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Destruction of Convoy Pq-17 Mass Market Paperback – Oct 1989

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: St Martins Mass Market Paper; Reprint edition (Oct. 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312911521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312911522
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 10.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 608,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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During World War II, the beleaguered Russians depended on supplies shipped by the merchant navies of Britain and the USA to maintain their war effort. Under pressure from President Roosevelt, it was decided to run convoys past Nazi-occupied Norway in summer when it was light for 24 hours a day. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By piusv on 10 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover
An excellent thorough account of the tragedy that was convoy PQ17. Perhaps the only downside is one may get a little lost in some of the nautical detail.

For those concerned about Mr. Irving's notoriety on certain issues this should not be a barrier to reading this engaging dramatic episode of the '39-'45 War.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Lloyd on 21 April 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Highly recommended (the book, not the author). Convoy PQ17 sailed in July 1942 through the Arctic seas from Iceland to Russia. It's story is compelling. Because of the fear of a sortie by the battleship Tirpitz the First Sea Lord of the British Admiralty ordered the cruiser escort to abandon the convoy. The merchant ships and other escorts were ordered to scatter. The decision was a terrible mistake. The Tirpitz never got close to the convoy but the isolated merchant ships were easy prey to German U-boats and aircraft. 22 of the merchant ships were sunk. No escorts were lost. It was the lowest point in the otherwise illustrious history of the RN in WWII.

The author is a controversial figure. I have absolutely no sympathy for his extreme political views. This review is concerned solely with the book. I read it because of a keen interest in the subject and with considerable caution. I was surprised. This is an excellent history based on thorough research. The latter includes interviews with many participants, at sea and in the councils of war ashore. Wartime records are cited throughout, covering both German and Allied intentions at every stage. The book gives excellent insight into how and why this tragedy unfolded. For example the reluctance of the Germans to commit their capital ships is based on an abortive attack by British carrier torpedo bombers on the Tirpitz a few months earlier during a sortie in the same theatre (bringing overtones of the loss of the Bismarck). The author's biases (ie his antipathy to Churchill) are not intrusive and are evident to the reader allowing the latter to make up their own mind.

