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Literature / The Edge Of Honor

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The Edge of Honor is the second novel by former destroyer captain and destroyer squadron commodore PT Deutermann. Set during the war in Vietnam in 1969, the story follows a couple - navy lieutenant Brian Holcomb and his wife of about two years Madison Mc Nair "Maddie" Holcomb, as both of them deal with a deployment to the South China Sea. Brian's naval officer career has suffered a setback owing to a less than stellar performance evaluation during his last sea tour, and this deployment could very well be his last chance to earn a promotion and get his career back on track. For Maddie, this is the first time she has to deal with a deployment to sea, where she will be seperated from her husband for six months. Clouding her ability to deal with it, are her memories of her father abandoning her and her mother, as well as the exotic stranger who has suddenly entered her life.

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Further complicating matters for Brian, is the fact that his ship appears to be riddled with drug use, senior leadership appears to just ignore the problem, while senior enlisted leadership want to keep it under wraps by doling out a little vigilante justice now and then. Brian must balance his duty to put the safety of the ship first, against the necessity of following orders to fix his career.

This is a very good example of Write What You Know, as the ship featured here is very similar to, and is carrying out the same type of mission, as the ship that the author himself served on, during a sea tour in the Vietnam War.

  • Death Notification: When Maddie answers the doorbell at her husband's ship's captain's home, she immediately realizes what he is there for. She then sees his rank and realizes who he has come to notify. Standard practice is supposedly to send an officer at the same rank of the officer that died. They have sent a Captain.
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  • Drugs Are Bad: On a warship, where lives are at stake, some very dangerous equipment needs to be operated with care and precision, and the consequences of inattention can be lethal, absolutely!! Which is why, as the author states in an epilogue note, the real US Navy has a strict drug testing regimen for everyone up to and including the CNO.
  • Jive Turkey: The few black sailors involved in the drug dealing ring intentionally engage in "shuckin' 'n jivin'" just to throw officers off their back. They hope that the officers would consider all that jukin' and jivin' to be evidence of low intelligence and therefore consider them incapable of running a drug ring.
  • Large and in Charge: Senior Chief Louis Jesus-Maria Martinez. And he is also described as looking really scary.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Happens to Brian on the night before he departs with his ship.
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  • Malcolm Xerox: The African American ringleader peddles drugs to mostly white sailors as a way to punish them for racial oppression.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Rocky, the dealer got into this because he felt that the Navy sold him a bill of goods to get him to enlist.
  • Southern Belle: Maddie is one.
  • Write What You Know: The author, like Brian, served as a Weapons Officer on a warship performing a PIRAZ (positive identification radar advisory zone) mission.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Maddie slowly drifts into a fling with Autrey throughout the course of the book. Brian, for his part, isn't off the hook either - he has a drunken roll in the hay with a prostitute in Subic Bay.
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