- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1st edition (May 18, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0446538981
- ISBN-13: 978-0446538985
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 78 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,148,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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An Honorable German Hardcover – May 18, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
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. (May)
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Novels of naval warfare have long captured readers' attention and imagination, perhaps because many of them, in addition to simply being great yarns, illuminate the moral dilemmas of command, offer glimpses of social and political history, and describe life at sea. An Honorable German does all those things. Aboard first the pocket battleship Graf Spee and later a U-boat, there is plenty of action, skillfully described. Lieutenant Max Brekendorf, the book's protagonist, is angered that the Graf Spee's captain scuttles his ship instead of sacrificing his 1,000-man crew in a hopeless battle against the Royal Navy, but he emulates the Spee's captain when he commands a U-boat. Life aboard these two ships is starkly contrasted, from the relative comfort of the Spee to the cold, claustrophobia, deprivation, and sheer terror of the U-boat. But the most compelling parts of the book occur ashore, in wartime Germany. As war wears on, the apolitical Max is appalled by Nazi zealotry and terror, and the staggering destruction wrought on Germany by Allied bombing. A gripping and eye-opening first novel. (Booklist)
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)
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PS: The part in the book about the Battle of River Plate is one of my favorite book parts ever.
WERE NOT BAD" PREMISE. I LOVED THE BOOK ON TAPE..YOU COULD ALMOST FEEL YOU WERE THERE. AFTER I HEARD IT ON TALKING BOOKS I BOUGHT ONE FOR MY DR WHO IS A READER AND MY GODSON WHO IS MARRIED TO A GERMAN BORN. I LOVED THIS BOOK.