The Recipient's Son: A Novel of Honor

Stephen Phillips. Naval Institute, $28.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-61251-116-0
This disjointed and unpolished second novel by Annapolis graduate and former naval ordnance disposal technician Phillips (Proximity A Novel of the Navy's Elite Bomb Squad) focuses on the struggles of Donald Durango, the son of a Medal of Honor recipient following in his father's footsteps at the U.S. Naval Academy. Durango finds himself on the outs even before he's halfway through his first "plebe" year. Classes prove to be a breeze, but they offer little relief from the hazing-like indoctrination to military discipline that is everyday life at the academy, inflicted on him with particular cruelty by upperclassman Walter Simpson. Durango's greatest anguish through these episodes, however, is his deceased father's legacy. Learning for the first time how his father died during a performance probation, Durango is plunged deeper into doubt about whether the Navy is the place for him. Durango survives his first brush with expulsion. But as he advances at Annapolis, he finds himself up against another crisis, a career-ending charge of harassing a female plebe during a drill. The author paints a detailed picture of what midshipmen endure and how one young man tries to make peace with those traditions and the ghost of the father who he never knew in a novel that will appeal mainly to a graduate of, or those who aspire to enter, Annapolis. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/08/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
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