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Book Review: The other side of German military life

An Honorable German: A novel of World War II by Charles McCain; 978-0-446-53898-5; Pages: 384; $24.99; Publication Date: May 2009; Hardcover, Fiction, Published by Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group, New York, NY.

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 Spee, 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.

This is a well-devised and orchestrated story 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.

Publisher Weekly

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3. Dead and Gone; Charlaine Harris; Ace; $25.95; 9780441017157.

4. The 8th Confession; James Patterson; Little, Brown; $27.99; 9780316018760.

5. First Family; David Baldacci; Grand Central; $27.99; 9780446539753.


1. Act Like a Lady, Think Like A Man; Steve Harvey; Amistad; $23.99; 978-0-06-172897-6.

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3. Liberty and Tyranny; Mark Levin; Threshold Editions; $25; 9781416562856.

4. Master Your Metabolism; Jillian Michaels; Crown; $26; 9780307450739.

5. Always Looking Up; Michael Fox; Hyperion; $25.99; 9781401303389.

Are there any books you would like reviewed? This column will find those which are of special interest for your reading pleasure. Visit Clark Isaacs at and tell him what you would like to have him write about.