Abandon Ship!: The True World War II Story About the Sinking of the Laconia

Little, Brown/Christy Ottaviano. (True Survival Series: Bk. 1). Feb. 2023. 272p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316401371.
Gr 5 Up–On September 12, 1942, the British ship Laconia was sunk by a German submarine off the African coast. The attack quickly became a rescue mission when the German sub-commander learned that nearly 1,800 Italian POWs—his allies—were aboard the Laconia and faced drowning. The rescue then became an unprecedented moment in wartime history: the German commander decided to rescue everyone on the Laconia, whether allies or enemies. He radioed for help from any craft nearby, from any country, and asked to declare the area neutral waters. The recovery mission was not understood or trusted by the U.S. military who flew over the site and bombed the humanitarian effort. While providing fascinating facts on this remarkable but little known incident, the book is primarily an account of survival after the U.S. bombing. The unbiased narrative follows the personal stories of the real men, women, and children moved to German ships or abandoned in lifeboats on the open ocean. Readers will need the list of characters and vessels to keep track of these alternating players and locations as people reach safety—or literally die off. Tension escalates as the narrative is pared down to just two lifeboats and their occupants’ harrowing struggle to remain hopeful. Back matter includes an epilogue completing the character biographies, an extensive bibliography, and glossary.
VERDICT Ideal for WWII history fans and readers who have graduated from Lauren Tarshis’s “I Survived” series.

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