Thomas C. Sanger - Author of Without Warning - photo

A Message From the Author

Hello and welcome to my website. My historical novel, Without Warning (River Grove Books), is based on actual people and events. It tells the little-known story of Athenia’s tragic sinking at the beginning of World War II. Elsewhere on this site you can read an excerpt, find a brief description of the story, and learn more about the research behind the writing.

I first became interested in writing about Athenia, a British passenger liner sunk by a German U-boat, because my grandmother, Rhoda Thomas, was aboard the ship. Over the years, I found that many people knew of the Lusitania, which was torpedoed by a U-boat during World War I, but few had ever heard of Athenia, even though 30 Americans died in that attack, more than two years before Pearl Harbor. In researching the book, I read many inspiring and harrowing accounts written by other survivors and spoke to a handful of them who are still alive. What began as a project to remember my grandmother has become for me an effort to honor the memories of Athenia’s passengers whose heroism and sacrifices have been overshadowed by the war’s greater conflagrations.

Tom’s Athenia Blog

World War II on Our Doorstep

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, Americans feared Japanese assaults on the west coast of the United States. Indeed Japanese submarines shelled targets in California and Oregon, and Japanese soldiers invaded the Aleutian Islands in Alaska for a brief time in 1942. But many Americans might be surprised to learn that during... Read More

Rhoda’s Story, Part 7

In Part 6 of Rhoda’s Story, my grandmother and 235 other Athenia survivors sailed on to Canada aboard an American freighter, The City of Flint, after their passenger ship had been sunk by a German submarine. Early Sunday morning, Sept. 10, a young girl, who had suffered injuries when Athenia was attacked, died aboard the... Read More