The book is the best single account of PQ17. It presents both the acts of courage and self preservation by captains and crews.
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By Scorpio on 12 Feb. 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
My father was on 18 such convoys during WW2 based out of Glasgow, and I am currently researching the story behind all of these. The book was in very good condition and represents outstanding value for money. David Irving is also an outstanding historian, despite his "reputation" and an excellent narrator of history, and I have many other of his works which are also recommended - well worth reading!
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By ronald grice on 6 Aug. 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Really very good indeed. A well told story.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Dry story; watery grave 16 Jun. 2004
By M. G Watson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David Irving's "Trail of the Fox" is the best action biography I've ever read, so when I wanted to learn more about the infamous Lend-Lease convoy PQ 17, Irving was my author of choice for source material, despite the controversy that now hangs about him as a result of his being tagged a 'holocaust denier' (a punishably crime in many European 'democracies'). I was especially intrigued that this book was banned by the British Admiralty for twenty years. Did they have a book bonfire, I wonder, or do only NSDAP students have those?
This book is a sample of Irving's early work, and is much drier and more methodical than I was hoping for. Unlike a biography, where the writer can focus on a single individual or cast of characters, a book like "Destruction" is forced to split its attention over numerous historical figures -- pilots, U-boat commanders, staff officers, ship captains -- with the result that we never really get a clear picture of any of them. Then again, the story is about the convoy, not just the people in it.
Convoy PQ 17 was a 34 ship train, with heavy naval protection, dispatched from Iceland in July of 1942 carrying hundreds of thousands of tons of American-manufactured war materials for the faltering Soviet Union. The Germans were determined to prevent it from arriving, and prepared their battleships and battle-cruisers in Norway to intercept it. The British Adminralty got wind of this, panicked, and withdrew the convoy's naval escort, ordering the convoy to scatter and make Soviet ports alone. When the Germans realized this, they threw in every aircraft and U-boat available on the now-defenceless mass of ships tacking over the Arctic Circle. What followed was the biggest single massacre
of merchant ships at sea in World War II -- twenty-two of the thirty four transports were sunk by aircraft or U-boats, hundreds of men drowned in icy waters or were captured, and more than 100,000 tons of spare parts, explosives, tanks, aircraft, fuel oil, and God alone knows what else sank to the bottom of the ocean, where it all remains to this day (and for all time). The slaughter was so severe the PQ convoy route (Iceland to Murmansk and Archangel) was suspended afterwards, the Soviets screamed bad faith, and the British Admiralty began a systematic attempt to muzzle the truth of what had happened (hence the banning of this book).
Irving recounts all the strategy, planning, accident, confusion, cowardice, and heroism in a dry, by the numbers fashion, as if reciting a list of figures. Sometimes the human moments break through, and they are moving and horrifying: men are left adrift on icy seas with only the cigarettes, congac and advice their German attackers threw them to sustain them ("Russia is 400 miles that way, start paddling"); a German pilot lands his seaplane in the path of an onrushing British destroyer under heavy fire to rescue a shot-down comrade; teenage British gunners volunteer to man their AA weapons to the last round even as their ship sinks. Unfortunately, Irving tends to go too deep into all the fruitless planning of the various Naval Staffs and leaves these human moments fewer and farther between than I wanted.
In light of the present war in Iraq, the most interesting point made by the book is how truly difficult the so-called "intelligence game" really is. British Intelligence is portrayed in books and novels as being almost Omnipotent in its genius, besting the Germans over and over again in World War II, and indeed the Brits won numerous intelligence triumphs, some of them staggering in their brilliance. But in the case of Convoy PQ 17, the Admiralty misread the facts, saw an enemy fleet where there was none (the Germans actually never committed their heavy battleships, fearing Allied aircraft carrier attack) and left a helpless convoy at the mercy of the Luftwaffe and wolf packs.
Intelligence is a brutally difficult affair, with horrendous consequences for even small mistakes, and a constant orgy of Monday-morning quaterbacking by men of self-righteous personality and cowardly character. Hack novelists often refer to it as "the great game." I doubt very much if the men who drowned in freezing water looked at it that way, and I prefer Dirty Harry Callahan's view: "Funny....I never thought of it as a game."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An essential history of a major convoy battle 10 Jun. 2013
By Joseph Bishop - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I can see why David Irving wrote this book. So many lies have been told about this convoy by the Allied governments and the censorship that has kicked in, mandated that someone tell the whole truthful story.

The disaster to this convoy by the Germans in 1942 show that should this have been the norm with other convoys, the USSR would not have gotten the aid it wanted and Britain would have been essentially strangled into submission. In short, Germany would have won the war.

I did find it interesting that while Hitler restricted naval policy involving capital ships to a very cautionary level, he later critiqued Admiral Raeder and his naval command for being excessively cautious in not using those ships. He wanted to 'scrap' the big ships - a threat he never carried out - but had he done so and the metal been put into aircraft and U-boats, the possibilities of victory would have come a bit closer.

One thing that comes through clearly in the narrative is that the Germans nearly always were very chivalrous and humane in helping the survivors of the ship sinkings, providing them with food, water, maps, etc. and advice to on how to survive and get to the nearest landfall. This is massively at variance with American propaganda in particular, filled with lies about Germans machine-gunning survivors and similar nonsense.

Irving gives the British and Americans a human face, but the Germans are left somewhat anonymous. It would have been a good thing to show them in the same way, to demonstrate that each 'has a story to tell', on both sides, and that war is thus a tragedy for the individual. Hence no 5th star.

A very interesting read and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in the WW2 war at sea in general and the convoy battles in particular.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Great work by a controversial "historian" 15 Dec. 2005
By A. Courie - Published on
Format: Hardcover
David Irving's The Destruction of Convoy PQ-17 is a well-researched and well-written story of one of the northern Lend-Lease convoys to Soviet Russia during World War II. Due to a series of maneuvers by the Germans, messages by the British, and mistakes, the convoy scattered and suffered very high losses to German U-boat and air attack before the survivors finally reached Soviet Russia. Irving's account of this action is one of the most readable narratives of any sea action that I have ever read.

