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The Keeper's Son (Josh Thurlow #1)

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  475 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Rocket Boys comes a tale of romance and daring set against the World War II battle for the Atlantic.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 22nd 2003 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published June 3rd 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 752)
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Apr 02, 2011 Nomanisan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pretty much anyone--but WW II buffs might especially like it
This is one of those books one might want to give up on in its early stages, but it was my experience that staying with it was well worth it. This novel, based on meticulous research by Hickam of the destruction of US ships (military and civilian) off the East Coast, begins to really carry one along once Hickam establishes his foundations. (The book in fact precedes The Ambassador's Son>u<, another of my favorite books by this author.) Some of the events, especially as the book rushes to i ...more
Aug 04, 2012 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a sucker for a WWII book anyway, but this one was exceptional. Great story, little known history, vivid descriptions which were not tedious, and it kept me reading four hours straight to finish last night--and I'm not on vacation! Can't wait to read the sequel and others by Homer Hickam.
Mar 05, 2012 Katy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful book, set on Kilakeet Island just after America entered into WWII with Germany. We follow the lives of Josh Trulow and his fellow islanders. Josh, the lightkeeper's son, left Kilakeet when he joined the Coast Guard, trying to find his way in life while dealing with the tragedy of losing his baby brother to the sea 17 years earlier. He returns when Doc tells him his father is dying; Doc had conveniently forget when, saying a lie isn't a lie until it happens. With German u-boat ...more
Anne Kenan
May 04, 2011 Anne Kenan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a true story about the people who inhabited the islands along the outer banks of N.C. They were mostly fishermen and their families who had lived there all their life and had never traveled far from these islands. They played an interesting and significant role in the beginning of World War l l. They patrolled these waterways for enemy subs and the islands on horseback. They organized themselves and used what they had available to safeguard their islands and the USA.
Jun 24, 2015 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a very good read set during World War II and based on true events involving German U-Boats and the East coast of America. Great characters and complex and believable interactions. Looking forward to the other two in the trilogy which I actually own so I can read them at my leisure. Recommend to any who like a great story with lots of action and characters who make you feel like you are right there with them.
Mar 01, 2008 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Although this is fiction, it takes place along the NC coast around what is most likely Cape Lookout. It takes place during WWII, and reviews the main character's experiences serving on a small boat defending the US coastline against U-boats. It is an entertaining story, and I am looking forward to reading the sequel.
Ann Amadori
Aug 13, 2009 Ann Amadori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. I liked the setting along the NC coast, the characters who lived on Killakeet and the mystery of Jacob who was lost. I was interested to learn about the U-boat attacks on the US during WWII and look forward to reading more about that, as well as the sequels to this book.
Sep 02, 2014 Loretta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was historical fiction about events that happened on the Outer Banks during WW II about which I had never heard. U-boats torpedoing our merchant ships! And the story from Josh's childhood that is woven into the story is intriguing. Interesting story
Jun 20, 2011 Sarahb. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Robin, Mikey , JB
As soon as I sterted this book, it felt familiar. I realized I'd read it long ago, but I wanted to finish it again, because it is such a neat book with a great ending! Lots of NC coastal history, a good summer read!
Beth Stuerman Stuerman
Jul 07, 2013 Beth Stuerman Stuerman rated it really liked it
I picked this up on a recent trip to North Carolina OuterBanks.... I was so captivated by the characters and the storyline that I was up until 4 AM in order to finish the book! I loved it.
Jul 22, 2011 ssigmonc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had seen October Sky and decided to read this based on how much I enjoyed the movie... It was very good. Based on that book, I've picked up another of his books, Dinosaur Hunter.
Dec 29, 2015 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun read. If it would've been written by someone else I would've only given this three stars. Since it was written by a West Virginia boy, whose dad was a coal miner, I gave an extra star. What made this a more fun book to read was I finished it while over looking the Atlantic Ocean. Mr. Hickam includes some history about WWII that most of us have ignored or was never taught. Some of his character development is great and others come across as a dime store detective novel. If you like WWII histo ...more
Feb 20, 2010 D.w. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
Homer Hickam is a great memorist as he titles himself. His semi-autobiographical novel, Rocket Boys, is one of my treasured reads. The follow-ups to that were also works I found to be more than worthwhile. Wanting to write in a new genre, that of fiction, we turn to his account of a time that he is an expert on. That of the fighting that took place along the outer banks right when the US joined WWII.

