Marine Forum Review

Marine Forum, the magazine of the German Naval Officers Association, kindly reviewed my novel even though it has not yet been published in German. They praised the novel which made me feel great since it’s written from the point of view of a German naval officer in World War Two. The translation is slightly jumbled but the meaning: a novel worth reading.

The American Charles McCain here relates the adventures of the young German naval officer Max Brekendorf in the turbulent times of the Second World War. The title alone reveals that this tale is not told from the customary Allied perspective, which immediately sees all German military as Nazis. To the contrary: On the basis of his impressive research the author easily gains a differentiated view of the condition of the German Navy. This is for certain the eminent strength of the book, but at the same time also its weakness. The author loses himself in the minutiae of daily life on board, while he neglects to develop potential conflicts among the described personnel. That, unfortunately, takes away somewhat from the suspense of the book.

Altogether, however, the author presents an interesting and authentic looking story of the fate of an almost typical German naval officer who himself did not experience the First World War but knows only too well the disaster suffered by the Imperial fleet from the descriptions of his father and his contemporaries.

The young lieutenant j.g. Brekendorf at first serves on the so-called pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee. His confidence that the new war will have a more favorable ending is soon damaged. After the punctilious captain, Hans Langsdorff, has haplessly maneuvered ship and crew into a hopeless situation, is the scuttling in the Rio de la Plata on December 17 1939 inevitable. To the German crew the sinking of the Admiral Graf Spee appears as a miniature repetition of the scuttling of the German fleet in Scapa Flow in 1919. From Uruguay via Argentina Brekendorf returns to Germany where commands a submarine in the Atlantic until his capture at the end of the war. In spite of additional obstacles, the novel finds a good and conciliatory end in Mexico.

All in all a story worth reading, even if this dedicated writer has not yet succeeded completely in creating the permanent suspense that professional writers like Tom Clancy manage to build up.

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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