The Ambassador’s Son
Bestselling author Homer Hickam’s latest work blends JFK, Nixon and Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific into a tasty tropical mix of what might have happened during the two “missing” weeks of John Kennedy’s life immediately after the infamous PT 109 incident. In the Solomon Islands during WWII, Lt. David Armistead, cousin to FDR, goes missing and is last spotted heading into Japanese-held lands with the beautiful, young native wife of a colonist swearing revenge. Josh Thurlow, sent to track him down, gathers round him a motley crew, including a battered and reluctant JFK. Along the way, Kennedy must play poker with Nick Nixon (aka Richard Milhous, already well on his way to being tricky) and James Michener in order to procure a gunboat for the mission. The men fight their way across several islands and encounter Japanese soldiers and native cannibals in their search.
The book starts off great, but I must admit I developed a major case of “oh, come on” when Kennedy and Nixon and Michener all appeared. (The endnotes say the coincidental meetings actually happened.) In spite of that, I persevered and ended up hooked. Stocked with all the required WWII-types – preppy, redneck, Brit, friendly native – the story is captivating and addicting. In addition to the beautiful native wife, there’s a beautiful English plantation owner to stir things up, though it felt a bit obvious to have the woman gazing at Kennedy and knowing he’s destined for great things. Getting past the schmaltziness of some parts, The Ambassador’s Son is a good war story worth reading.