Magazine article Sea Classics

Cuban Trader

Magazine article Sea Classics

Cuban Trader

Article excerpt

REVIEWED BY BLAINE TAYLOR

We deviate a bit from the norm this month with two marine-themed works of fiction which make perfect holiday gifts offering hours of reading pleasure during long winter nights. One title concerns the Ufe of a young somewhat troubled Naval plebe encouraged to attend the Naval Academy at Annapolis because his deceased father won the Medal of Honor; the other is an adventurous sea-going tale about a radio operator aboard a tramp steamer involved in an outlandish smuggling caper during the Cuban crisis. Both reflect the temper and tastes of today's times and each offers generous quantities of clever prose, absorbing characters, and enough conflict to keep even James Bond guessing what happens next.

The first of the two, published by the Naval Institute Press and appropriately titled The Recipient's Son, is by Stephen Phillips, himself a 1992 graduate of the Naval Academy. Phillips' absorbing story, set at the USNA in the 1990s, is that of a young cadet's struggle to come to terms with his legacy as the son of a Vietnam war hero who has doubts about his own courage.

Phillips masters intricate brush strokes of illusory phrasing while drawing on his own personal experiences to flesh out the many conflicts confronting fictional midshipman Donald Drago, who at times isn't quite himself convinced if he has what it takes to become a Naval Officer. Rich with the flavor of cadet life and expectations, the realities of hazing, dsicipline and unspoken codes, the story's Drago makes it into his senior year before being confronted by a testy moral situation which contradicts everything he knows and believes. How this cadet resolves a possible expulsion from the Academy with the help of a savvy CPO and a pretty JAG officer raises this story to the realm of topnotch contemporary fiction written by a knowledgeable author who has been there himself. …

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