Ensign O'Toole and Me

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First edition (publ. W.W. Norton)

Ensign O'Toole and Me is the title of a 1957 semi-autobiographical novel by William Lederer. The book was loosely adapted to television in the 1962—1963 NBC Four Star Television series Ensign O'Toole, starring Dean Jones in the title role and featuring Jack Mullaney, Jay C. Flippen, Harvey Lembeck, Beau Bridges, and Jack Albertson.

Early chapters are light-hearted and amusing. One early chapter describes how O'Toole, the hero, gives a clever explanation to his peers at Annapolis, why he chose, as his first assignment, the post of Executive Officer aboard an American River Gunboat in China.

Several light-hearted chapters follow, all set in South-East Asia, prior to World War II, where O'Toole learns oriental languages from beautiful, exotic oriental women, which enable him to bail his Captain out of jail after a drunken rampage.

Our hero and our narrator lose touch during World War II. When they reconnect our narrator has retired from the USN and become a journalist. O'Toole is in Military Intelligence. Our hero keeps running into O'Toole in improbable locations, returning from dangerous missions, behind enemy lines, where he pleads with our hero to make the US public pay more attention to the dangers of Communism.

The author, William Lederer, did serve briefly as the XO of the Yangtze River Gunboat, USS Tutuila.