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Synopsis

Due to Enemy Action tells for the first time a World War II story that spans generations and straddles two centuries, a story that begins with the dramatic Battle of the Atlantic in the 1940s and doesn't conclude until an emotional Purple Heart ceremony in 2002. Based on previously classified government documents, military records, personal interviews, and letters between crew members and their families, this is the saga of the courageous survival of ordinary sailors when their ship was torpedoed and their shipmates were killed on April 23, 1945, and the memories that haunted them after the U.S. Navy buried the truth at war's end. It is the story of a small subchaser, the Eagle 56, caught in the crosshairs of a German U-boat, the U-853, whose brazen commander doomed his own crew in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to record final kills before his country's imminent defeat. And it is the account of how one man, Paul M. Lawton, embarked on an unrelenting quest for the truth and changed naval history. Author Stephen Puleo draws from extensive personal interviews with all the major players, including the three living survivors (and a fourth who emerged as the book went to press); a senior U.S. naval archivist who worked with German historians after the war to catalog U-boat movements; and the son of the man who commanded America's sub-tracking "Secret Room" during the war. Due to Enemy Action also describes the final chapter in the Battle of the Atlantic, tracing the epic struggle that began with shocking U-boat attacks against hundreds of defenseless merchant ships off American shores in 1942 and ended with the sinking of the Eagle 56, the last American warship sunk by a German U-boat.

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