Sinner, Sailor is the autobiographical telling of the author’s navy career from 1945 until 1972, from World War II through
All battle and no liberty makes for a dull read, so he includes lighter moments of a sailor on liberty in San Diego, Los Angeles, Tijuana, Hong Kong, Osaka, Sasebo, Yokosuka; and of a navy officer in his prime on the loose in San Diego and New York City. Sex, sin, and sailing are not unknown.
The author re-creates his experiences using narrative, dialogue, conflict and character as in a novel; telling of events as they happen with the immediacy of happening as it is read: “…Each morning I had to face Mr. Becker, who attempted to counsel me on the principals of leadership. I felt he was trying to change my inner self to him; trying to develop whatever traces of petty tyrant might be hiding in me into a true whipper of men, someone to be feared, an ideal Lange.
“You’re going to be Lang’s relief,” he began,” the H Division Police Petty Officer. I need someone who can take charge, and shape up the men... It’ll be your job to make sure everyone in sickbay keeps busy, does their job, and follows orders. Kick ass and take names. Don’t try to make them like you; you’re not in a popularity contest.”…
The next day, I went to where she lived when she wasn’t working at the New Black Rose.We talked and joked and then we made love. Afterwards she began to look sad.
“Whatsa-matta-you?” I asked.
“You Christian?” she asked.
I shrugged and said, “I guess so. Why..?”
“Why you here, then?” she asked; angry and disillusioned at me and at herself.
I was taken aback by her question. I began putting my clothes on.
There are genuine heroes in the book; there are also bureaucrats, time servers, rogues, villains, and scoundrels. Life aboard a ship or ashore with the marines; or liberty in the fleshpots or at home with the family, has rarely been caught so realistically. A good read of the real McCoy.
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