaking point and may be losing his mind.

Deutermann vividly takes you to that time and place. You can feel yourself in the middle of the ocean, eyes and ears straining for any warning that an attack is coming your way. Each battle is more thrilling than the last. The desperation of a Japan that knows it is lost but appears willing to die to the last man in an effort to inflict as much damage on the Americans as it can. Both the Japanese and the Americans alter tactics to outwit the other side. Death awaits the loser and living one more day is the prize for the victor. The cat and mouse game makes for an intense, and intensely satisfying story.

Great characters, historically realistic setting and well-written action sequences make for a highly entertaining novel. Recommended for any lover of action and war stories.
I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this novel.

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