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Synopsis - Reviews - Sample (Chapter 1)


It was around midnight on June 13, 1942, when Farrar Teeple, a pretty 22-year-old brunette, decided to take a stroll with her younger sister Carol on the boardwalk near the family home in Amagansett, on the South Fork of Long Island, New York.

     The fog was thick that evening, so thick that Farrar could barely distinguish what appeared to be the movements of four men down on the beach. Farrar thought they wore uniforms, possibly khaki colored; some of them seemed to be wearing caps with visors. One of them waved at her. The four didn't act overtly suspiciously, but something struck her as odd. The encounter unsettled her, putting her on immediate alert.

     Since the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor only six months earlier, the war against the Axis powers-the Germans, Japanese, Italians, and their sundry allies-had made all Americans wary of another, perhaps even larger, attack. That month of June, the New York FBI offices had reported hundreds of calls from citizens convinced they had witnessed enemy landings; some even saw secret spy messages in the way neighbors hung the laundry on their clotheslines. America and its Allies were facing a critical juncture in the War. At that very moment, the Japanese navy was still clashing with American ships after the crucial battle of Midway, which would decide dominance over the South Pacific. In Europe, the seemingly invincible Nazi war machine had penetrated the Soviet Union, settling in around Stalingrad, where a desperate Joseph Stalin had ordered a last stand. In Libya, Nazi Field Marshall Erwin Rommel drove his Afrika Korps closer to Alexandria and the Suez Canal.4 On the home front, German U-boats seemed to have free rein over the Atlantic coastline, sinking ships and creating havoc at will.

     For the first time in the twentieth century Americans had to face the fact that the ocean was no longer a moat but a highway-we could be vulnerable to foreign attack on our very own soil.

     Still, Farrar was not certain of what she saw, so instead of calling The Coast Guard station a half mile away, she returned home and told her father, Ralph, of her suspicions. Like any protective parent, Mr. Teeple stuck his head out the window, took a look at the enveloping fog, sniffed the air, decided his daughter was overreacting, and urged her to go to bed. To assuage her fears, he promised they would call the Coast Guard in the morning-after all, who could see anything in that pea soup out there?

     What Farrar had actually seen were four men disgorged from Kreigsmarine U-boat number 202, type VIIC, built by the Krupp Works at Kierl, Germany, in 1941, with a crew of forty-five, commanded by Kapitanleutnant Hans-Heinz Lindner. The four men waded out of the shadows for a planned mission of terror unprecedented in United States history-one not to be duplicated until almost sixty years later.

     A few hundred yards away from Farrar's house, moving as quickly they could under the cover of the foggy darkness, the four Nazi agents were about to bury four boxes containing TNT, blasting caps, timing devices, and assorted instruments of destruction. George John Dasch, a gaunt man with wide hazel eyes and a shock of white hair, headed the team. His faction was the first of two groups that would land in the next few days, the vanguard-if successful-of a series of operatives intent on wreaking terror and death in the heart of Amertca.

     Their German superior had told them before seeing them off from a Nazi-controlled port in France, "You will cause more damage to the American war effort than a whole division of soldiers." But first, the terrorists had to get inside America.

     It had taken the group seventeen days to reach Long Island, the debarkation site Dasch chose because he had once lived near Amagansett, in a furnished apartment in Sonthampton. He knew there they would find access to transportation and that his men, German - Americans who still spoke with accents, would easily blend into the polyglot crowd in their final destination, the great metropolis of New York City.

     Two sailors from the submarine had accompanied them, helping to paddle through surf so strong at times it had threatened to overturn their rubber dinghy. The sailors could also supply extra muscle if needed, for most of the men whom the Nazi High Command had sent on this expedition did not bear weapons and were not professional soldiers, even if they dressed as German marines. They had been chosen on the basis of their fluency in the English language and previous residence in the United States. They had received their education on terrorist tactics during three weeks of intensive training at a school located on a farm near Brandenburg, Germany, once owned by a Jewish family. There, the men had been taught how to prepare bombs, disable water canals, and cripple magnesium and cryolite factories. Most important of all, they had been drilled to spread panic among defenseless civilians by bombing Macy's, Gimbel's, and Penn Station-the great hubs of people and movement in New York.

