THE NINETY AND NINE by William Brinkley


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This may well be Brinkley's strongest book since he made a splash with Don't Go Near the Water and the title of this novel refers to the ninety sailors and nine officers who manned an LST off Anzio during WW II. During the two months of the story, the LST 1826 achieves its thirtieth landing under heavy fire. Then it is torpedoed in half-- but, miraculously, both halves are later joined together again. Back at sea once more to deliver fifty four nurses to the front, the 1826 is torpedoed twice, this time with no survivors. The novel begins as a series of loosely related anecdotes. Then two main romances emerge, that of a young lieutenant and a nurse who fight against falling in love, and that of an even younger enlisted man and a madonnaesque, sometime prostitute. This pair is almost too innocent to fall in love. The enlisted man, however, is court-martialed for black-marketeering the simple goods he has naively given his girl and which she has sold. Later his conviction is reversed and he arrives on board the 1826 for its fatal voyage. The story ends in the tragic love-death of the officer and his nurse. Measured against Catherine Barkley, Brinkley's nurse is thin stuff for tragedy nor is anyone else seen very deeply. But the plot's twin screws give the novel a steady pull; the action scenes work excellently and the finale is most realistic. It is greatly readable and the publisher expects that it will be widely read.

Pub Date: July 15th, 1966
Publisher: Doubleday