In Harm’s Way: JFK, World War II, and the Heroic Rescue of PT 109

Written by Iain Martin
Review by Val Jensen

For future president John F. Kennedy, the night of August 2, 1943 would cement his future as a war hero and leader. It would also give him a harrowing tale of daring and bravery that would set him apart in his political campaigns. That night, he commanded a Patrol Torpedo (PT) boat numbered 109 in the Solomon Islands in search of Japanese freighters trying to resupply Japanese troops on Kolombangara Island. On a moonless night and without radar, his PT boat was sliced in half by a fast-moving Japanese destroyer, killing two of his sailors. In Harm’s Way tells the tale of how JFK saved the rest of his men by leading them, some gravely wounded, on a two-mile swim to nearby islands and surviving six days on coconuts, rainwater, and a small stash of supplies left on a neighboring island.

Martin writes this book for a young adult crowd that was born almost sixty years after the events of World War II and brings it to life with relatable stories of Kennedy’s young adulthood filled with dreams of adventure and friendship. Young adults, however, will not be the only crowd to appreciate and enjoy this book. Martin’s simple and fast prose will appeal to many adults who wish to know more about our 35th president without delving into a thick history book. With the unique collection of pictures from Kennedy’s early life through that fateful day when he was assassinated, In Harm’s Way is a book that teaches, entertains, and keeps alive the memory of one of the most treasured of American presidents for generations to come.