Book Talks: PT 109 and Carrying Albert Home

PT 109PT 109: an American epic of war, survival, and the destiny of John F. Kennedy by William Doyle

In the early morning darkness of August 2, 1943, during a chaotic nighttime skirmish, a Japanese destroyer barreled through thick fog and struck the U.S. Navy’s 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 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. PT 109: an American epic of war, survival, and the destiny of John F. Kennedy can be requested through the Haliburton County Public Library.

carrying albert homeCarrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of a Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator by Homer Hickam

In Homer Hickam’s 1998 memoir, Rocket Boys, he tells the story of his life growing up in Coalwood, West Virginia. The son of a coal miner and a coal miner’s wife, he describes how he became fascinated with rockets, fought against following in his father’s footsteps working in the coal mines, and ultimately becoming a NASA engineer. That was a true story.

Homer Hickam’s new novel is a somewhat true story.

Carrying Albert Home: The somewhat true story of a man, his wife, and her alligator tells the story of Homer’s parents, Homer Hickam Sr. and Elsie Lavender. Classmates in the coalfields of West Virginia, and graduating at the start of the Great Depression, Homer Sr. asked Elsie for her hand in marriage. Instead, Elsie left for Florida where he hit it off with a dancing actor named Buddy Ebsen. Yes, that Buddy Ebsen. Jed Clampett and Barnaby Jones Buddy Ebsen. When Ebsen left for New York to find his fortune, Elsie found herself back in coal country married to Homer Sr. Unfulfilled as a coal miner’s wife, she pined for the carefree life in Florida, reminded by the most unusual wedding present from her former beau – an alligator named Albert who now lived in the only bathroom in their tiny house. When Homer Sr. gives her an ultimatum – the alligator or me! – she decides the only thing to do is to carry Albert home.

Carrying Albert Home: The somewhat true story of a man, his wife, and her alligator is available to reserve at the Haliburton County Public Library.

*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM, October 18th – 31st, 2015.

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