SHIP OF GOLD by Thomas B. & Norman Polmar Allen


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Naval experts Allen and Polmar (who collaborated on the 1982 biography Rickover) barely make steam in this stodgy, well-worn thriller about a mythic Japanese treasure ship. In 1945, young Japanese banker Ishiwata Seno loads tons of gold into a freighter to keep Nippon's last resources from Allied hands--but the ship is sunk by an American sub. By 1979, Ishiwata has become one of the most powerful financiers in Japan, and wants to rent the CIA's famous salvage ship, the Glomar Explorer (which lifted a Russian sub off the floor of the Pacific in the early 70's) to raise the Osaka. The CIA sends longtime consultant and troubleshooter Harry Gunnison to deal with Ishiwata; and before we even know whether Gunnison likes his coffee black or regular, the authors drag us into a muddled, rather far-fetched triple-cross: Gunnison secretly betrays the spooks by agreeing to work for Ishiwata, and then double-crosses Ishiwata by selling the Osaka's location to Taiwanese warlord General Cheng, who just happens to be the uncle of Gunnison's lover, Chia Min. A billion dollars in gold is at stake, and soon naval vessels from the Russians, the Chinese, the Japanese, and the Taiwanese are darting about the Glomar Explorer like June bugs. Gunnison finally realizes there's no place like home and switches allegiance back to the good old USA, just in time to board the Glomar and fight off an attack by Taiwanese pirates--while the President orders the troublesome Osaka dropped back into her watery grave. At best, run-of-the-mill: some fairly nice seagoing lore mixed with travelogue-bright local color, but these are offset by stereotypes galore (especially of Asians) and a plot that starts and then just stops.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1987
Publisher: Macmillan