An electrifying new voice in military fiction, Joe Buff has written a riveting and utterly realistic submarine adventure.
Jeffrey Fuller is going back to war.
Commander Fuller has distinguished himself in battle, becoming one of America's most inspirational heroes in its war with the Berlin-Boer Axis. Time and time again, Fuller has taken his crew of elite submariners into the most dangerous waters in the world, matching wits and weapons with the best of Germany's and South Africa's fighting force, and every time he has emerged the victor.
But this time, Fuller is given an impossible mission. As the captain of America's most technologically advanced tactical nuclear submarine, Fuller is told that the Allies will lose the war unless two conditions are met. The only problem: if Fuller devotes his time to achieving one of his goals, he will sacrifice the other. With the war hanging in the balance, Fuller must accomplish the impossible, or he will lose not only his life, but the war itself.
About the Author
Joe Buff is a Life Member of the U.S. Naval Institute, the Navy League of the United States, the CEC/Seabees Historical Foundation, and the Fellows of the Naval War College. Respected for his technical knowledge, he is considered an expert on submarines and national defense. Two of his nonfiction articles about future submarine technology have won the Annual Literary Award from the Naval Submarine League. He is the author of five previous highly regarded novels of submarine warfare—Straits of Power, Tidal Rip, Crush Depth, Thunder in the Deep, and Deep Sound Channel. He lives with his wife in Dutchess County, New York.
Read an Excerpt
The Omni Shoreham Hotel,
Commander Jeffrey Fuller let the hubbub of the cocktail reception swirl around him in the huge grand ballroom of the posh and historic hotel. The crowd moved to its own indecipherable Washington rhythms. The strong conversational currents and nasty undercurrents of glittering socialites and power brokers seemed to be running way above his head, his feet hurt from standing for hours, and he was hoarse from too much talking. The weight of the bronze medallion of his brand-new Medal of Honor felt heavier and heavier on its ribbon around his neck. He tried to remind himself that the whole reception was in his honor, but Jeffrey could see by now that almost everyone had really shown up for selfish reasons. If anything, he told himself ruefully, the nation's capital during this grimmest of wartimes was more unforgivingly competitive, and more politically manic, than ever before.
Still, part of Jeffrey felt very fulfilled. He was surrounded by so much sheer energy from all these people, and this moment was the ultimate achievement of his naval career. He was also grateful that, at least for the moment, he was being ignored, lost in the crowd of civilians and of men and women in uniform. He tried to rest his eyes, which hurt from the glare of so many TV camera lights. The reporters must have gotten the footage they wanted of him, because the different clumps of extra glare from those lights were far away in the gigantic room. Jeffrey welcomed his temporary sense of solitude within the mob -- this came easily to a submariner, who lived in a cramped and crowded world and needed to make his own privacy, internally, wherever he was.
One of Jeffrey's former shipmates, stationed now at the Pentagon, came by. "Hey, Captain. Way to go!" The two of them talked for a couple of minutes, then the other man moved on.
Again, Jeffrey savored a fleeting sense of joy, a tingling in his chest, and a lightness in his gut. The Medal of Honor ...He tried not to remember that winning a medal in battle usually meant that other good people hadn't made it back.
All around Jeffrey wineglasses and cocktail glasses and soft-drink glasses clinked. Tuxedoed waiters circulated smoothly through the hundreds of guests, offering tidbits of snacks on silver trays. The offerings were meager, compared to all the events the hotel had hosted over the years, because of wartime austerity. It wasn't lost on Jeffrey that all the wines were inexpensive labels, and every one of them was American made.
Jeffrey had had little appetite at lunch. Now his stomach rumbled, not that anyone else would notice in this din. As a waiter passed, he grabbed a bite to eat -- a cracker with cheese spread.
Jeffrey realized that none of the hors d'oeuvres he'd seen all afternoon included seafood. This wasn't surprising, considering the amount of nuclear waste and fallout built up by now in the Atlantic. Some scientists said the ecological damage wasn't really that severe, that the ocean was very vast and so the toxins were hugely diluted. The relatively small tactical atomic warheads now -- used by both sides hundreds of miles from land -- weren't much compared to the many megatons the U.S. and USSR and other nuclear powers had tested in the atmosphere or in the oceans in the early Cold War. But it was very different, at least psychologically, in an actual shooting war. No one was taking chances, which was too bad. Jeffrey loved seafood.
He quickly went from feeling fulfilled to feeling glum. Some of the atomic weapons detonated in the oceans had been set off by his ship, on his orders. Jeffrey wondered for the umpteenth time how many whales and dolphins he'd killed, collateral damage to the environment as he went after high-value enemy targets. He rationalized that the Germans and Boers had started it all, this limited tactical nuclear war at sea. Allied forces needed to use nukes in self-defense. High-explosive weapons just weren't effective enough when the enemy was firing at you with fission bombs. And precision-guided high-explosive weapons weren't the cure-all some pundits had thought they'd be before the war. The Axis had figured out how to distort the Global Positioning Satellite signals, and how to detect and jam or kill a ground or airborne laser-target-homing designator. Some defense analysts had warned about such things, before the war. Maybe they hadn't been able to get the right people to listen.
Jeffrey was self-aware enough to witness his own mood swings. So here I am, in glamorous wartime Washington, D.C., wearing my country's highest medal for valor, and I feel like crap. He grabbed for another hors d'oeuvre as a pretty young waitress went by. I need to raise my blood sugar. That should help. The waitress paused politely and Jeffrey took a dumpling filled with some sort of meat. Then he watched what he already called "the process" start again.
