Don't Go Near the Water (novel)

Don't Go Near the Water (novel)
Don't Go Near the Water  
Cover of first edition (hardcover)
Author(s) William Brinkley
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Comedy
Publisher Random House
Publication date 1956
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 373 pp
ISBN 9997405067

Don't Go Near the Water is a 1956 novel by William Brinkley.[1]



Dont Go Near the Water is a lighthearted, comedic war novel, dealing with public relations officers in the United States Navy during World War II. In the novel, the officers are assigned to the fictional Pacific island of Tulura (reminiscent of the island of Guam), which became the advanced headquarters of the Pacific Fleet during World War II.

Plot summary

Dont Go Near the Water is an episodic novel, broken into ten distinct chapters dealing with the officers stationed on the island, with six numbered interludes, titled "Melora" with a sequential number after them, after Melora Alba, the love interest of the book, whom Ensign Max Siegel, the main character, ultimately falls for.

Don't Give Up the Ship

Lieutenant Commander Clinton T. Nash is a former broker who tries to act nautical. Ensign Siegel assists Lieutenant (junior grade) Ross Pendleton in getting the natives on an adjacent island to dress like stereotypical natives in preparation for the visit of Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs.

The Passionate Sailors of Mendoza

While escorting two politicians on a tour of the island, Ensign Siegel encounters a beautiful native girl speaking to Mr. Seguro, a native man. The politicians are anxious to have her for dinner, while Siegel tries to protect her by warning of the risk of social diseases. All three are horrified when the girl (Melora) turns out to be sophisticated and speaks perfect English.

The Education of Admiral Boatwright

Rear Admiral D.D. Boatwright, the United States Navy logistics chief, is stationed on the island. Despite his great merit, he is without human interest- until he buys a dog from a local boy, then when the dog runs away to his old master, allows him to remain. This turns him into a media star.

Never Mind the Frangipani

Siegel interrogates Mr. Seguro as to the identity of the girl. Mr. Seguro is evasive, but finally discloses that the girl is not only the daughter of a wealthy family, the Albas, but is the village schoolteacher. Ensign Siegel immediately heads towards the schoolhouse.

Thinking Big

Nash, in a bid to glamorize the enlisted man, sets up a Home Town News department to send masses of filler copy about them to stateside newspapers. Siegel and his roommate, Lieutenant Morey Griffin (the laziest man on Tulura, which is saying something) poke through ships rosters and encounter the name of Farragut Jones. Amused by the name, they send unauthorized stories to the hometown newspaper. The editor sends a letter to the Department of the Navy, suggesting that Jones be returned to the States as a hero. When the U.S. Navy forwards this to Tulura, Nash is outraged and when the two confess, they are confined to their room (with room service) pending court martial. However, Admiral Boatwright loves the editor's idea, and the two are freed (Nash has actually forgotten that he confined them) and Jones ordered to Tulura before the hero's tour of the States.


Siegel has established a formal relationship with Melora, helping out in the temporary island one-room schoolhouse after school, and researching questions the school's very limited library is unable to answer. He breaks down the formality by purchasing an Encyclopædia Britannica for the school- the one gift that the formally brought-up teacher would accept.

Ultimate Fraternization

Siegel aids a sexual relationship between his assistant, Yeoman Adam Garrett (who wants to be transferred to a destroyer), and Navy nurse Ensign Alice Thomas, in violation of U.S. Navy Regulations regarding sexual relationships between officers and enlisted personnel. Nash finds out and breaks it up, taking no disciplinary action for fear of adverse publicity.

The Thousand-dollar Bill

Chicago Gazette correspondent Gordon Ripwell enjoys throwing his weight around with the fearful Nash and the other officers. Rewarded by his puritanical publisher with a thousand dollar bill for flying on a plane bombing Japan, Siegel, Melora, and another ensign combine to blackmail the reporter out of the money to rebuild the island's schoolhouse, destroyed in the war (school now meets in a one room shack). Ripwell is hailed as a hero, and his publisher sends him another inscribed bill.

The Typical Young Navy Man

Farragut Jones hits Tulura en route to the United States, where a tour from New York to Washington to Hollywood has been set up for him. He proves to be utterly uncouth. Siegel is set the task of civilizing the man. In ten days, he does a reasonable job, and Jones leaves on a successful tour of the United States.

I Went to Harvard College, Sir

Melora brings Siegel home to meet her father. Without ever deviating from a pleasant and polite tone, Mr. Alba thoroughly dissects Siegel, and finds him wanting.

The Budweiser Mutiny

A lavish new officer's club is planned. The enlisted men, led (secretly) by Garrett, protest by cancelling their war bond allotments. Nash is afraid of publicity, and responds with a disastrous attempt by the officers to build the club themselves. Siegel defuses the situation. Nash learns of Garrett's involvement, but still fears publicity, and so "punishes" the yeoman by transferring him to the most severe duty he knows: a destroyer, which is (unbeknownst to Nash) Garrett's heart's desire.

Queen's Pawn Opening

Melora again brings Siegel home. Mr. Alba is pleasant, having already formed a negative judgment of Siegel. Mr. Alba changes his opinion when he not only finds that Siegel has an appreciation of Mr. Alba's collection of chess sets, but plays the game himself. The two are the only decent chess players on the island.

The Lacy Battle Flag

Debbi Aldrich, correspondent for the women's magazine Madame, hits Tulura. A bit of a tease, she insists on going on a ship into combat, which flies her panties during the battle. She slips away from her handler, Ensign Christopher Tyson, and goes onto the island where the battle still rages, and stays at the front for four days. She returns, and is sent back to the States.

New York is a Very Great Excitement

Siegel and Melora's relationship has become close, especially as her father has grown to like him. Things are dampened by Melora's statement that as much as she loves other places, she could never live anyplace but Tulura.

The Day the Bomb Fell

News of the bombing of Hiroshima reaches the island. Only Lieutenant Woodrow W. Shoemaker can see anything more than personal concerns in the aftermath of the bombing and the impending end of the war.

All Good Things Must Come to an End

A wild party in the new officer's club celebrates the end of the war and the impending return of most to civilian life. Garrett returns to claim his love. Siegel's marriage to Melora (he will remain on the island and work in her father's concerns) is announced.

Critical reception

Dont Go Near the Water was the best-selling work of fiction of 1956 throughout the United States.[2]

Film adaptation

In 1957, the book was adapted into film by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as Don't Go Near the Water, starring Glenn Ford, Gia Scala, Earl Holliman, Anne Francis, Keenan Wynn, Russ Tamblyn and Eva Gabor. Don't Go Near the Water was directed by Charles Walters.[3]


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