Title: Convergence of Valor: The Men of the H. L. Hunley
Author: Guntis Goncarovs
Price: $16.95, paperback; $6.00, ebook
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-595-37055-9, paperback; 978-0-595-81456-5, ebook
Publisher: iUniverse Press
Point of Sale: iuniverse.com
The nineteenth century witnesses many engineering inspirations that were unsuccessful, whereas those few achievements herald the armed forces technical progress. As a piece of historical fiction, Convergence of Valor: The Men of the H. L. Hunley, adeptly illustrates those visionaries coming together to revolutionize tactical warfare. During the 1860’s Civil War ravages America, a maturing country still aligning themselves within the world. An old dilapidated building hides the engineers who build and test self-propelled torpedoes, in this case “spar torpedoes” like the H. L. Hunley used, noted also as the first submarine that successfully sinks a ship.
The main character, Gunter Rohlenhiem is a Prussian engineer who worked under renowned inventor, Wilhelm Bauer in designing a relatively successful submarine, the Brandtaucher, but was discontinued due to lack of interest. His joining the Prussian Secret Service promised him adventure however, he’s assigned to snoop around an obviously neutral England; fleshing out information regarding new weapon inventions and other advanced war technologies. After two years of waiting, he overhears a conversation that exposes plans of a submersible ship. Upon returning to his room, Gunter opens a letter from Prince Bismarck with instructions to sail for America – apparently, the His Majesty knows too.
Arriving in Charleston, South Carolina, Gunter, aka Sam Miller, meets a man who offers him an assignment to work with explosives in Mobile Alabama. Before Gunter walks away, Cox succumbs to an assassin’s bullet. Journeying to Mobile, he meets E. H. Angamar, a scientist designing self-propelled torpedoes. Mr. Angamar needs a trustworthy man who is also knowledgeable about explosives. Gunter accepts the job although never giving up his search for the carefully guarded submersible project. His clandestine activities lead him to a building where Gunter eavesdrops on their meeting. The Americans have successfully formulated a full-scale submersible ship. Months will pass before Gunter joins the engineers in constructing the war’s most essential achievement – a submarine that can launch a torpedo with devastating results. Mingled within the sober military intrigue, Gunter meets a war widow, Adrianne, sister to William Alexander’s assistant. Their relationship continues over the months leading up to his assignment on the H. L. Hunley.
Espionage flourishes as this captivating story moves forward and mistrust grows, even between long-standing friends. A civilian scientist, Mr. Angamar is commanded to join the Confederate Torpedo Bureau, an organization created by President Davis that oversees all weapon technology, ensuring its continued development. This action affirming Angamar’s suspicion that long-time friend, General Maury has, whether intentionally or inadvertently, divulged his successful torpedoes experiments to the Confederate government.
Mr. Goncarov does his research well, as my own explorations, into our country’s weaponry advancements and the real story behind the H. L. Hunley, verifies most historical facts contained in this book. As the author states in his preface the H. L. Hunley and her achievement in torpedoing a ship is a pivotal moment in oceanic warfare, and one often overlooked. More importantly, this story imparts honor upon the men who gave up their lives for ingenious technical advancement, on both sides of the war. The story’s authentic characterization captures and holds my interest as the numerous engineers and military officers give away their period ideology, fears, even inspiring a romance, during a time of great uncertainty. Lacking historically accurate verbal accounts, Mr. Goncarov provides a dramatic picture, through character dialog, of what could have transpired. After reading Convergence of Valor: The Men of the H. L. Hunley readers will thirst for more information surrounding this period in history, and then eagerly share that knowledge. Finally, let me hand over two more words – Highly Recommended.
Reviewed by: In August of 2006, Pamela broke into book review writing with Erotic Escapades, but writes for The Erotic Bookworm, The Muse Book Reviews, Romance At Heart, and now POD People. Her own web site, Chewing the Bone exhibits book reviews in multilple genres, including children and young adult fiction. With all that she has going on Pamela finds time to dabble in flash-fic writing. Although, she doesn't aspire in becoming a published novelist, because it would take valuable time away from her first love... reading.