Here I think we have not seen the full potential that we found in his earlier works. Perhaps it i
Phil Ford
As far as a fast and easy, perhaps on the shores of the Outer Banks, type of read, this is fairly quick to get into and finish. Also good for a relatively untold or unknown fact that German U-Boats sunk many ships off the U.S.coast during the second World War; from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico. The story revolved around a tiny fictional island called Killakeet during the first years of World War II. Some characters are given depth, others are as central casting as they can come. Perhaps the most ...more
Oct 29, 2009 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mainlibrary
I've never read anything by Hickman and found him to be much like Clive Cussler, only more predictable. Hickman's portrayal of what might have happened on the Outer Banks during World War II is quite believable and merges island lore, the strength of a lighthouse, its keeper and the community that binds itself together. Hickman gives each character a kind soul including the German U-boat captain and crew. My favorite part in the book is when the old keeper of the light tries to ignite an interes ...more
Susan Edge-Gumbel
Feb 05, 2016 Susan Edge-Gumbel rated it it was amazing
Of course I loved it. I have enjoyed Homer Hickam since The Rocket Boys. Now, I can't wait to read "The Ambassador's Son" and "The Far Reaches." Hickam is a great writer of historical fiction. I never get tired of reading his prose. This book shed light on an area of World War II of which I was completely unaware. It was a fast read because I didn't want to put it down and then I didn't want it to end.
Todd Stockslager
Jun 09, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Very good first fiction for Hickam of Rocket Boy fame. He has an ear for dialogue and not-overdone description. One key plot twist was telegraphed too early, but Hickam wove the story around it so well that it didn't kill it.

The story is based on a fictional Outer Banks island and the life that centers around its lighthouse and the fishermen who live there.
Jeff Dickison
Sep 01, 2014 Jeff Dickison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good tale of a little known incident in our history. Basically, a story of the US Coastguard just before and during the beginning of WWII when U-boats attacked our shipping lanes. The characters are unique, interesting, and believable. Recommended.
Wes Metz
Dec 11, 2012 Wes Metz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've read Homer Hickam's trilogy about his days in Coalwood, West Virginia, you already know he can write. In The Keeper's Son he turns his talent to a tale that, although fiction, is firmly grounded in fact. The story is told from the perspectives of a U-boat commander, and the captain of a tiny Coast Guard patrol boat. It's about love, death, loss, honor, and patriotism, and it shows a side of World War Two that isn't often portrayed in literature or film. We get a glimpse of a way of lif ...more
Frank Tarquini
Dec 01, 2011 Frank Tarquini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had one of my favorite settings, during one of my favorite historical times. The Outer Banks during the Second World War. It is a fictional story set on a fictional island that resembles Ocracoke. Not to put a spoiler but it is a story of Coast Guard cutter manned by locals, the skipper with some guilt over an incident as a child, a grieving father who is the lighthouse keeper, a young woman and a Hollywood cowboy star. Oh there is a U boat also involved in all of this.

I enjoyed it. I
Nov 21, 2014 Jerry-Mac marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Paula Pinto
Nov 25, 2014 Paula Pinto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
this book was a gift and it's not my usual reading however I do advise reading it. It's very interesting, well written and it's worth.
Feb 18, 2008 Joy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historic-fiction
I didn't know what to think when I bought this book. I bought it after I had read Rocket Boys and was expecting something similar. Actually I had gone to the books store trying to find another of Homer Hickam's books about his growing up years only to find this was the only other book by Homer Hickam in the bookstore. So I bought it. I actually liked it better than Rocket Boys except of course for the portrayal of weak women who can't do anything but swoon and wait around for the men to do every ...more
Jun 27, 2014 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the series not knowing the history of the NC coast and the events during WWII enjoyed it.
Oct 22, 2014 Phil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slow to start but eventually gets good
Karen Brown
Josh Thurlow, a coast guardsman, still suffers guilt over the death of his two year old brother 17 years earlier. It is now 1941, and against his will he has been drawn back to the small outerbanks island where he grew up. He fights Nazi submarines, finds true love, and unknowingly discovers the answer to a family mysery. A subplot is the story of Krebs the commander of one of the attacking U-boats. The author made me want to learn more about the historic events that inspired this well-researche ...more
Mar 18, 2009 Deb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 07, 2011 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating read from a historical standpoint. Tells the story of German U-Boats off the coast of North Carolina during World War II and the damage that they caused. Always interesting to learn about things that usually don't pop up in our high school history textbooks. While I knew they were there, I had no idea that over 400 ships were destroyed. Amazing characters, both American and German, though the love story is hokey and completely unnecessary.
Brett Taylor
Mar 08, 2012 Brett Taylor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in German U Boats or North Carolina Beaches.
Recommended to Brett by: No one
It was interesting hearing about the outer banks area of Killikeet...It made me miss being near the beach. The characters were interesting. Preacher was someone I related to. I'm not sure about the ending. It was good, but kind of sad too , I mean all the changes that took place over the years. I don't want to spoil it for anyone though. Overall a very enjoyable book.

This was a book on tape I borrowed from the York County Library.
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Homer Hickam (also known as Homer H. Hickam, Jr.) is the author the # 1 New York Times best-selling memoir Rocket Boys which was adapted into the movie October Sky (a title he dislikes). Carrying Albert Home, his latest, is somewhat of a prequel to that work but, as he says, "somewhat not." He is also the author of the popular "Josh Thurlow" and "Crater" series. Winner of the University of Alabama ...more
More about Homer Hickam...

Other Books in the Series

Josh Thurlow (3 books)
  • The Ambassador's Son
  • The Far Reaches

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