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Battle of the River Plate: A Grand Delusion [Kindle Edition]

Richard Woodman
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Battle of the River Plate was the first major naval confrontation of the Second World War, and it is one of the most famous. The dramatic sea fight between German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee and the British cruisers Exeter, Ajax and Achilles off the coast of South America caught the imagination in December 1939. Over the last 60 years the episode has come to be seen as one of the classics of naval warfare. Yet the accepted interpretation of events has perhaps been taken for granted and is ripe for reassessment, and that is one of the aims of Richard Woodman's enthralling new study.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1656 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword (24 Aug. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0091WB9TE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #165,285 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
The Battle of the River Plate was immortalised in a film in which Peter Finch played the dashing and very courteous Captain Langsdorf. In this account, however, we learn the true nature of events which led to loss of one of the most beautiful battleships ever constructed - the Admiral Graf Spee.

In a work which oozes careful and meticulous research, author Richard Woodman has provided both the historian and the casual reader with an excellent account of the end of a once great ship. It just so happened that the Graf Spee was already at sea when war was declared in 1939. Acting with all the courtesy of an officer of the old "Imperial" German Navy, Langsdorf executed an amazing string of heavy blows against the British Empire by attacking her shipping. Each vessel mentioned is also portrayed by sketch. Yes, it is true that he never sank a warship, but it is also true he never killed a single sailor on any of the merchant ships he encountered.

At the beginning of this colossal adventure, time was on Langsdorf's side. At the end, however, that time ran out and, acting on instructions from Hitler himself, Langsdorf scuttled his ship outside Montevideo harbour and then returned to his hotel room where he committed suicide - having never given a Nazi Salute in his life. The time was December 1939 and, although gutted by explosion and fire, it was not until 1950 that the mighty Graf Spee finally disappeared below the waves - having continued to slowly sink into the muddy seabed which became her grave.

For those who think they already know this story, there is much new information and, therefore, much to be learned from reading this full account. Furthermore, this author has made it all so very riveting, it really is a book which is hard to put down until finished.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping account 15 Jun. 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a detailed and fascinating account not only of the battle itself, in which the German commerce raider Admiral Graf Spee was critically damaged by a squadron of British cruisers at the start of WW2, but of the events leading up to it. The text is clearly presented and embellished very pleasingly with line drawings of the various ships involved. Less pleasing, to my taste, is the intrusion of heavily emphasised biographic panels that might have been better placed in an appendix. There is a small but interesting collection of photographs, and helpful maps of the raider's cruise. It is perhaps pedantic to complain of sloppy syntax and the odd conspicuous misprint.
The "grand delusion" of the subtitle is apparently the notion that modern warfare could continue to be waged in the chivalrous manner displayed by the German Captain Langsdorff in his dealings with the crews of ships he was required by circumstances to sink. This is exemplified in particular by the extraordinary empathy developed between him and one of his captive merchant captains, although it was only an extreme example of the high regard in which he was generally held by his prisoners. A minor delusion may have been of the special threat to shipping posed by pocket-battleship raiders: as his own supply ship's commander noted, Langsdorff's overall tally, with his magnificent ship and thousand-plus crew, could have been matched by forty men in a submarine.
Despite minor faults, this book is heartily recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where's the delusion ? 17 Jan. 2014
By johno
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is merely a synopsis of other books on the same subject,in fact the author makes a glaring error in describing HMS Exeter during the battle has having X and Y gun turrets out of action.Exeter carried 6 x 8 inch guns in 3 turrets,she did not have an X turret.
A good description of the battle,but nothing new.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Adequate history of well-known episode 14 April 2009
Reasonable account of the short-lived wartime career of the Graf Spee which covers the main bases. Good narrative coverage of the cruise of the Spee, the battle of the River Plate and its aftermath, and a nice touch is provided by sketches of the ships involved. However, contrary to the claims on the dust jacket the book offers little new in the way of analysis or explanations of the main controversies, so if this is what you are after you should check out Grove's earlier book.
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