New book by Inside Edition executive producer honors U.S. Navy on the 80th anniversary of a mission that turned the tide of World War II

NEW YORK CITY – In “Codename Nemo” (June 4, 2024, Diversion Books), Inside Edition’s Charles Lachman masterfully transforms a pivotal moment in history into a gripping narrative, chronicling the daring exploits of American sailors who outsmarted the Nazis by capturing a U-boat and unlocking its trove of intelligence secrets. 

On June 4, 1944 — two days before D-Day — the course of World War II was forever changed. That day, a U.S. Navy task force achieved the impossible — capturing a German U-Boat, its crew, all its technology, Nazi encryption codes, and an Enigma cipher machine. Led by a nine-man boarding party and the maverick Captain Daniel Gallery, U.S. antisubmarine Task Group 22.3’s capture of U-505 in what came to be called Operation Nemo was the first seizure of an enemy ship in battle since the War of 1812, one of the greatest achievements of the U.S. Navy, and a victory that many believe shortened the duration of the war.  

Lachman’s white-knuckled war saga and thrilling cat-and-mouse game is told through the eyes of the men on both sides of Operation Nemo — German U-Boaters and American heroes like Lt. Albert David (“Mustang”), who led the boarding party that took control of U-505 and became the only sailor to be awarded the Medal of Honor in the Battle of the Atlantic; and Chief Motor Machinist Zenon Lukosius (“Zeke”), a Lithuanian immigrant’s son from Chicago who dropped out of high school to enlist in the Navy and whose quick thinking saved the day when he plugged a hole of gushing water that was threatening to sink U-505.  

Three thousand American sailors participated in this extraordinary adventure; nine ordinary American men channeling extraordinary skill and bravery finished the job; and then — like everyone involved — breathed not a word of it until after the war was over. Nothing leaked out. In Berlin, the German Kriegsmarine assumed that U-505 had been blown to bits by depth charges, with all hands lost at sea. They were unaware that the U-Boat and its secrets, to be used in cracking Nazi coded messages, were now in American hands. They were also unaware that the 59 German sailors captured on the high seas were imprisoned in a POW camp in Ruston, Louisiana, until their release in 1946 when they were permitted to return home to family and friends who thought they had perished. Following Operation Nemo step-by-step, Lachman has crafted a deeply researched, fast-paced World War II narrative for the ages.

“Codename Nemo:  The Hunt for a Nazi U-Boat and the Elusive Enigma Machine”

Charles Lachman | June 4, 2024 | Diversion Books | Nonfiction 

Hardcover | ISBN 1635768713 | $29.99 


Charles Lachman is the author of “Codename Nemo” (June 4, 2024, Diversion Books). His previous books include “Footsteps in the Snow,” “The Last Lincolns,” “A Secret Life,” and the crime novel, “In the Name of the Law.” He is also the executive producer of the nationally syndicated news magazine, Inside Edition. He has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, History Channel, Lifetime, C-Span and other local and national media. He lives in New York City. Find out more about him at

Follow Charles Lachman on Facebook: @AuthorCharlesLachman

In an interview, Charles Lachman can discuss:

  • The 80th anniversary of the capture of U-505 and the legacy of this mission as a monumental achievement in naval history
  • How a serendipitous encounter at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago sparked his curiosity about U-505 and led him to uncover a captivating story that deserved to be shared with the world
  • How “Codename Nemo” distinguishes itself from other accounts of WWII missions by focusing on the human experience, delving into the lives of the U.S. sailors on the boarding party and their German counterparts
  • How the seizure of this German U-boat helped expedite the end of WWII, and understanding the significance of this military mission in the broader context of WWII
  • The incredible men behind Operation Nemo, and the bravery and skill necessary to the success of this mission
  • Discovering a treasure trove of videotaped interviews with the American and German sailors involved in the raid, and how these personal anecdotes provided invaluable insights that enriched the narrative of his book
  • His writing process — including what drew him to this subject, and how he balanced a demanding work schedule while delving into dense and complex subjects for his book
  • Larger ethical discussions about warfare, espionage and the treatment of enemy combatants

Early Praise for “Codename Nemo” by Charles Lachman

“Crisp as a torpedo striking the water, ‘Codename Nemo’ pulls you along with a deeply personal account of the hunters on both sides of an amazing drama.”

—Walter R. Borneman, author of “The Admirals” and “Brothers Down”

“A relentless, pressure-packed plunge into the depths of war. ‘Codename Nemo’ is a story-telling tour-de-force—indeed, the quintessential story of the Battle of the Atlantic, rendered in taut prose, and with an immediacy and intimacy that all but makes a participant of the reader. In the wake of this story, you’ll feel a profound sense of gratitude to the men who went after U-505, and to Charles Lachman for bringing them back.”