The waitress saw his star-shaped bronze medallion out of the corner of her eye. She turned to look at his face, to make sure it was really him. Of course it was him: Commander Jeffrey Fuller, United States Navy, captain of USS Challenger. War hero. The man of the hour. On national TV, and on the cover of every newsmagazine -- the Internet was so plagued by Axis hackers and misguided hoaxes that most people used hard-copy newspapers to follow the war and the troubled economy.
"Um, sir, I ..." the young lady stammered.
Jeffrey met her eyes and waited. Submariners were very good at waiting.
She smiled, and hesitated. Then she positively beamed, and leaned a few inches too close. "Congratulations, Captain." There was a hunger, a wanting, in her eyes ...Tidal Rip. Copyright © by Joe Buff. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. 006008099X<%FIRSTCHAPT%>My Travels with Capts. Lewis and Clark, by George Shannon
July 15, 1803
If I write of this day, I must say I counted nails, screws, nuts, bolts, brads, hooks, and locks. I thought I was done when Peter, the shop's errand boy, rolled in a fresh keg of nails, and I started counting again.
This evening I plunked myself down at the kitchen table and toted up my inventory. Uncle Liam kept his hawk eye on me. Twice I added wrong and he thumped me on the head. Hard, too. At last I got the sums added up. Then Uncle said he must see my geography lesson, and I had to confess that somehow my geography book has gone missing.
"You find it, boy," Uncle said, "or I will yank down your breeches and tan your bottom." "Just you try it, Uncle. I may be scrawny, but I am strong. We'll see who gets tanned!" Or so I wish I'd said.
July 22, '03
Uncle Liam had just stepped out of the shop this afternoon when a gentleman came in. He said he'd been promised handsaws at 1 1/2 ¢ cents each, and I sold him all we had at that price. When Uncle came back and learned of the sale, he started screeching how handsaws go for 3 cents a piece, and I'd been cheated. He picked up a hammer, but I ran out of the shop before he could thump my head with that.
* * *
Snagged my breeches on a nail and tore a hole. I got out the little red "housewife" kit stuffed with needles, threads, and such that Ma gave me when I left home. I had a devil of a time poking the thread into the needle eye, but at last I got her through and stitched up the tear. A neat job, too.
July 23, '03
Uncle Liam saw me stitching. Tonight after supper, he handed me two pairs of holey socks to mend. I am half glad for his socks, as they took Uncle's mind off my lessons. No sign of my geography book. How Ma's sister came to marry Uncle Liam, I will never understand.
July 30, '03
Uncle Liam dished out rice and beans for supper. I spied chunks of pork in his bowl, but search as I might, I found none in mine. When I asked why, Uncle said, "You eat like a horse, boy. I can't hardly afford to keep you in beans." Uncle complains of a toothache.
Aug. 3, '03
Uncle Liam's tooth still nags him. The barber could pull it, but Uncle Liam says he won't spend good money on a bad tooth.
I turned my room upside down, looking for Geography Made Easy. No luck.
Aug. 4, '03
Uncle shook me awake in the night. His rotten tooth was paining him bad, and he said I must yank it. I followed him to the kitchen, where he gulped down some whiskey. Then he handed me the pliers, pressed his back to the wall, and opened wide. Uncle's breath stank worse than old Red Dog's back home, and the lantern gave poor light, but at last I found the culprit way in the back of his mouth and got a grip. I pulled. Uncle Liam hollered. We kept this up for awhile, but nothing came of it. Next I braced my foot against his gut, and twisted and wrenched that tooth in a most horrible manner, but it would not be yanked. At last Uncle shoved me aside. He staggered off to bed, saying it is a good thing I am not a tooth-puller's apprentice. For once, I agree with my uncle.
Aug. 5, '03
The barber pulled the tooth. Uncle Liam brought it home. He says he paid so much for this tooth, it would be a shame to toss it out, so he set it on the mantle for a decoration, propped up against the frame holding a lock of hair from Ma's poor dead sister.
Aug. 6, '03
Peter is fevered. Uncle says I must run to the wharf in his stead to fetch a batch of hinges. At last I am to escape this musty shop!
* * *
No sooner had I set foot on the wharf, than a hairy black beast lunged at me and knocked me down. I grabbed the monster's throat. I was near to choking the life out of it when a man shouted, "Seaman, off!" The beast leaped from me.
A tall, yellow-haired man in a military jacket put out a hand and hauled me to my feet. He asked if I was hurt. I said I was not but backed away, saying I'd never been up close to a bear.
The man laughed. "This is no bear," he said. "Seaman is a Newfoundland dog, a breed known to be most gentle and intelligent." He added that he was puzzled as he had never known his dog to leap on anyone before.
The man gave me his name then: Captain Meriwether Lewis. His shaggy dog eyed me, very eager. He put me in mind of my old Red Dog, hoping for supper scraps, and I guessed the reason for the attack. From my breast pocket I drew one of the dried beef sticks I've taken to carrying to ease my hunger pangs between meals. I held it out, Seaman took it, and we became fast friends.
Captain Lewis said, "Young man, would you care to see a great marvel?"
I cared to, and he led the way down the wharf, stopping beside a half-finished boat.
"I designed her myself," the Captain said proudly. "She is fifty-five feet long. When complete, she will have a cabin at the stern and benches for twenty-two men pulling oars."
I asked where he was bound in such a fine craft, and his eyes lit up.
"If the whiskey-guzzling sluggard of a boatbuilder ever finishes her up," he said, "I will shove off for the Pacific Ocean!"My Travels with Capts. Lewis and Clark, by George Shannon. Copyright © by Kate McMullan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.