     The four Nazi invaders had not been taught discipline and coordination, however. They ambled aimlessly on the shoreline, discarding their uniforms at will. They had worn them to insure protection under the Geneva Convention's rules for prisoners of war, in case they were captured at landing.

     Their leader, Dasch, had rejected Nazi insignia, instead opting for the American clothes he had kept from his long residence in the States. The only emblem he shared with his comrades was one or four tin porcupines he had ordered made and distributed to each of them. The porcupines, meant as good luck charms, were the emblems of the U-boat that had brought them over. Dasch thought the figurines would also be a good way for the terrorists to recognize members of the group, and send messages to each other through third parties when necessary, with the prefatory phrase, "Greetings from Dick."

     Dasch carried with him $85,000 in cash, the equivalent of about $750,000 in today's money, given to him by his German trainers as the extent of help they would receive upon landing. The men had been told that once they landed, there was no turning back. They would only return to Germany after victory--or death.

     Dasch goaded his men to finish burying the heavy boxes away from the water line. So far, luck had been with them. Dasch was in the shallows, helping the U-boat sailors tip over their dinghy to empty out the water it had taken, when he glanced over his shoulder. A light was moving slowly down the beach, just a short distance away. Dasch turned to his men but they had moved away to higher ground and didn't notice the beam cutting through the thick fog.

     What should he do?

     The light that shone on Dasch came from a lantern held by red-haired John Cullen, all of nineteen years old. A Seaman Second Class in the Coast Guard, Cullen was about a half mile away from the Amagansett station where he had begun his three-and-a-half mile shore patrol. Dasch was unaware that the area of Long Island he had landed in had been classified as an important military region by the War Department and was patrolled regularly, day and night. Young, inexperienced men, who called themselves "sand pounders," however, usually carried out the patrols. Due to the scarcity of armaments at that early stage of the war, these shore patrols had not been issued weapons. Sometimes they patrolled with dogs, but most often a flashlight was their only protection. In case of danger or unusual circumstances, the patrols were required to report immediately back to their stations.

     Dasch splashed through the water, thinking of the young guardsman, boy, you don't know what danger you're walking into. Just before landing, the captain of the U-boat had ordered Dasch to overpower any intruder who might surprise them and send him back to the submarine to be disposed of. If the terrorists couldn't handle him, the sailors who had accompanied the agents had submachine guns with them to finish the job. Their dinghy by their side, the two husky men stood in the shallow water, waiting for their cue.

     "Are you guys fishermen?" asked Cullen. "Are you having trouble? Did you get lost?" His flashlight cut through the swirling wreaths of fog.

     "We're a couple of fishermen from Southampton and we ran ashore here," said Dasch.

     "What were you fishing for?"


     Cullen thought it was highly unlikely anyone would be out clamming at this time of night. Besides, there was something odd about the thin man before him: his slight accent, his jittery mannerisms, the way he brought his finger to his nose to emphasize a point. Cullen glanced over at the two men in the shallow water, and then at a fourth man some distance away who seemed to be in his underwear. Cullen shone the light on Dasch.

     Cullen thought it was highly unlikely anyone would be out clamming at this time of night. Besides, there was something odd about the thin man before him: his slight accent, his jittery mannerisms, the way he brought his finger to his nose to emphasize a point. Cullen glanced over at the two men in the shallow water, and then at a fourth man some distance away who seemed to be in his underwear. Cullen shone the light on Dasch.

     "What are you fellows going to do about it?" asked Cullen.

     "We'll stay here until sunrise and then we will be all right." Cullen told Dasch that the sun would not be up for another four hours and that he had better accompany him to the Coast Guard station just down the beach.

     Dasch hesitated a moment, then said, "All right," and began to walk away with Cullen. But after a few feet he stopped and turned.

     "I am not coming with you."

     "Why not? asked Cullen.

     "I don't have any papers or permit to fish," replied Dasch.

     "More reason to come along," said Cullen, who somehow found the courage to grab Dasch by the arm and pull him away. Dasch broke free.

