by Dave R. Garwick
In the North Atlantic of World War I, a British passenger liner called The Laconia was torpedoed and sunk by a German U boat. Soon, a different U boat, U 156, was blown up and sunk with all hands on deck. Decades later, in the South Atlantic of World War II, another British passenger liner, also called The Laconia, is torpedoed and sunk, this time by another U156 which also is doomed to be sunk with all hands on deck. But before it dies, this U156 makes its mark in history by rescuing all the survivors of the ship it had just sent to the bottom. It radios for Allied assistance and the Americans send a bomber that attacks the U boat, killing many of the struggling survivors. About that same time, high profile Lutheran pastor, Martin Niemöller, a former decorated U boat captain of the First World War, turns against Hitler and is dragged off to the concentration camps. Then one of Niemöller’s WWI protégés, Karl Dönitz, ascends to command the entire German U boat fleet. These two men share the nightmare memory of a U boat atrocity which they had been forced to commit in the last war. Those are the facts of history. But why would a U boat captain risk the lives of his entire crew and his entire wolfpack in order to save the enemy he had just tried to kill? Why would he defy Hitler and continue the rescue effort and even call in enemy assistance? Why would Hitler then decorate him with one of Germany’s highest medals of valor? Why would the Americans deliberately and repeatedly bomb its own defenseless civilians on the open sea? These are the questions which drive the fiction in Dave Garwick’s debut novel, With Every Mouse and Man.
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