Tag Archives: 19th century

Honors Series secret agent works to stop a war before it starts

Honors Rendered, by Robert N. Macomber. Pineapple Press. 376 pages. $21.95.

Though Robert Macomber lives on Southwest Florida’s Pine island, he seems to spend a good part of each year traveling the seas In pursuit of the local color and history that fuel his nautical adventures featuring Commander Peter Wake. All of the Honor Series novels are noted for their meticulous research on the peoples, places, and politics that the author allows his powerful imagination to infuse with high action, suspense and moral weight. “Honors Rendered,” the 11th in the series, is more than “no exception,” it is one of Mr. Macomber’s best.

Honors Rendered jacket

Set in the late 1880s, this adventure sees Peter Wakecovertly attempt defuse a political powder keg in the South Pacific. The U. S. government fears further aggressive actions by Germany against the island nation of Samoa. Samoa is potentially a U. S. ally, but at present both Germany and the U. S. are positioning for influence – and this means positioning their warships for possible confrontation. Germany has already won the favor of a portion of the Samoans and installed a puppet king.  Indeed, the Samoans themselves are near civil war.

Wake, working secretly, must find a way to quiet things down so that all-out war is prevented. Failing that outcome, his mission is to design and orchestrate a quick and complete victory for American forces. He improvises a plan that includes the assistance of an artillery officer who is a member of the Hawaiian royal family; a seaworthy Methodist minister who is fighting slave-traders (“blackbirders”) in the Pacific islands and Australia; and a resourceful, aging femme fatale whom Wake pretty much blackmails into being his spy within Germany’s military and commercial establishment on Samoa.

RNM new author photo 2013

Let’s not forget the late immergence into the tale of one Sean Rork, Wake’s good friend, military subordinate, and partner in many similar situations over the years. Their banter adds a comic element that frequently punctuates the tension.

The glory of this book is the personality of Wake himself. He is at once pragmatic and idealistic; endlessly resourceful while knowing and accepting his limits; skilled in every aspect of espionage, seamanship, and survival. Working as he usually does without proof of his identity or authority, he is a vulnerable shadow figure who has no safety net. Mr. Macomber has built and refined this character masterfully over the years, and now he etches Wake’s aging process with great authenticity. . . .

To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the October 23, 2013 Fort Myers Florida Weekly ,the October 24 Charlotte County edition, and the October 31 Naples edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Robert N. Macomber

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A multi-faceted study of late 19th-century Punta Gorda

Punta Gorda: In the Beginning, 1865-1900, by Vernon Peeples, Sr. Book-broker Publishers of Florida. 263 pages. $39.99.

This attractively designed, oversized book is a perfect stylistic match for its historical content. No one has been a more committed student of the Charlotte Harbor area than Vernon Peeples, and his expertise and affection are on strong display in these pages. The book is abundantly illustrated with photos and paintings of late 19th century scenes and personalities, and the thirty page map section is a special treasure.  PeeplesCover

In taking us from the conclusion of the Civil War to the dawn of the twentieth century, Mr. Peeples, who served in the Florida legislature for fourteen years, draws upon his enormous private collection of primary material collected over seven decades. He presents much more than a collection of dry facts, but rather a colorful series of narratives about colorful people developing a frontier.

Before becoming a community for recreation and retirement, Punta Gorda was a lively, thriving center for commerce and transportation. The Peace River and Charlotte Harbor were important links in the maritime trail that moved cargo and people from northern locations down the western side of the Florida peninsula to Fort Myers, Key West, and Cuba. Of course, shipping moved from south to north as well. Moreover, Punta Gorda was the southern terminus of railway lines, making it an important transportation bridge. The Gulf of Mexico and its adjacent waterways teemed with fish.

PeeplesPhoto

In telling the story of the area’s development, Vernon Peeples focuses on the key players and their business activities. He provides full-length portraits of such characters as Jarvis Howard, Isaac Traubue (who founded Punta Gorda), Kelly B. Harvey, Governor Albert Waller Gilchrist, and Marian McAdow, whose gardening innovations contributed to Punta Gorda’s tropical ambience. He even makes a connection between this area and the famous gunmaker Samuel Colt. . . .

To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the December 26, 2012 issue of the Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the December 27 Naples and Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Peeples 1 and here: Florida Weekly – Peeples 2

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