Title: 90 Day Wonder: Darkness Remembered
Author: Leon Cooper and Don Tait
Line/Publisher 1st Books Library
Absorbing Read …….. Recommended 4 stars
The narrative opens with writer Cooper and his wife Alberta enjoying a trip to Washington DC when Cooper ‘flips out’ and certain the occupant of a passing vehicle is old nemesis Captain Boda, tries to open a car door. The account continues with an ‘Islands of Valor’ tour group visit to the Solomons, New Guinea, Marshall and Gilbert Islands where Cooper contemplates left behind armaments. President’s economists had said country would be thrown into depression if war supplies were returned to states at end of WWII. Cooper visits sites where he had seen action during WWII. Cooper suffers recurring problems due to Post Traumatic Stress. Cooper was an engineering student at Illinois, and had interviewed in Washington for job with the government when Pearl Harbor was attacked. The 90-day transformation from civilian engineering candidate to one of eighteen midshipmen in Columbia University’s Midshipman’s School soon begins. And in a short time Ensign Cooper is sent to Little Creek, Virginia Amphibious Training Base to be trained to land on enemy-held beaches. When he met with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Lt. Commander, to discuss a transfer to another unit, Cooper learned his new assignment would be for ‘the Big One’, the invasion of German-held beaches in Europe. With his training completed Cooper boards the U.S.S. Harry Lee where he meets Cpt Boda. Boda who received a battlefield commission is less than enthralled with the 90-day wonders being cranked out by the military. During the following months Cooper learns more than he wants about Captain’s Mast, takes part in six invasions including ‘Bloody Tarawa’, helps ferry the wounded to a waiting hospital ship, steps on Boda’s non musical toes, and is assigned to stand extra watch. He meets the Captain’s son and receives even more duty. Despite inclement weather Boda orders practice landings leading to predictable disaster and death. The anecdote continues with a Christmas aboard the Lee, Boda holding up orders, and Cooper gets in hot water again. The war ends and life goes on. Cooper marries, has a family and continues to suffer from what was then labeled as ‘shell shock.’ Finally Cooper loses Alberta to ovarian cancer and writes a letter to the now Rear Admiral Boda. Writers Cooper and Tait have produced an enthralling account of a young mid American who is caught up in the nationwide trepidation following the attack upon Pearl Harbor during WWII. 90 Day Wonder: Darkness Remembered is a tension filled account recounting the four years of abuse Cooper endured at the hands of an ego maniac captain aboard the U.S.S. Harry Lee. The narrative flips smoothly from the present to the past and back again.
Accounts of physical combat and mental battles keep the reader turning the pages in this fast paced work. The insanity of Boda’s heedless commands leading to deaths of Cooper’s shipmates is depicted in stark realism. The antagonism present between Cooper who proceeds from a sense of equity and Boda from one of absolute authority is palpable. The reader comes to understand that during wartime the military may be compelled to install misfit or just plain madmen in charge of men.
90-Day Wonder: Darkness Remembered is a riveting tale recounting abuse of power, lunacy, carnage, retaliation, devotion and atonement. Central to the tale is the fact that sometimes malignant martinet tyrants are placed in command of men, that this miscalculation often leads to needless deaths and long-term, post-war psychological problems for the surviving subordinates is something the military has long denied and ignored.
Good book for the history buff and those who enjoy reading ‘war’ stories. Not for everyone, racial epithets and expletives are used.
I am a Vietnam veteran’s wife who found the read compelling, happy to recommend.
Reviewed by: molly martin