Friday, October 29, 2004


I've spent most of the past two days sitting in front of the computer working on the current book, and I'm hoping that I'll finish it this weekend. But I've also managed to read ATTACK!, one of only three novels that I know of by Leland Jamieson. I read a bunch of Jamieson's pulp stories a while back and enjoyed all of them. He specialized in stories about aviation and was published often in BLUE BOOK, one of the classiest of the pulp magazines. It's possible that ATTACK! was originally published in BLUE BOOK. I know it had hardcover editions from two different publishers, Morrow and Grosset & Dunlap. I read the G&D, which was probably the "cheap" reprint edition.

Read now 64 years after it was published in 1940, this would have to be considered an alternate history novel. It centers around a U.S. aircraft carrier in the South Atlantic when war breaks out between the United States and Germany over Germany's attempt to invade and take over Brasil so that the Nazis can use it as a base for an invasion of North America. The pilots on the American carrier Scarab have to stop the German invasion fleet almost singlehandedly.

There's not much characterization other than the one pilot who functions as the book's protagonist, but Jamieson writes very well about air and naval combat. The battle scenes are extremely well-done, and his portrayal of life aboard an aircraft carrier is vivid and convincing. I'm no expert on such things, but I did quite a bit of research on the subject while I was writing my World War II series and have also visited the U.S.S. Lexington several times where it's now docked in Corpus Christi, Texas, and everything about ATTACK! rings true to me. Personally, I would have liked a little more detail about the planes -- were those dive bombers Dauntlesses, and were those fighters Avengers? -- but that's pretty minor. Jamieson probably kept things deliberately generic and vague because he was writing about something that, from his perspective, hadn't happened yet. That's very different from writing historical fiction.

Anyway, next up is THE CONFESSION by Domenic Stansberry, one of the new Hardcase Crime line of paperbacks. Anybody who hasn't seen these books needs to visit their website immediately.


Cap'n Bob said...

I think the Avenger was a torpedo bomber. The carrier fighters back then were likely F4F Hellcats. Later they had the F6F and the Corsair (made famous in Black Sheep Squadron).

James Reasoner said...

You may well be right about the Avenger, Cap'n. The only WWII-era plane I'm really familiar with is the Dauntless, since that's what the character in my books flew. They have an Avenger on the Lexington, and I was thinking that I remembered it as being too small to be a torpedo bomber. It was a poor example in any case, since I think it hadn't even been introduced yet at the time Jamieson was writing.

By the way, anyone who's in the Corpus Christi area should definitely pay a visit to the Lexington. It's a great experience just walking the flight deck, or at least it was for me. For those of you who have seen the movie PEARL HARBOR, part of it was filmed on the Lex. It "played" the Hornet, the carrier from which Jimmy Doolittle's flight took off when they bombed Tokyo. I got a kick out of those scenes, filmed so that it looked as if the ship was out in the middle of the ocean, when I knew that if the cameraman had turned around, there was downtown Corpus Christi right there.