Would you like to go back in time and experience being on a naval ship during the Civil War? Robert Macomber’s Honorable Mention, third in the 11-novel “Honor series” of naval fiction, is an exciting and historically accurate adventure tale. Captain Peter Wake is a young naval officer who has begun to make a name for himself as a successful interceptor of blockade runners and a talented negotiator in some very tricky situations.
The first two books in the series, At the Edge of Honor and Point of Honor, have Captain Wake commanding small sailing gunboats in the waters of Florida, Cuba, the Bahamas, and Mexico. Guided by a lofty honor code, he gains the trust of senior naval officers quickly as he overcomes challenging and dangerous obstacles. His men admire him as they discover their captain has a unique talent for winning dramatic captures of elusive blockade-runners, bringing them fame and financial reward. Adding warmth to his character, he falls for a beautiful damsel from the other side of the political tracks. Her father is a well-known Confederate supporter, and this creates quite a stir amongst the naval chain of command. Nevertheless, Captain Wake’s results earn him ever increasingly challenging assignments, all of which affect the outcome of the Navy’s contribution to the Civil War.
Honorable Mention is Book Three. Capt. Wake ‘s crew is given an assignment feared by most other captains and crews. They’ve just barely survived yellow fever, which has wiped out much of the naval fleet, and are now tasked to rescue an infected vessel and its crew on the Atlantic coast of Florida. The dedication of the captain to his crew and their trust in him are completely tested in this mission.
Assigned to command an armed steam tug, the USS Hunt, Wake is sent on a mission to Cuba at the end of the war to avert an international escalation of what has been up to now a civil war. He and his crew travel around Florida, to Cuba and Puerto Rico as they participate in some assignments that take all the courage, loyalty, and cunning a naval officer can muster. His natural instinct for survival plays a prominent role in this continuing adventure that follows Capt. Wake through his naval career, which will end in 1907 with the 11th novel.
I’ve read the three books in order and loved each of them. The quality of the characters and style of writing have made each increasingly hard to put down. We have had the pleasure in our area of having Robert Macomber speak to our sailing club about his experiences while researching these novels. This year, while researching and writing the novel due out in October of 2005, A Dishonorable Few, the freighter he was aboard came under attack by some real-life pirates. We’ll find them woven into that novel, he promises. Since they are written by a naval historian, these novels are all well-spun yarns with historically correct information accompanied by life experiences.
Honorable Mention by Robert N. Macomber (Pineapple Press, 2004; 327 pages)