An Honorable German by Charles McCain is a military history buff’s dream. It is poignant, lyrical fiction woven around what I can only determine are historically accurate facts. It is noted in author Charles McCain’s biography that more than twenty years of research went into this novel. The research is quite apparent since McCain puts the reader right on board with the German Navy. The descriptions of the warships, of the situations taking place aboard and in the North Atlantic waters surrounding the ship are stark, fresh, and intimate. At times the military terms became a little much for me to follow and process, yet I was still entertained.
Max Brekendorf is the admirable, young officer dealing with both the harsh realities of war and the difficulties in his personal life. His love for his fiancée Mareth is clear, as is hers for him, and the two plan to marry despite her parents’ disapproval.
Max is learning and changing internally at the same time as his country is. He remains a sympathetic character, especially as his country crumbles around him and he watches his best friend pass before his eyes. (The scenes that surround this event are quite striking.)
When incredibly questionable behavior begins to come into play and is exposed, the novel hits a real turning point. It is exciting to follow Max through these harrowing times as he struggles and perseveres. And I will say that the ending of this novel was WONDERFUL. All in all, once you push through the heavy military speak, this book is a definite A.
Lauren Kirk is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to working on her own personal writing, editing Messy Magazine, and writing for multiple sites, Lauren is also currently pursuing her MFA in English. More of her work can be found at : messymagazine.org and goldiesays.wordpress.com.