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So Close to Home: A True Story of an American Family's Fight for Survival During World War II

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


A true story of men and women pitted against the sea during World War II—and an unforgettable portrait of the determination of the human spirit.
On May 19, 1942, a U-boat in the Gulf of Mexico stalked its prey fifty miles from New Orleans. Captained by twenty nine-year-old Iron Cross and King's Cross recipient Erich Wu¨rdemann, the submarine set its sights on the freighter Heredia with sixty-two souls on board.

Most aboard were merchant seamen, but there were also a handful of civilians, including the Downs family: Ray and Ina, and their two children, eight-year-old Sonny and eleven-year-old Lucille. Fast asleep in their berths, the Downs family had no idea that two torpedoes were heading their way. When the ship exploded, chaos ensued—and each family member had to find their own path to survival.
Including original, unpublished material from Commander Wu¨rdemann’s war diary, the story provides balance and perspective by chronicling the daring mission of the U-boat—and its commander’s decision-making—in the Gulf of Mexico.

An inspiring historical narrative, So Close to Home tells the story of the Downs family as they struggle against sharks, hypothermia, drowning, and dehydration in their effort to survive the aftermath of this deadly attack off the American coast.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 29, 2016 – Tougias (The Finest Hours), a writer who specializes in survival stories, and journalist O'Leary impressively render the grim early period of U.S. involvement in WWII, when U-boats wreaked havoc in American waters. During the first four months of 1942, German U-boats sank 173 vessels and lost only one. In May 1942, a U-boat torpedoed a freighter carrying Ray Downs, his wife, and two young children off the coast of New Orleans. The freighter sank too quickly for lifeboats to launch, resulting in many deaths. In the confusion, the Downs family was separated, spending a miserable 24 hours in the water before all were rescued. While not miraculous, their survival defied the odds, and they lived long and intermittently happy lives. Tougias and O'Leary alternate narrative threads between the Downses' story and that of two U-boats roaming the Gulf of Mexico, including the one that sank the freighter. Readers irritated by the breathless recreation of the Downses' intimate thoughts and conversation may prefer the diversions into straightforward history. Despite the book's melodramatic nature, readers will enjoy learning about a half-forgotten incident from the early months of WWII.
So Close to Home: A True Story of an American Family's Fight for Survival During World War II
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  • $14.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: May 03, 2016
  • Publisher: Pegasus Books
  • Seller: W. W. Norton
  • Print Length: 352 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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