—James Sullivan, author of “Unsinkable”

“‘Codename Nemo’ is a pulse-pounding tale of high-stakes espionage and daring courage, detailing the pursuit and capture of a German U-boat at the height of World War II. Charles Lachman masterfully builds a cast of characters, German and American, whose destinies intersect in the perilous waters of the Atlantic. The vivid description of life aboard a U-boat immerses you in the claustrophobic, terrifying world of underwater warfare. As the tension builds, with each ‘ping’ of the Sonar, the thrilling plot keeps you turning the pages. A riveting narrative combining historical research with visceral scenes, ‘Codename Nemo’ is a must-read for anyone in search of a thrilling maritime adventure.”

—Andrew Dubbins, author of “Into Enemy Waters”

“The best missions involving submarines often start with an outlandish idea, and the very best make a hell of a story. ‘Codename Nemo’ does both.”

—Sherry Sontag, co-author of the New York Times bestseller “Blind Man’s Bluff”

“What a terrific read from Charles Lachman! A suspenseful, fast-paced but little-known saga of hide-and-seek between a US ‘baby flattop’ and a German U-boat during World War II. Who can resist an Irish-American commander, nicknamed ‘Full Flaps’ by his crew—always beyond his hearing of course—because of his protruding ears, who embarks with his dog, a border collie named Flabby, instigates nail-biting nighttime takeoffs and landings on his carrier for the first time in Naval history…and if that’s not enough, then proposes some cockamamie scheme of commandeering a German sub filled with secret stuff by actually attempting to board her with a nine-man team! It’s a wild, engrossing ride from start to finish with extraordinary details and insights into daily life—clashes, arguments, even suicide—aboard both German boats and American ships during the Battle of the Atlantic. This one is a winner!”

—Carole Engle Avriett, author of “Coffin Corner Boys” and “Marine Raiders”

“Charles Lachman weaves the incredible story of the capture by American forces of a German U-boat and its secrets during World War II, an operation which allowed Allied forces to shock the German Navy. Richly detailed with undeniable suspense and action, ‘Codename Nemo’ is destined for the non-fiction best seller lists.”

—Bill O’Reilly, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Killing Series

An Interview with

Charles Lachman

What drew you to this story, and why is this subject so important to you? 

I realized this could be the subject of a great book the moment I saw the U-505 exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. I turned to my wife and said, “This is a book.” Pure curiosity drew me into the story. How was it possible that a Nazi U-boat of such immense size could be seized on the high seas? And how in the world did it end up in the basement of a museum in Chicago?  

How does “Codename Nemo” distinguish itself from other accounts of WWII missions, and what unique perspectives does it offer?

There have been a few books written about U-505, but once I dived into the subject I quickly realized that they had all missed the essence of the story. Most are “tech” books focusing on U-boat technology. But my book tells the story from the point of view of the U.S. sailors on the boarding party, and their German counterparts on the U-boat.

Did you come across any unexpected discoveries while researching this topic?

Yes. Buried in the archives of the museum were hours and hours of videotaped interviews made by the American and German sailors who were involved in the raid or served on U-505. The interviews were conducted at the museum in 1999. They were old men by then, and they knew this was probably their last opportunity to talk about what happened in 1944. It was a gold mine of material. Without it, I probably could not have written the book.

What was it like to see U-505 in person at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago?

Awesome. Absolutely breathtaking. I urge everyone to see the museum in person if they ever travel or live in Chicago. Stepping into the interior of the U-boat was like stepping into another era of history. The funny thing is, my wife and I were visiting Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with our daughter. Her boyfriend wanted to keep “the parents” entertained and set up the itinerary. He suggested the museum. If not for him, I would never have seen the exhibit, and “Codename Nemo” would never have been written.

How did the U.S. Navy manage to accomplish what seemed like an impossible task with the capture of U-505?

It was an achievement of the impossible. Several events had to take place for the raid to end in triumph. Captain Daniel Gallery was the innovative genius who conceived the raid. Nine brave U.S. sailors volunteered for the mission. If not for their skill and courage the U-boat would have sunk. They were all “grease monkeys” who knew their way with a tool box. And Gallery and his sailors never gave up. When Plan A didn’t work, they went to Plane B, then Plan C and down the line. But don’t ignore the value of pure luck in the equation. Add to that the dysfunctional crew of German sailors who served for the morally bankrupt Nazi regime and failed in their duty to scuttle the boat. And let me repeat – a crazy amount of good luck. 

Could you elaborate on your writing process, particularly how you juggled your demanding role at Inside Edition with the rigorous research and attention to historical accuracy required for writing this book?

The key to writing a book when working full-time in a demanding job like mine is discipline. You have to be determined to see the project through. It’s OK to get obsessed. In fact, it’s a necessity. It’s like solving a mystery. You dig and dig until you find the answers. Let me also say that you can accomplish a lot of “side-hustle” work an hour or two every night. Working weekends is a must. It also helps to have no friends or social life – and I’m only half kidding.

