CHAMELEONS, An Untold World War II Story…
After the Japanese midget submarine I-16-tou torpedoed and sunk the battleship Oklahoma the midget sub’s commander maneuvered his damaged vessel in the quiet backwaters of West Loch. Unable to effect repairs the commander and his engineer scuttled the little submarine, swam ashore and used their list of safe houses to meld into the population, never to be heard from again. Until now.
Chameleons follows their lives prior to, during and after the attack on Pearl Harbor. A female reviewer wrote:
“This book, from a Japanese viewpoint, from Hawai’i to Korea and back to Hawai’i, was riveting. Some of the war scenes were enough to keep my fingers gripping my seat, literally. You will not see the ending coming, it is a total surprise. In a nutshell, if you like historical war fiction, this is definitely for you. The fact that it is definitely based on true events is proven by the pictures in the back of the book. There is enough here to make you wonder what exactly is fiction and what is not.”
Chapter One is a scene unlike any other before written as Nannini places the reader inside the steam room-like confines of the Japanese midget submarine I-16-tou as she sits on the muddy bottom of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. When the reverberations of the first aerial bomb and torpedo strikes of the Japanese surprise attack wake the crew from their sleep they quickly launch their twin, one thousand pound torpedoes. One torpedo proves to be a dud, but the second torpedo explodes with catastrophic results. The chapter closes with the image of white-clad sailors scrambling along the sides of the capsizing Oklahoma when the author whisks the reader forward into the present-day and presents an unsettling mystery.
Another reviewer states:
The cornerstone of an excellent historical fiction novel is research and it is extremely evident that Marcus A. Nannini has spent countless hours researching his subject. He has gone to painstaking depths to make as many elements of his story as real as possible and has done an amazing job. His descriptions of the training undergone by the submarine commanders, the attacks on Pearl Harbor, the landscapes of Hawaii, and the conflicts later on in the book are nothing short of exemplary.
I loved how this book mixed elements from both the past and the present. Either of the storylines could have made an excellent book on their own, but together they add another dimension entirely. The mix of different characters in the present day timeline is also fantastic. There is a refreshing mix of hard-working naval officers, sleazy reporters, traitorous informants, and even a pudgy Petty Officer who lends a smidge of humor (not to mention a few donuts) to the plot.
A second Japanese midget submarine was later discovered, abandoned, in only sixty feet of water and within a short swim to an Oahu beach. The hatch was in the open position and was impossible to open if submerged. There was no evidence of the crew to be found representing two additional members of the Imperial Japanese Navy who may have melded into the local population as if Chameleons.
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