Abandon Ship!: The True World War II Story About the Sinking of the Laconia (True Survival Series #1) (Hardcover)
On September 12, 1942, the RMS Laconia was attacked by a German submarine five hundred miles off the coast of western Africa. What the Germans didn’t know was that they had just attacked their allies: locked below decks on the British ship were nearly 1,800 Italian prisoners of war. When the Germans realized their mistake, they made the unprecedented decision to rescue all survivors regardless of their nationality, attempting to declare the waters a neutral zone. But when an American bomber flew over the humanitarian effort, he was ordered to drop bombs, contributing to the deaths of many Italian POWs and British civilians in the process. Some of those who remained alive endured weeks adrift at sea, fighting for survival with little water or food, and in shark infested oceans.
Suspenseful and informative, this incredible true account, which includes historic photographs, is a testament to the idea that compassion can rule over conflict—even at the cruel heights of war.
Michael J. Tougias is the author of many award-winning true rescue stories, including the New York Times bestseller The Finest Hours, A Storm Too Soon, Into the Blizzard, and Attacked at Sea, as well as the young reader’s adaptation of In Harm’s Way by Doug Stanton. A frequent lecturer, Tougias splits his time between Massachusetts and Florida.
Alison O'Leary is an award-winning journalist based in New England. She is a former correspondent for the Boston Globe and the co-author with Michael Tougias of Attacked at Sea.
A Junior Library Guild Selection
"This epic story races along, unspooling like a movie before our eyes—artfully, dramatically, revealing a little known part of WWII history. An intriguing book."—Doug Stanton, #1 New York Times bestselling author of In Harm’s Way
"The authors do an excellent job of conveying the chaos and loss of this grisly historical incident without pushing young readers too deeply into the horror. Many of those who lived through the Laconia catastrophe endured weeks at sea, parched and sunburned and starving in conditions that literally drove men mad. Archival photos add immediacy to this sensational true-life story."—Wall Street Journal
"An amazing account of a World War II event that is almost entirely unknown…. This story chronicles the courage, compassion, and perseverance of the few survivors of the incident, showcasing war at its worst and humanity at its best…. School librarians will want to add this to their collection."
"Tougias and O’Leary (Attacked at Sea) recount the 1942 sinking of the Laconia in this pulse-pounding work.... Through viscerally told accountings, including stories of passengers spending several days awaiting rescue aboard lifeboats, the authors deliver a fascinating tale of human perseverance and morality that explores the 'most unusual actions in all of World War II,' as stated by the creators in an introduction."—Publishers Weekly
"In contrast to the usual run of shipwreck tales built around the simple theme of “heroic survival against the odds,” this account depicts the 1942 torpedoing of the British liner Laconia as a realistically messy mix of confusion, desperation, altruism, cruelty, and extreme hardship.... Focusing on a handful of eyewitnesses who left records of their experiences, the authors tell their grim, brutal tale in matter-of-fact tones, then, close with notes on the subsequent lives of significant involved figures."—Booklist
"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.... Tension escalates as the narrative is pared down to just two lifeboats and their occupants’ harrowing struggle to remain hopeful. Ideal for WWII history fans and readers who have graduated from Lauren Tarshis’s 'I Survived' series."—School Library Journal