Inspiration behind The Immortals
The inspiration behind Steven T. Collis’s new book, The Immortals, came from a small and simple thing: a three-cent postage stamp from the 1940s depicting four chaplains, a sinking ship, and the words “These Immortal Chaplains…Interfaith in Action.”
Intrigued, Collis learned the stamp was created to honor four military chaplains of different faiths — Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish Abwho made the ultimate sacrifice when a German U-boat attacked the SS Dorchester in February 1943. But during his research into what was one of the costliest troop disasters of WWII, Collis discovered another, often unrecognized, hero of the tragedy — Coast Guardsman Charles W. David, Jr.
“Charles W. David, Jr. was a young steward’s mate and one of the only Black Coast Guardsmen aboard the Coast Guard cutter Comanche,” says Collis. “While the Dorchester was sinking, David repeatedly dove into the frigid waters of the North Atlantic and single-handedly saved scores of sailors and soldiers. Sadly, his heroic efforts ultimately cost him his life, as he succumbed to pneumonia shortly after.”
Thoroughly researched and exquisitely narrated, The Immortals presents the story through dual points of view: the chaplains’ and David’s stories and the German U-boat captain’s. The U-boat commander and his crew kept meticulous journals and logs, allowing readers to experience a perspective not often seen in WWII histories.
Beyond conducting research through US and German military records and press reports, Collis was able to get detailed accounts of the event and its impact by interviewing actual survivors of the Dorchester as well as from descendants of Charles W. David, Jr., other survivors, and the chaplains. “The impact of these five men and their selfless acts of courage cannot be overstated,” Collis remarks. “Their sacrifices in the name of unity and service should be a shining example to all of us today – no matter our differences.”
The Immortals: The World War II Story of Five Fearless Heroes, the Sinking of the Dorchester, and an Awe-Inspiring Rescue will be available nationwide on May 11, 2021, wherever books are sold. For more information on Steven T. Collis and his works, visit: www.shadowmountain.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steven T. Collis is a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, founding faculty director of the school’s law and religion clinic, and founding faculty director of Texas’s Bech-Loughlin First Amendment Center. He received an MFA in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University, and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School. He is also the author of Deep Conviction: True Stories of Ordinary Americans Fighting for the Freedom to Live Their Beliefs. He and his wife are parents to five children.
Join Steven T. Collis, author of THE IMMORTALS, and Bill Kaemmer, Exec. Dir. of the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation, as well as descendants from The Dorchester, for a special event.
Everyone who signs up will receive a free bookplate signed by Steven T. Collis, and there will be giveaways during the launch party.