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An Honorable German by Charles McCain
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An Honorable German (2009)

by Charles McCain

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Outstanding maritime action sequences are the high points of McCain's otherwise naïve-feeling debut. Max Brekendorf, a young German naval officer during WWII, serves on a battleship in the Atlantic, a merchant raider in the Indian Ocean and, after being adrift in a lifeboat and a convalescence in Paris, he volunteers for the U-boat force. As the war wears on, the navy, an institution that once forbade officers from joining political parties, becomes overrun with Nazi loyalists, creating tensions on Max's submarine that will eventually force him to choose between his moral sense and party directives. Unfortunately, the numerous good German/bad German scenes sustaining this uncomfortable premise are clownish at best. However, the action sequences are undeniably stunning, and McCain is no slouch with details, such as a ship's teakwood deck planks (which don't splinter when hit by shells) or the smell of petroleum in a submarine that permeated even the canned food. Fans of naval fiction couldn't ask for more authentic action, even if the novel falls short of its ambitions to salvage the reputation of the German navy. -

-Publishers Weekly (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

American readers of World War II stories are familiar with the Allied point of view. First novelist McCain reverses that perspective, portraying the war from the viewpoint of a German naval officer. Max Brekendorf begins the war aboard the "pocket battleship"Graf Spee, hunting Allied shipping in the South Atlantic and looking forward to the postwar life he hopes to enjoy with his aristocratic fiancA©e. The brutality of war and the stodgy German class structure stand in his way, but the most sinister obstacle may be the growing political power of Nazi hard-liners, who seem to become ever more fanatical as Germany's military prospects darken. Exposed to wartime atrocity from both sides, Max may have to choose between loyalty and humanity. No government, Axis or Allied, comes out looking very good in McCain's tale; Brekendorf's moral salvation is up to him alone and could cost him his life and his reputation. A vivid and compelling portrayal of World War II naval service.

-Library Journal ( )
  CharlesMcCain | Oct 1, 2010 |
I just joined Library Thing. Full disclosure: I am the author of An Honorable German. I gave it five stars. Why? It deserves five stars. The novel seems to captivate each person who reads it and my readers run from teenagers to 85 year olds---men and women. I estimate close to 40% of my readers are women. This isn't a Tom Clancy book where someone gets shot on every other page or complex weapons are used in each chapter along with pages of explanations. This is a novel about someone: Max Brekendorff . Like so many in World War Two he finds himself caught up in forces way beyond his control. How does he fight for his country and maintain his honor? That is the the great question. And Max is the honorable German referred to in the title. I also would like to ad this since most writers would never make this claim--I can write. I feel that each writer has a fiduciary obligation to the English language. A writer must understand the tools of his trade; must consult such classics as Strunk and White's, The Elements of Style. Lots of readers email me and many of them complement me on my writing ability which makes me feel really good. I'm glad to be judged on both the quality of my story and the quality of my writing. A few months ago I told my editor, "it's too bad that really good writing doesn't help sell books." "It will help you eventually," he said. I wanted to explain why I gave myself five stars. I can also tell you that it is a very strange experience to surf the net and read reviews. It's fun or fun for me since all of my reviews are great. But it is humbling in many ways. It's also hard to figure out how not to put on airs, as my late Grandmother would say. If I mention that I'm a novelist in a social gathering people practically stop talking and start to ask me questions. They ask nice questions. They are polite questions. But I feel awkward if I take the spotlight from someone. If I go to a birthday party, for instance, and I don't know a lot of the people and the don't know me, I just say I'm a consultant to financial firms which is something I did for many years. I'm not complaining believe me. No one asked me to write a novel. But I thought people might be curious what it is like to get one's novel published especially since this is my first novel. It's the attainment of a life long dream but anticlimactic since I saw the cover a year ago and read and approved the final proof last November. The question I get most often is how do I do it, how do I actually write a novel. And the answer is, I don't know. I will end by saying I try not to look at my sales ranking on various sites more than once every few days and I've been pleased that a number of blog reviewers have said I did such a good job and write so well that it will be difficult to top this novel. And I wonder if I will be able to. I think I have second novel jitters or something. If you read this, thank you for reading this far and if you have read my novel or plan to then I so hope you will enjoy it and be captivated by the story since doing that is my job and I take it most seriously. All the best, Charles McCain ( )
1 vote charles78 | Jul 20, 2009 |
A German hero of gigantic proportions is depicted by Charles McCain in his debut novel An Honorable German. Throughout World War II images of the Nazi war machine were used to denigrate truly patriotic and honorable men who made up traditional military forces who fought alongside those who pledged their allegiance to the Third Reich.

Those who do not understand the call to duty and honor to country will not comprehend the viewpoint expressed by this book. Following orders is a necessity in wartime. Those who take it upon themselves to disobey put themselves at risk with those in power to be dealt with severely. Here, it is the Nazi war machine which runs the country. It has spies placed in the military to tattle on those who do not follow the orders strictly given by the cruel and thoughtless SS.

One of the most famous of all warships, Graf Spree, is described playing an important part in the main character’s career. Max Brekendorf, a proud young German naval officer, serves his country with honor and courage. Max emerges to show he is different than the Third Reich which is bent on conquering the world. Max cares for his men, ship, and country. He is recognized for his bravery by being awarded several medals of the highest order including the Iron Cross 1st Class. His personal life is interspersed within his career. This book does it justice by bringing two facets together for an intriguing tale of courage, defiance, and romance.

As the war progresses and the failure of the Nazi war machine becomes evident, hardship in the homeland takes its toll. The Gestapo is taking out its frustrations on the citizenry and even our hero runs into situations which put him at risk. Only through his friends and future in-laws does he find a way to evade the clutches of punishment. Infractions which he committed unknowingly are overlooked, because all he knew was the life of the sea.

A well-devised and orchestrated story by McCain which will at times keep you so absorbed you will not realize you have been reading many Germanic phrases with translations subtly inserted. This is a very good book historically and depicts another side of German military life. ( )
1 vote clarkisaacs | May 28, 2009 |
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With love to my older sister Mimi, who many times in her life has given me the courage to go on.

And in respectful memory of my friend and mentor Al Rose, who encouraged me to write.
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"Bridge!"
"Bridge, aye."
"One ship, fine on the starboard bow"
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446538981, Hardcover)

In the tradition of Das Boot and The Hunt for Red October comes a sweeping saga of World War II, featuring a heroic and conflicted German U-Boat commander.

An Honorable German

When World War II begins, Max Brekendorf, a proud young German naval officer, fights for his country with honor and courage. With the unstoppable German war machine overrunning Europe, Max looks ahead to a bright future with his fiancée, Mareth.
But as the war progresses, their future together becomes less and less certain. German victories begin to fade. In the North Atlantic, Max must face the increasing strength of the Allies on ever more harrowing missions. Berlin itself is savaged by bombing, making life for Mareth increasingly dangerous and desperate. And as the Third Reich steadily crumbles, Nazi loyalists begin to infiltrate Max's crew and turn their terror on Germany's own armed forces.
Recognizing what his nation has become, Max is forced to make a choice between his own sense of morality, and his duty to the Reich.
With its stirring, rarely seen glimpse of the German home front during WWII, vivid characters, and evocation of the drama and terror of war at sea, An Honorable German is a suspense-filled story of adventure, of love and loss, and of honor and redemption.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:46 -0400)

Young German naval officer Max Brekendorf looks to a bright future with his fiance Mareth as the German victories over the Allies mount, but as the tide turns and Third Reich begins to crumble, Max must make a decision to stay true to his country or his own sense of morality.… (more)

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