Cover image for When duty whispers low
When duty whispers low
Gobbell, John J.
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Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
343 pages ; 25 cm
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With The Last Lieutenant and A Code For Tomorrow , John J. Gobbell has firmly established himself as one of today's leading authors of epic war novels. His hero, Todd Ingram, has proven to be one of the most fascinating and endearing characters in the genre. In When Duty Whispers Low , Lieutenant Commander Ingram faces his biggest challenge to date as his best friend turns against him when the chips are down. It's 1943 and the U.S. Navy is caught in a fierce battle against the Japanese in the South Pacific. At stake is the Allies newly won Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. But Isoroku Yamamoto, Admiral of the Combined Fleet and architect of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, desperately wants Guadalcanal back. Calling it "Operation I," Yamamoto throws everything into the foray, scraping together top-line dive bombers and torpedo planes from all over the Pacific to carry out a series of Pearl-Harbor sized bombing raids in the Solomons. In response, the Allies introduce the proximity fuse to the fleet-a top-secret anti-aircraft detonator that can greatly assist the U.S. Navy in their desperate fight against Japanese dive bombers and torpedo planes. However, in the heat of battle Commander Jerry Landa refuses to use the fuse - and pays the price as his ship, the USS Howell, is torn in half by Japanese "Val" dive bombers. Lieutenant Commander Todd Ingram confronts Landa, questioning his authority as the two become enemies in the midst of battle. As Ingram and Landa fight to survive "Operation I," Yamamoto personally directs the raids that will return him to the glory of December 7, 1941; raids that will facilitate the recapture of Guadalcanal and that will cripple the United States Navy forever. Filled with epic battles, romance, and the brutality of war, John J. Gobbell has crafted a tale that will transport the reader into the South Pacific during World War II--a story as vibrant and stunning as anything he has ever written.

Author Notes

After graduating from the University of Southern California, John J.Gobbell was a U.S. Navy deck officer assigned to Pacific fleet destroyers. Rising to the rank of lieutenant, he participated in the early days of the Vietnam conflict, serving in such positions as anti-submarine warfare officer, fire control officer, and weapons officer. In civilian life, his career has been in the executive recruiting area where he is retained by corporate clients to find senior managers. In the 1970s and 1980s he conducted assignments for prime contractors serving the military, interviewing hundreds of executives responsible for multi-million dollar tactical and strategic defense systems. These assignments piqued his interest in character development for technically aligned executives. That, coupled with a keen interest in the events of World War II, led to the development of his first four novels, all vigorously researched. John Gobbell's wife, Janine, also graduated from USC. They live in Newport Beach, California, where he is at work on his next novel.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This is the third book in a solid series focused on the naval war in the Pacific in WWII. This time it's 1943; the Japanese have been defeated at Guadalcanal, but the New Georgia Sound in the Solomon Islands, called the Slot, is still a dangerous place to be for Lieutenant Commander Todd Ingram. He's executive officer of the destroyer Howell when it is cut in half by a dive-bomber. Gobbell, a former destroyer man himself, always uses some real event in his novels. Here, it's the development of proximity fuses for antiaircraft guns on U.S. warships. The combination of careful research, fascinating back story, and the author's own experience makes this series--and this installment--a real winner. Fans of naval adventure will almost smell the fetid jungle of Tulagi and be deafened by the ship's guns. They will be infuriated by the corrosive careerism of various self-aggrandizing officers. Gobbell's books are naval kin to W. E. B. Griffin's hugely popular army series. Buy this one, and put the Griffin junkies out to sea. --Thomas Gaughan

Publisher's Weekly Review

The fourth novel from the writer of historical military thrillers (The Last Lieutenant, A Code for Tomorrow) combines two actual events from 1943 the killing of Isoroku Yamamoto and the introduction of proximity fuses into antiaircraft artillery shells which the author (himself a veteran naval officer) highlights as watershed moments in the Pacific theater of WWII. Opening in the wake of the Japanese withdrawal from Guadalcanal and the attendant brutal naval battles, the novel follows the story of Comdr. Jerry Landa and Lt. Todd Ingram, the skipper and executive officer, respectively, of the U.S.S. Howell, a destroyer on patrol in the notorious "Slot" of New Georgia Sound. Landa's brother, Josh, working on top-secret proximity fuses for American antiaircraft shells, is killed during a research accident. When ammunition with the new fuses turns up at the Howell, the grieving Landa prohibits their use in his ship's guns. Predictably, the Howell is crippled in a Japanese air attack and forced to beach on an island. A subsequent battle with Japanese Marines and a dramatic evacuation by PT boat leads to a race between navies to get to the store of the new ordnance in the Howell's hulk. Extensive subplots featuring the cast's many principals (Landa's romance with the widow of one of his KIA friends and Ingram's stalking by a U.S. government assassin over a security breach) round out the action, but it is the convincing historical detail from the grim Guadalcanal mortality chart to the "monster" battleship Musashi and the famous victory missive"Pop Goes the Weasel" that really distinguishes this book from the competition. (Mar. 21) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The sequel to A Code for Tomorrow, this is Gobbell's third book featuring Lt. Commander Todd Ingram and his exploits during World War II. It begins with Ingram as the executive officer of the USS Howell, a destroyer in the South Pacific. As the war takes its toll of men and ships, he must make some important decisions: will he take command of his own destroyer or accept a post at home to be near his wife? Ingram must also resolve whom to trust his old friend and commanding officer, Jerry Landa, or the navy's rising star, Captain Ashton. The battle scenes are frequent (there is a war on, after all), straightforward, and realistic. Gobbell knows how to keep the story moving without overdoing the mayhem. In fact, things frequently get muddled when the action breaks and characters are left to interact with one another; they repeat themselves and quarrel for no good reason. While this may be true-to-life behavior, it's a drag on the narrative. Thankfully, the battles soon resume, and the book regains its edge. Fans of World War II fiction and David Poyer's novels will enjoy this latest entry. Recommended for all public libraries. Patrick J. Wall, University City P.L., MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.