Books: Seapersons the Last Ship

by William Brinkley Viking; 616 pages; $19.95

The missiles have flown, the earth's depopulated land masses are glowing like one big Chernobyl, and the 305 hands aboard the U.S.S. Nathan James, a destroyer that has survived the holocaust, find themselves alone in the vasty deep. But wait. Lurking beneath the waves is a Soviet nuclear submarine that has also escaped harm. Will the two vessels 1) blast each other with their remaining missiles, 2) join forces to begin civilization anew or 3) spend 600- odd pages stalking each other while they try to decide?

Answer: none of the above, mercifully. William Brinkley, an ex-Navy man who made gentle...

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