     "Now, wait a minute. You don't know what this is all about."

     "No, I don't."

     "How old are you, son?"


     "You have a father and a mother, don't you, boy?"

     "Yes, I do."

     "Well, if you ever want to see them again, please do exactly what I tell you. I wouldn't want to have to kill you."

     Just then another member of the group came out of the fog, dragging a large canvas bag in which the terrorists' soggy Nazi uniforms had been stashed. Cullen, not knowing what it contained, asked him, "Hey-you got clams in that sack?"

     The man, Ernst Peter Burger, surprised at seeing the coastguardsman, didn't reply but asked Dasch In German, "Is there anything wrong, George? Do you need any help?"

     Dasch wheeled about, slapping his hand over Burger's mouth.

     "You damn fool, why don't you go back to the other guys?" he told him in English.

     Cullen stood his ground, uncertain of what to do. If these men were Nazi spies, as he was beginning to suspect, he had to get help before they overpowered him. Dasch looked at him, also uncertain of his next step. He could call over the two sailors but that would mean death for the young man. But Dasch also couldn't go to the Coast Guard station as Cullen had requested.

     Dasch extracted a leather tobacco pouch, from which he removed several bills. He counted quickly, about one hundred dollars.

     "Forget about this and I will give you some money and you can have a good time."

     Cullen refused the money, but Dasch would not hear of it. He peeled off more bills, bringing the total to $280, and Pressed them into Cullen's hands, his voice steely with conviction this time.

     "Please, you have undoubtedly given your oath to do your duty. I am telling you by taking this money, which I am offering you, you are doing nothing else but your duty so please take it."

     Cullen, realizing he had no other way out, accepted the bribe. He was about to run off to safety when Dasch stopped him.

     "Just a minute. I want you to shine your light in my face."

     Dasch took off his hat as the young guardsman illuminated the strange invader. In the spotlight, Dasch stood alone, as though on a stage, his wide, cryptic eyes glaring at whatever future awaited him.

     "Take a good look at me. Look in my eyes." He repeated,

     "Look in my eyes. My name is George John Davis. You will hear from me in Washington."

     Dasch paused to make sure that his words sank in. Cullen did not know it but he had done more than just discover the first-ever Nazi invasion of the United States, he had also become Dasch's possible ticket to freedom. For Dasch, who always wanted to keep his options open, was contemplating the end of the mission-and the role he might have to play in its demise. Now, concerned about the: reaction of the others in his group, Dasch motioned at Cullen to go.

     He asked, jovially, "What will you do with your money?"

     "Some of it I will give to my parents, some of it I will put in the bank, and I will have a good time," babbled Cullen, realizing his life was in peril.

     "Boy, do just that, but please go now and you will hear from me in Washington."

     "Thank you, sir," said Cullen, who turned off his flashlight, backed off into the fog until he could no longer see the man - or be seen by him-and then took off running as fast as he could to the Coast Guard station.

     Dasch ordered the sailors back to the U-boat, wading out into the water to push their boat beyond the surf. By the time Dasch rejoined his men, Burger had told group of the encounter with Cullen. One of them, Richard Quirin, a true believer in the Nazi cause, grumbled that they were supposed to kill anyone they encountered. Dasch replied, in German, "Boys, this is the time to be quiet and hold your nerves. Each of you get a box and follow me."

     Dasch could see that they had landed practically within earshot of a small, one-story wooded house, which was visible through the thinning fog across the road, so he took the three men inland, heading northeast along the curvy beach. They went over two sand dunes and into a gulch where he stopped and told them to begin digging. Quirin was still muttering about not killing Cullen.

     "Look," said Dasch, "I know what I'm doing and everything is going to be all right. Now shut up and get to work."

     Concerned that Cullen would soon return with armed men, Dasch urged them to dig as fast as they could. They opened a hold about two yards wide and one yard deep and stached the four two-foot-by-three-foot boxes inside. Then he ordered them covered up. Unbeknownst to Dacsh, one of the Nazi, Peter Burger, had dropped a pack of cigarettes in the sand some distance away; 

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