9781561649723_fchigh

From The Quarterdeck Journal

ON 25 JANUARY 1898, the armored cruiser USS Maine steamed into the harbor at Havana, Cuba, passing by Morro Castle fortress on its port side, and came to anchor. Three weeks later, on a warm and humid evening, the ship mysteriously exploded, swiftly sinking, and killing nearly three quarters of her crew.

Agitated by a “Yellow Press,” the American public demanded a response, leading to the rallying cry, “Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain!”

On 11 April, President William McKinley asked Congress for permission to use force against Spain in an effort to liberate Cuba.

Against this historical period, Robert N. Macomber launches An Honorable War, the thirteenth title in his Honor Series, featuring Captain Peter Wake, USN.

As the Maine blew up, Wake, disguised as a “down-and-out Canadian tobacco broker,” was in a small bumboat, which had just shoved off from the warship, bound under oars for the Regla docks a half mile away.

The initial blast, which to his ear sounded like a “muffled thud,” erupted “into a blur of light and deafening noise.” The bumboat disappeared, with her two ancient oarsmen. Struggling to surface from the harbor’s depths, he realized that he was a “dead man” to his Spanish-born wife, friends and, more importantly, his enemies, providing him with an “unbounded freedom of action.”

As in the previous dozen titles in the Honor canon, Macomber had placed Wake smack in the middle of a momentous incident involving the United States Navy.

Dog paddling through the murky and debris-strewn water, Wake’s thoughts drifted back eleven months to Brooklyn Navy Yard, when his command, USS Newark, was taken out of service for maintenance. A subsequent summons to meet with Theodore Roosevelt set him on a course leading to war-torn Cuba.

An Honorable War recreates the events leading to the Spanish-American War, which singularly shifted America’s position in the world as the twentieth century was about to dawn. Wake and his pal, Chief Boatswain Mate Sean Rork, are joined by Roosevelt — a bigger-than-life character — in an effort to liberate Cuba from Spain.

The author faithfully depicts life on the streets and back alleys in late nineteenth century Havana, as well as the Cuban countryside. Gun battles between naval forces come alive, while Cuba’s ragtag rebels fight Spanish regulars.

Macomber’s delicious storytelling — a combination of riddles, action on the sea and ashore, well-drawn characters, and exotic locations — is a praise-worthy entry in the naval fiction genre. His rip roaring narrative is engaging, while chronicling a consequential period in American history.

—George D. Jepson
Editor, Quarterdeck Journal