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HMS Ulysses Paperback – 1 Nov 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New Ed edition (1 Nov. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006135129
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006135128
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 11.4 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 58,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

‘A brilliant, overwhelming piece of descriptive writing.’
Observer

‘A story of exceptional courage which grips the imagination.’
Daily Telegraph

‘It deserves an honourable place among 20th-century war books.’
Daily Mail

‘HMS Ulysses is in the same class as The Cruel Sea.’
Evening Standard

About the Author

Alistair MacLean, the son of a Scots minister, was brought up in the Scottish Highlands. In 1941 he joined the Royal Navy. After the war he read English at Glasgow University and became a schoolmaster. The two and a half years he spent aboard a wartime cruiser were to give him the background for HMS Ulysses, his remarkably successful first novel, published in 1955. He is now recognized as one of the outstanding popular writers of the 20th century, the author of 29 worldwide bestsellers, many of which have been filmed.


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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Jan. 2000
Format: Paperback
When I first came across "HMS Ulysses", I read it from cover to cover without putting it down - three times in a row. The story about the captain and crew of the HMS Ulysses, the story about men driven to the limit and far beyond by terror, cold and hunger, who somehow kept going because of their love and devotion to one extraordinary man, was one of the saddest, most capturing and most compelling stories I've ever read. I could almost feel the crew's desperation, feel the piercing cold, hear - and be tormented by - the captain's ripping cough. Not many books have the power to capture me that way.
I know "HMS Ulysses" almost by heart by now - but whenever I read it, I still do it from cover to cover, without putting it down. Once I begin, I just can't let it go until it's all over.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Tord Eriksson on 9 July 2004
Format: Paperback
As many reviewers before I can just concur: This is the best Alister Maclean, by far, and one of the best naval stories, ever. Nicolas Monsarrat's The Cruel Sea (available on DVD!) is similar in many ways, but this is much more hard-hitting and gut-wrenching.
And for me, it is the only Maclean that has stood up to rereading, over and over again.
Let's hope it will be filmed one day!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Jan. 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the most upsetting, compelling, the saddest and the best book I have ever read. I first read it in 1987 when I was 14 and since then I have lost count of how many times I have read it - around 15. I am still upset when I finish it. I am still wound up like a tightrope coming into the last few chapters. Thinking if only... It is also the most powerful anti-war book that I have read. It highlights the heroism and folly that comes of war. This is not to be missed. Although a work of fiction, the book was drawn from the authors own experiences of convoy duty during WW2. It is set on a cruiser escorting a large convoy to Murmansk in Russia. The convoy, which has a large fleet shadowing it, is part of a trap set to sink the German ship Tirpitz. To say much more would destroy the plot but I can say that there are submarines, planes and enemy ships aplenty. It is a must read.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
Alistair Maclean is author of some of the best war fiction in the world – notably the Guns of Navarone and Where Eagles Dare – but in this book he has surpassed the rest.
Seeing as I loathe spoilers in reviews, I shall keep them to a minimum! This book centres around the eponymous HMS Ulysses, a frigate in World War II. This ship is used on the arctic convoy runs to Murmansk, a vital part of the allied war effort sadly largley igonred by the Soviet government after the war. These convoy runs were the worst of the war, featuring not only the Kriegsmarine’s U-Boats, but also sub-zero temperatures, blizzards, and twenty-hour days. Combine all these and you have a good a picture of hell as it is possible to get. The men of the Ulysses think so too, and have mutinied. As the book starts, an Admiral is discussing the failed mutiny and what should be done with the Ulysses. It is decided that, to atone, she should escort one last convoy – FR77 – to Murmansk, then she will be sent to the Mediterranean theatre. The voyage that follows is truly appalling in every sense of the word. In particular, the pathos engendered by Maclean’s descriptions of men having to endure such agony is unspeakable. For me, the most poignant character is Ralston, the torpedo gunner. Without giving away too much, he does something no-one should have to do, and Vallery, the father-figure of the captain, suffers so much in making him do it and then realsiing what he has done to Ralston. It must be read to be fully experinced in all its emotional intensity.
The only comparable book to this is, in my opinion, All Quiet on the Western Front, though HMS Ulysses is far more bitter and gritty. There is a rawness exuded by the book, a sense of despair and loss permeating every line.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bahoonies on 28 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
I had read Alistair MacLean as a teenager and enjoyed his writing very much. But I had to wait until now at the age of 57 to pick up HMS Ulysses. How could I have allowed this treasure to elude me for so long? This book starkly portrays the horrors of war at sea where the savage elements, the unbelievable cold and the implacable enemy combine to strip away all hope. But that is only half of the whole, for HMS Ulysses is full of compassion, human warmth and wonderful characters so beautifully portrayed that it was so easy to identify with them and their trials and imagine that this great ship and her extraordinary crew really existed. Such was the power of the writing that I was left with a feeling of loss when I reached the end of the final page, and yet somehow uplifted by the whole experience. Other contributers have confessed to being reduced to tears on occasion. Was I? God, yes and unashamedly so. HMS Ulysses is a masterpiece and a beautiful story that you must read, and if there were a way of awarding it more than 5 stars, I would gladly do so. Don't wait more than 40 years like I did. Buy it now and don't loan it to anybody. Let them buy their own copy. They'll want to anyway.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gerard Walls on 13 July 2005
Format: Paperback
This, Alistair MacLean's first novel, is an incredible mixture of bravery, tragedy, suspense, pathos, and heart-stopping action.
Very much an anti-war story, it tells of the grim voyage of the Arctic convoy FR77, and in particular one of its escort vessels, the light cruiser of the title, HMS Ulysses.
As a thriller, the book is without equal, but its other main strength is the great variety of its characters, virtually all of which are amazingly true to life.
The ending is satisfyingly tragic, and will bring a tear to even the most cynical reader's eye.
Highly recommended.
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