A Call to Colors
Gobbell’s novel is a surprising mix of traditional World War II sea combat and a view of wartime California’s railway system and an Axis spy’s attempts to disrupt it. The recently promoted Commander Mike Donovan is a combat veteran scarred by the terrible responsibilities of command and the knowledge his actions had resulted in the death of a friend. Although haunted by self-doubt and guilt, he eagerly accepts command of the newly-launched destroyer, U.S.S. Matthew.
Before he returns to the Pacific and the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Donovan meets Diane Logan, a young doctor living in the small California railroad town of Roseville. Their attraction is complicated by the presence of Lieutenant Commander John Sabovik, a naval intelligence officer who blames Donovan for killing his brother. Sabovik’s hunt for the spy continues as Donovan sails for Leyte Gulf and the U.S. Navy destroyers desperately fight against the Japanese fleet.
Gobbell’s tale is interspersed with historical figures from both American and Japanese navies. It also includes the courageous Japanese officer, Yuzura Noyama., whose love for his doomed brother and navy is a reflection of the emotions of sailors from both sides. Donovan and Nomura will meet by chance in battle and will also cross paths in a more peaceful world at the novel’s conclusion.