As a hard-core history buff, I have read many outstanding accounts of World War II, both
fiction and non-fiction, but this is the first one that I have read from the viewpoint of a
German naval officer, and it is mesmerizing from the first to the last page. Max Brekendorf,
the young German naval officer, is a compelling, memorable character fighting for his country
and loyal to the German Navy in spite of the fact that it is becoming inundated with Nazi
The military action sequences are riveting and feel authentic, and the bombing scenes of
Berlin by the Allies are terrifying. McCain's research and portrayal of the actual history
is spot on as Max begins the war aboard the pocket battleship, the Admiral Graf Spee,
searching for and destroying Allied shipping in the South Atlantic, until the Graf
Spee's ultimate demise.
The vignettes of Max's personal life and his love for his fiancée, Mareth, and their hopes
and dreams for the future throughout the novel showcase Max's humanity. When Max is assigned
to command a German U2 submarine, the action leaps into high gear. Then he is faced with a
choice between serving the Third Reich on their terms and saving the lives of hundreds of
innocent people who were in a passenger ship that was torpedoed and sunk in error.
In his debut novel, Charles McCain has created a character and a story that will certainly
stand the test of time and Max will be classified as one of the great patriotic and honorable
heroes in modern fiction.