Seiple, Samantha. Nazi Saboteurs: Hitler’s Secret Attack on America. New York: Scholastic Focus, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc., 2019.
Are there any elements of World War II that haven’t been thoroughly covered by fiction and non-fiction alike? While it surely depends on the expertise of the reader, there are a few details in Nazi Saboteurs that seem like home front knowledge bombs: the Japanese invaded Alaska (what ?!?) and German saboteurs came ashore in New York and Florida.
Even if the history book version has been covered, this is the story told from the point of view of the Saboteurs, only a few of them Nazi true believers. They found themselves in the United States with explosives, cash, and a mission to destroy infrastructure and industrial targets to disrupt the Allied war effort. They were trained with the usual Nazi efficient fervor, but they didn’t trust one another, and, according to many of them, their hearts weren’t in the mission. Rather, they would rather reunite with family in the U.S., help trip up the German war effort, and/or get to South America.
Nazi Saboteurs follows these eight figures as their lives lead up to the well-funded but doomed plot, as some of them work to expose the mission, and the consequences of their actions along the way. Seiple uses photographs to great benefit but following eight characters with their own agendas sometimes gets a little muddled. Still, this is a solid take on WWII on the home front and a page-turner, too.
The last chapter compares the German sabotage effort and the events that followed with 9/11 and its aftermath. Back matter includes a description of source documents (some of which are declassified court transcripts and FBI records), and an index. Features primary sources. A valuable addition to an upper elementary or middle school collection.
Dewey: 940.54 Interest Level: Grades 4-8
Awards and Reviews: Booklist, Kirkus, School Library Connection, School Library Journal
Older students might like: The Boys Who Challenged Hitler, by Phillip Hoose
Fiction pairing: The Good War, by Todd Strasser
On the Web: The FBI’s Famous Cases and Criminals: Nazi Saboteurs and George Dasch. FBI’s official take on the case.
Smithsonian Magazine: G-Men and Nazi Spies video from 1941 describing the plot featuring J. Edgar Hoover.