“The sinking of the passenger liner Athenia is a gripping story. In Without Warning, Tom Sanger brings this tragedy to life and makes it personal. As a reader, you share the fear and the anxiety with the survivors. This is an amazing story about how the Second World War began.”
–Francis Carroll, Professor Emeritus, Manitoba University and author of Athenia Torpedoed
“Without Warning brings to life a little-known episode of World War II and celebrates the human capacity to endure under the most harrowing circumstances.”
–Rosemary Burstall, Athenia survivor
“An exciting read told from actual survivors’ perspectives.”
–Geoff Etherington, Athenia survivor
San Diego Union-Tribune, Oct. 29, 2017
On Sept. 3, 1939, in the opening days of World War II, a German submarine torpedoed the Athenia, a British liner, off the coast of Ireland. La Jolla writer Thomas Sanger’s grandmother was one of the passengers. She survived, and her tales told over the years became the inspiration for his debut novel, “Without Warning.” The story unfolds through the alternating perspectives of a half-dozen real-life passengers, the Athenia’s chief officer, and the commander of the German sub, the last one so pulse-poundingly eager to get things started that he has to give himself a one-minute timeout before firing the torpedoes. Sanger, a veteran journalist and public relations executive, uses historical documents, newspaper accounts, and interviews with survivors to create a work of historical fiction aimed at resetting the public’s memory about a little-known sinking that killed more than 100 people, most of them women or children.
La Jolla Village News, Aug. 25, 2017
“Without Warning” truly takes a hyper-personal approach to individuals across all spectrums of nationality and societal standing during these trying times. Ultimately, the work humanizes a rather savage chapter in the history of man, through telling the history of a forgotten tragedy.