On May 19, 1942, a U-boat in the Gulf of Mexico stalked its prey fifty miles from New Orleans. Captained by twenty nine-year-old Iron Cross and King's Cross recipient Erich Wurdemann, the submarine set its sights on the freighter Heredia with sixty-two souls on board. Most aboard were merchant seamen, but there were also a handful of civilians, including the Downs family: Ray and Ina, and their two children, eight-year-old Sonny and eleven-year-old Lucille. Fast asleep in their berths, the Downs family had no idea that two torpedoes were heading their way. When the ship exploded, chaos ensued—and each family member had to find their own path to survival. Including original, unpublished material from Commander Wurdemann’s war diary, the story provides balance and perspective by chronicling the daring mission of the U-boat—and its commander’s decision-making—in the Gulf of Mexico. An inspiring historical narrative, So Close to Home tells the story of the Downs family as they struggle against sharks, hypothermia, drowning, and dehydration in their effort to survive the aftermath of this deadly attack off the American coast.
Michael Tougias is the author and co-author of twenty-three non-fiction books, including several true survival-at-sea adventures, such as Rescue of the Bounty, Fatal Forecast, Overboard!, A Storm Too Soon, and The Finest Hours (soon to be a major motion picture by Disney). Ten Hours Until Dawn was selected as one of the American Library Association's "Best Books of the Year."