Book Talk: The Saboteur by Paul F. Hammond
During World War 1, German U-Boats prowled the Atlantic, forming undersea wolfpacks feared by crews of surface vessels, hapless like lambs to the slaughter. Yet the attack submarines had another far more unexpected target, the Cape Cod peninsula of Massachusetts. Now, author Paul Hammond revisits that event, weaving real-life with a few pinches of dramatization, to pen the story of “The Saboteur.”
Hammond enjoys a lifelong connection to Cape Cod, through the Hammond Family's arrival to Chatham in the early 1700's. Thereby he has long been familiar with the curious incident of an Imperial German attack submarine actually firing on the little fishing village, Orleans, next to Chatham. It is a tale long told on Cape Cod, often with an implied question… “whatever for?”
The novel reveals the strategic purpose of this 1918 World War I attack by telling a tale of escape from captivity, and a consequent hunt for a young man mistaken as a saboteur sent ashore by the German U-boat. Vigilantes mount a hunt for the young man who swims ashore fleeing his enforced role as translator of radio communications between US Coast Guard and US Navy patrol vessels.
Hammond shows us how war affects people, even those living in a small community seemingly far removed from the Great War’s fronts, the dreaded No Man’s Land. We are shown how townsfolk react to such an outbreak of violence, the only time a part of the United States coast was shelled by an adversary during the conflict. Gripped by fear, some pursue the perceived threat posed by a foreigner they believe to be “The Saboteur.” While they act out of suspicion, they do have cause for their alarm. At the same time, they are unaware of what’s really going on, and needlessly endanger the life of an individual who has risked everything to escape the violence he has been forced to partake.
We see the fog of war in action. For “The Saboteur” is in truth a frightened young man conscripted into the German military due to his fluency of English. He objects to the service, as well as the horrible conditions aboard the U-Boat, and decides to flee to America. Some would call this desertion, others would consider this an act of bravery. Whatever one calls the act, a defector from the other side would still be of value to America. But the poisonous anti-German sentiment and ambitions of the vigilantes endanger our protagonist. So it's up to a few honorable individuals - members of the local coast guard and journalists — to prevent blood from being spilled. For, indeed, historically the initial German attack and the American counter-attacks yielded precisely zero casualties.
“The Saboteur” is a tense page-turner, like riding a roller-coaster ride... or a submarine running silent while deftly dodging depth charges. Readers shall see what happens when Cape Cod and its fair residents receive a parting gift from the vessel: a crewman of the hated and feared U-boat!
Note: Now Available Click here
Paul F. Hammond draws from a lifetime of residence in New England and study of American History to create historical fiction novels with a focus on maritime adventures. He utilizes family history references, personal sailing knowledge and detailed research in New England libraries, museums, and historical societies.
Paul had an extensive career as a business executive, retiring as a senior executive and principal shareholder of a national custom market research firm. He lives in Connecticut and the Bahamas. Thus far, he has authored "Interference!". A novel describing the extraordinary time journey of three contemporary, middle-aged volunteer sailors to Newport, RI during the American Revolution; "Isaac Rules" an account of a young first mate's survival on a nineteenth-century schooner facing piracy, a terrifying hurricane, and weeks adrift at sea along with a profound test of faith; and "The Saboteur" a tale of a young man conscripted aboard an Imperial German U-boat during World War I. He escapes the submarine only to confront vigilantes bent on punishing him as a German saboteur ordered to attack an underwater telegraph terminal on Cape Cod.