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Command Decisions: Langsdorff and the Battle of the River Plate [Hardcover]

David Miller
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

21 Feb 2013 Command Decisions
This compelling new study of the Battle of the River Plate concentrates on Kapitan zur See Hans Langsdorff, the commander of the German pocket battleship Graf Spee - it is written from his point of view. The story of his mission at the start of the Second World War to prey on merchant shipping is graphically retold, and Langsdorff's command decisions are the primary focus of David Miller's gripping narrative. He considers in vivid detail the factors Langsdorff had to consider as he assessed the situation of his ship and choose his course of action. He describes the intelligence Langsdorff received and his knowledge of the position and strength of the forces of the Royal Navy that were arrayed against him. Langsdorff's interpretation of his mission and the tense calculations he had to make in order to carry it out are the essential elements of this dramatic story. Langsdorff, operating alone and thousands of miles away from home and with no prospect of support, had to grapple with the enormous burden of a lone command. He made grave mistakes, and these are ruthlessly exposed. But this fascinating re-examination of his actions and his leadership does nothing to diminish his reputation as a brave and honourable officer.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Maritime (21 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848844905
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848844902
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 700,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The Battle of the River Plate must be one of the best known naval engagements of the 20th century. There have been plenty of books about the battle, but this one focuses on her Captain, Hans Langsdorff, portrayed by the author, David Miller, as a 'decent, honourable and compassionate man' and a professional naval officer. Miller gives a sympathetic but clinically analytical study of the pressures facing Langsdorff, a man who always behaved with great integrity. Perhaps this book should be subtitled the 'loneliness of command'. It is a superb analysis of a man under great strain during war, and a stimulating read. Scuttlebutt This is a welcome addition to the bibliography of the Battle of the River Plate. WARSHIPS INTERNATIONAL FLEET REVIEW Readers may judge that Miller's account makes up for the failure of another recent book on the same battle to analyse Langsdorff's decision making fully. This is a welcome addition to the bibliography of the Battle of the River Plate. Warships

About the Author

David Miller has had seventy books published on subjects ranging from Richard the Lionheart, through the samurai, to U-boats and the Battle of Waterloo. His great love is the sea - his father was a naval officer - and this book is the outcome of many years' study of Captain Langsdorff, one of the most admired officers of the German Second World War Kriegsmarine.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By John
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Apart from the sheer weight of technical knowledge in this compelling account - some insight into naval procedure would be an advantage. A book that was hard to put down once commenced.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a very interesting account of graf spee 25 Oct 2013
By geoff
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found this book very interesting and well written. It portrayed quite a lot from the German perspective with some interesting information from captain dove of the Africa shell. This book shed new light on a very familiar naval action ,well worth a read G Truss
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