PT 109: An American Epic of War, Survival, and the Destiny of John F. Kennedy by William Doyle
The extraordinary World War II story of shipwreck and survival that paved John F. Kennedy's path to power – hailed as a “breathtaking account” by James Patterson, “masterfully written” by historian Douglas Brinkley, and “the finest book” ever written on the subject by Lt. Commander William Liebenow, the man who rescued JFK and the PT 109 crew in August 1943.
In the early morning darkness of August 2, 1943, during a chaotic nighttime skirmish amid the Solomon Islands, the Japanese destroyer Amagiri barreled through thick fog and struck the U.S. Navy's motor torpedo boat PT 109, splitting the craft nearly in half and killing two American sailors instantly. The sea erupted in flames as the 109's skipper, John F. Kennedy, and the ten surviving crewmen under his command desperately clung to the sinking wreckage; 1,200 feet of ink-black, shark-infested water loomed beneath. "All hands lost," came the reports back to the Americans' base: no rescue was coming for the men of PT 109. Their desperate ordeal was just beginning—so too was one of the most remarkable tales of World War II, one whose astonishing afterlife would culminate two decades later in the White House.
Drawing on original interviews with the last living links to the events, previously untapped Japanese wartime archives, and a wealth of archival documents from the Kennedy Library, including a lost first-hand account by JFK himself, bestselling author William Doyle has crafted a thrilling and definitive account of the sinking of PT 109 and its shipwrecked crew's heroics. Equally fascinating is the story's second act, in which Doyle explores in new detail how this extraordinary episode shaped Kennedy's character and fate, proving instrumental to achieving his presidential ambitions: "Without PT 109, there never would have been a President John F. Kennedy," declared JFK aide David Powers.
Featuring castaways on a deserted island, a spy network of Solomon Island natives, an Australian coast watcher hidden on the side of a volcano, an S.O.S. note carved into a coconut, and a daring rescue attempt led by Kennedy's fellow American PT boats, PT 109 is an unforgettable American epic of war and destiny.
William Doyle has written or cowritten seven books, including PT 109: An American Epic of War, Survival, and the Destiny of John F. Kennedy and American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms (with “American Sniper” Chris Kyle). He served as director of original programming for HBO and was coproducer of the PBS special Navy SEALs: Their Untold Story. He lives with his family in New York City.
PT 109: An American Epic of War, Survival, and the Destiny of John F. Kennedy 4.2 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
I've been a student of PT Boats spurred by the movie PT-109 which my dad took me to see when I was very young. It left an indelible impression with me. William Doyle has done a terrific job of tying together JFK's career as it relates to this boat and the famous sinking. You really have a great sense of what kind of person JFK was and how this experience propelled him to the presidency.
You will learn new information if you read this book. It's not a rehash of Donovan's PT-109 book and it bares no resemblance to the movie, but it does cover both. I'll say nothing more except if you appreciate an honest discussion based on truth you will want to read this book. I highly recommend it.
More than 1 year ago
More than 1 year ago
I have to admit some hesitancy on my part for going into this book. I thought it was going to be another piece of hero worship in regards to John F. Kennedy. In one respect, that is what I got, but not how I imagined it. You get a portrait of the man when he was coming into his own. Before the incident, his men respected him and saw his potential as a leader. After the incident, they would follow him anywhere. This is Kennedy not relying on wealth and prestige. This is Kennedy in a moment of crisis. Not only does his life depend on what he does, but the lives of his men as well.
The story does not end with the rescue of Kennedy and his men. You get to see how this incident helped launch a political career that would take him to the White House, helping his father realize a dream of getting a Kennedy into the top seat of the nation.
If you are a Kennedy buff, this book is a must read. If you want a story of survival during World War II, this is a must read.
More than 1 year ago
This version is updated from the original. Really a good read.
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