What insights can today’s military and intelligence agencies glean from the capture of U-505 and its aftermath?

Maintain your intelligence activities at a top secret level. No leaks. Other than the capture itself, the most extraordinary thing to me about the “Codename Nemo” story is the fact that 3,000 U.S. sailors witnessed the capture. It wasn’t as if they heard scuttlebutt. They saw it. Yet there was not one leak. Had the Nazis learned about U-505, the entire enterprise would have been useless. In today’s era, I hope our military personnel would adhere to the same oath of allegiance. But with the ubiquitous presence of cell phones and social media, you have to wonder.

How does the U-505 mission fit into larger ethical discussions about warfare, espionage, and the treatment of enemy combatants?

Fifty-nine German sailors were taken captive in the aftermath of the seizure. They were all brought to a POW camp in Louisiana. They were not allowed to write home. Their families in Germany assumed they had been lost at sea. This was a violation of the Geneva Convention. Yet, it had to be done. It was not even a close call, in my opinion. The security of the raid had to be maintained. Otherwise, it threatened to expose one of the great secrets of the war – the Ultra Secret, which was the cracking of the Nazi code. World War II was an existential fight against the forces of Hitlerism. The war for freedom had to be won.

While this story is based on true events, “Codename Nemo” reads like an exhilarating thriller fit for the silver screen. If your book would be adapted into a movie, what actors would you like to see portray some of the key players?

The dream cast? Bradley Cooper (with a crew cut) as Capt. Dan Gallery, the mastermind behind Codename Nemo. Chris Pratt as Lt. Albert David, the commanding officer of the boarding party who died of a heart attack before he received his Medal of Honor for heroism.

For the boarding party: Austin Butler as Mac, the high school quarterback from Texas. Also Timothy Chalemett and Jeremy Allen White. And Tom Hanks playing cranky old Fleet Admiral King.  

For the captain of U-505 – Christoph Waltz. He won’t even have to imitate a German accent.

What do you hope readers take away from “Codename Nemo”?

I’d like readers who may know just a little about World War II to come away from the book with a fuller understanding about the Battle of the Atlantic and the U-boat menace and how close the Nazi submarine fleet came to strangling the Allied war effort. Another key takeaway is discovering what motivated the patriotic young American sailors who volunteered in the war and fought so valiantly. The nine members of the boarding party were mostly the sons of first generation immigrants. After the war they raised families, lived humbly, and showed a love for their country that we can all learn from.

Praise for Previous Books by Charles Lachman

“The Last Lincolns: The Rise & Fall of a Great American Family”

“This engaging book traces three generations of Abraham Lincoln’s descendants in the century following his assassination . . . notable for its liveliness.”  

—Publishers Weekly  

“An absorbing, well-researched account. . . . Compelling. . . . An important and engaging contribution not just to the burgeoning field of Lincoln studies, but to our understanding of American social history.” 

—Jean H. Baker, author of “Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography” 

“A spellbinding account of Abraham Lincoln’s family.”  

—Frank J. Williams, Founding Chair of The Lincoln Forum and Chief Justice, Rhode Island Supreme Court 

“An intimate portrait of decline. Throughout, the contrast between the great President and his descendants—living lives of little social impact or public purpose—is crystal clear.” 

—Kenneth D. Ackerman, author of “Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield”


“Footsteps in the Snow: One Shocking Crime. Two Shattered Families. And the Coldest Case in U.S. History”

“Lachman does an outstanding job making the resolution of a horrific cold-case murder into a gripping page-turner. . . . Lachman paces it perfectly, carrying the reader along on a narrative full of twists.” 

—Publishers Weekly 

“A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of President Grover Cleveland”

“Delves deeply into the affair . . . in florid cinematic detail.” 

—The New York Times

“Forget Arnold Schwarzenegger or John Edwards. One of the greatest political sex scandals happened to Grover Cleveland.” 

—The Daily Beast 

“Grover Cleveland is hot! Former Post reporter Charles Lachman rips the lid off the sex scandals–and coverups–of the man who became the only president to serve two nonconsecutive terms.”  

—New York Post 

“‘A Secret Life’ is a masterfully researched biography.”  

—New York Journal of Books 

“Splendid . . . amusingly sordid.” 

—Men’s Health 

“‘A Secret Life’ is another success, a blend of sharp detective work – he even finds out what happened to Cleveland’s supposed son – and history that reads like a gripping novel.” 

—Christian Science Monitor 

“Lachman’s research and crisp, clear writing keep the reader eager to learn more about the Buffalo native who twice was elected to the nation’s highest office.”  

—The Buffalo News 

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