Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou by Steven Burgauer
|Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou by Steven Burgauer|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A fictional WWII adventure with large expanses of fact running through it. It's effectively an elusive hybrid: fiction for the lovers of non-fiction. Steven Burgauer popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 324||Date: November 2016|
|Publisher: Battleground Press|
A sudden death in New Orleans' red light district, the invention of a more effective US military landing craft with a big future, a crime family with links back to occupied Sicily and two Germans lurking suspiciously in America's southern states. All these are connected and, as World War II hots up across a fortnight in 1942, the links become more obvious as well as more dangerous.
American author Steven Burgauer informed, scared and touched our hearts when he brought us The Road To War: Duty & Drill, Courage & Capture, the diaries of an American officer trapped in France after D Day. That time out, in order to add emotional depth to factual memoirs, he fictionalised it slightly. This time he does it the other way around by treating us to the fictional story of a Nazi plot in the Deep South's bayous while adding some encyclopaedic facts.
Pretty soon we begin to realise that it's the facts that take precedence but that's not a complaint. The way Steven writes makes this book different: a novel for those who love non-fiction. On the way there are some unforgettable characters who together provide a broad gateway to the history of two weeks during 1942, within post-Pearl Harbour period of the conflict.
For instance via Kentucky Rose and her colleagues we learn not just about the harsh lifestyle of black prostitutes but the barbaric realities of being black in 1940s America. Their brothel owner and pimp Nico Carolla treats them better than most but this can be a lethal way to earn money.
Nico himself is rather interesting. As a real life American with a finger in a racquet flavoured pie or two and links to crime families in the Sicilian old country, he's of special interest to American intelligence and the FBI, bringing as much benefit as it does danger.
There are other real people peppered throughout piquing our interest, not all of them as famous as the wartime leaders we're allowed to observe. As Exhibit A I offer you Andrew Jackson Higgins, designer/creator of the Higgins landing craft. Although landing craft in general have been around for a while, there's always room for improvement especially as the marines approach the Pacific Island landings and the accompanying hazards.
Yes, we definitely travel and not just to the Pacific Islands. In fact we travel as widely in geography as we do in facts. We take in places like Bletchley Park and its code breakers, along with the Navajo code breakers back in the States, as well as picking up factoid nuggets like the existence of 'The Green Book'. This particular directory listed the places that black Americans of the era are safe to frequent. Oh and be prepared to smile when you discover what the US marines used to keep their gun nozzles dry. (Some of you are probably ahead of me on that one!)
By the time the novel's panoramic plot builds to its crescendo we've developed an almost Pavolvian response. The plot is one that draws us in once we're used to the patois and dialect of the south, but there's other things to think about than storyline and pacing. It doesn't take long for us to realise that conversational cues like 'What do you mean?' and 'What's that?' signal a thorough and fascinating explanation that'll ensure we come away with our history appetites happily sated.
(Grateful thanks to the author for providing us with a copy for review.)
You can read more about Steven Burgauer here.
You can read more book reviews or buy Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou by Steven Burgauer at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou by Steven Burgauer at Amazon.com.
Steven Burgauer was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.