(The author is a controversial "historian" and a Holocaust-denier. This book pre-dates his public refutation of the Holocaust. However, Irving was sued for libel and lost because of some passages in the book about Captain Broome, the commander of the destroyer escort for Convoy PQ-17. Anyone reading this book should be aware of the libel action and should also realize that the action was based on a handful of passages that were taken out of later versions of the book. There are accounts of the libel trial on the internet. I did not even find the "libelous" actions offensive.)

Irving's account of the battle is extremely well-researched. He recounts how confused and in the dark both the British and German commands were during the battle. Much of his story is based on archival research into both the British and German commands' actions and decisions, but he fleshes out the story with great narratives based on ship logs, the memoirs of many participants, and interviews with many of the survivors. The personal stories help add a human dimension to the story, as he recounts the difficulty of trying to survive at sea in the northern latitudes with German aircraft and U-Boats stalking the ships.

Irving wrote a wonderful book that tells a fascinating and harrowing story of a WWII naval action. Even if this book is read with skepticism toward Irving's handful of criticisms of Broome, his numerous criticisms of the RN, and his later controversial history (at the time of this writing, he is in prison in Austria for Holocaust denial), it is a great work. It is a shame that someone of Irving's considerable research and writing skills has wasted them for much of his career.
Read it like a novel or an encylopedia, depending upon your interest 13 Jun. 2015
By Nice Guy - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent account of a very sad tragedy of the Second World War. Some readers may be happier viewing the book as two different books, depending upon their level of the reader's interest. The book details an infamous convoy of war materials from the west to the Northerrn part of Russia around the Northerrn tip of of Nazi-occupied Norway. Russia was putting tremendous pressure on Churchill and Roosevelt for crritically needed war materials, particularly because the Allies had not started a Westerrn front to take the pressure off of Russia. "Metronome," a historical novel gives some idea of what present day St. Petersburgh was going thourgh.

All will be very interested in the outstanding description of the planning by both sides, the state of the intellegence on botth sides, and the thought processes on both sides, leading up to the British decision to order the merchant ships and minor protective ships to scatter rather than stay together.

Some of the key intellegence questions for both sides were whether a new German battleship stationed in northern Norway was being used, would be used, or should be used by Germany, and whether Brittan had an aircraft carrier in the area.

All will find the detail of what happened to each of the ships after the convoy broke up to be distressing and depressing, despite the many acts of heroism. However, some may find the detail of the last part of the book better for skimmiing and reference than for front-to-back reading.

As some have noted, the first edition of this book resulted is a successful libel action by one of the British commanders which resulted in the largest libel award to that date against the author, the book being banned, and the publisher put out of buesiness. The first edition was written and published before many secrets of WW II came out due to secrecy laws. Even when the second edition came out, many details of the Allied breaking of the Gerrman Enigma codes were not available. (See generally, the subject of Bletchley Park or Alan Turing.)

It is a book full of citations to both Allied and German sources.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A serious book 20 Feb. 2006
By David L. Dunagin - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Other commentators have explained the basis of the book, and I agree with them. I first read this in 1968 at the age of 12, one of the first "serious" history books I have read. There are a number of photographs, and the book is heavily footnoted. I recall that I enjoyed the book and also was incredulous at the stupidity of the officers back in England over the use of the convoy as bait to try and trap the Tirpitz and the failure to protect the convoy from the U-Boats and Luftwaffe. Later on in life it was hard to compare this book with the fact that Irving seemed to deny that the holocaust took place. At the time he made these allegations there were certainly plenty of folks alive who had entered the camps as liberators. But putting that aside I thought it was a very well done book, it certainly pricked my interest into a serious study of military history. For that reason alone I like this book. 4 stars out of 5.
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