cover image Code Name Caesar: 
The Secret Hunt for U-Boat 864 During World War II

Code Name Caesar: The Secret Hunt for U-Boat 864 During World War II

Jerome Preisler and Kenneth Sewell. Berkley Caliber, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-425-24525-5

On February 9, 1945, the German U-boat 864 sank in the North Sea off the western coast of Norway. The undersea battle of U-864 and the British Navy’s HMS Venturer is the only recorded instance of one submarine stalking and sinking another while both were submerged. In 1944, with the Allies closing in, Hitler’s desperate stratagem was “sidetracking the Americans by racheting up the pressure in the Pacific,” sending German engineers, parts, and blueprints to Japan in order to jump-start production there of Germany’s advanced secret weapons. One of the items onboard was mercury, used in explosive detonators. Yet surveillance by the Norwegian underground resistance movement of coast watchers and dockyard spies sealed U-864’s fate. Today, leakage of toxic mercury from the sunken sub off Norway’s coast is an environmental threat. With suspense surfacing amid the military intrigue, this latest by Preisler and former submariner Sewell (co-authors of All Hands Down: the True Story of the Soviet Attack on the USS Scorpion) reads like a tense thriller, but the authors also keep a steady course on the human aspect of their tale as they reconstruct the events behind this little-known WWII incident and its aftermath. Photos, map. Agent: req (July 3)