“Honoring the Enemy: A Captain Peter Wake Novel,” by Robert N. Macomber, Naval Institute Press, 2019, 368 pages, $29.95
In the 1940s, C. S. Forester wrote a book with stories about a Royal Navy midshipman, Horatio Hornblower, previously the subject of a novel trilogy Forester wrote in the 1930s. Adding this fourth book detailing Hornblower’s earlier career created a new literary genre: a series of books following the life of a naval officer. Forester has been widely emulated since then.
“Honoring the Enemy: A Captain Peter Wake Novel,” by Robert N. Macomber, follows this tradition. It’s the 14th book in a novel cycle following the career of a United States Navy officer.
Most nautical novel cycles are set in the age of fighting sail, from 1750 through 1820. Macomber’s Peter Wake has a career spanning the last half of the 19th century. The first novel had Wake starting his career as a new naval officer in the Union Navy in the American Civil War. By “Honoring the Enemy,” the 14th book in the series, Wake is a senior captain in the United States Navy. The book is set in the Spanish-American War.
The American forces are landing near Santiago to take the Spanish-held naval port there. Wake is being sent as a naval liaison working with both Cuban and U.S. Army forces involved in the invasion. Wake speaks Spanish, his wife was born in Cuba, and Wake has been involved in behind the lines operations with Cuban rebels earlier in the war, so the job is a natural fit.
The book takes Wake through the chaos of U.S. invasion preparation in Florida, to another covert insertion in Cuba to prepare for the landings, and then fighting alongside U.S. Army forces in Cuba. The action takes Wake into participating in the most famous land operation of the war, Roosevelt’s charge at the Battle of San Juan Hill. Wake is then captured, escapes, and is recaptured. He then participates in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba as a prisoner aboard the Spanish flagship.
While a good stand-alone adventure, Macomber prefaces the story with a timeline of Wake’s adventures to 1898. If you like nautical fiction, “Honoring the Enemy” will be a delightful treat.