Walter Lord strives gamely to come up with a story as spellbinding as A Night to Remember, but the tale here is far too heavy with minutiae and figures who fade from the very page they arise on. When the Japanese invaded the Solomon Islands in early 1942, a handful of rugged individualists favoring the Allies remained on the islands to act as spies against the invaders. They possessed tele-radios, and from their hideouts in the hills of Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Tulagi, and other islands they radioed extremely valuable warnings about Japanese fleet and air movements. None of these official Coastwatchers were military men and no two entered into this dangerous activity for the same reason. One Britisher ""just couldn't see the Europeans walking out on the natives,"" while a Dutch priest refused to abandon his native pastorate. They also helped downed pilots and sailors who'd lost their ships, including Lieutenant John F. Kennedy whose PT 109 had been rammed by an enemy cruiser. Lord's story is the result of long visits to the islands and interviews with ex-Coastwatchers, and it has its heartfelt moments amid the dizzying detail.