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Lone Wolf: The Life and Death of U-Boat Ace Werner Henke [Hardcover]

Timothy P. Mulligan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: £75.00
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Book Description

30 Aug 1993
This book relates the life and the death of the rebel German seaman who became one of the most successful U-Boat commanders of World War II. The story of Werner Henke--and a narrative outlining the history of his boat, U-515, and its crew--forms the basis for a biography of a man who defies the stereotypes of German character, who never fit in as a career officer in the German Navy, but who chose a suicidal death in acceptance of the code of the military service whose rules he continually bent and broke. Though the story Mulligan relates is engrossing and action-packed, it is also a carefully documented study that breaks new ground in uncovering the sociological background of Henke and his crew; in short, it is a study in German history as well as a biography of a U-Boat Commander. Examining the backgrounds and attitudes of the crew, including their views on Hitler and the treatment of the Jews, Mulligan sheds new light on the men who constituted an elite in Hitler's Wehrmacht. The story of U-515 is also closely correlated to the overall conduct of the U-Boat war, including assessments of Karl Donitz's strategy, the influence of technological innovations, and the contributions of Allied signal intelligence. Henke's confrontation with the Gestapo and a detailed account of the sinking of the passenger liner Ceramic further add to the story, revealing the complex reality behind an image too long dominated by propaganda stereotypes.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger Publishers (30 Aug 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275936775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275936778
  • Product Dimensions: 25 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,247,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

?This excellent volume uses a comprehensive array of primary and secondary sources to paint a vivid portrait not only of this maverick of the Kriegsmarine but of a whole generation of German naval officers, especially U-boat veterans.?-Booklist

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lone Wolf 14 Dec 2002
Format:Hardcover
This book has been thoroughly researched and well written. Werner Henke was quite a colourful character of the U-Boat service; often having problems with authority.
He was however highly thought of by Admiral Donitz for his leadership abilities and mentioned by name in his own memoirs, for the Commanders brilliance.
The book lists Wenke's exploits, how he was captured and his death; after a breakout from a POW camp. The Book is well worth reading; and therefore value for money.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lone Wolf 14 Dec 2002
Format:Hardcover
This book has been thoroughly researched and well written. Werner Henke was quite a colourful character of the U-Boat service; often having problems with authority.
He was however highly thought of by Admiral Donitz for his leadership abilities and mentioned by name in his own memoirs, for the Commanders brilliance.
The book lists Wenke's exploits, how he was captured and his death; after a breakout from a POW camp. The Book is well worth reading; and therefore value for money.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great accomplishment at bringing a clear picture of the German U-boat wars. 10 Feb 2007
By Douglas E. Libert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
another truly great u-boat book that gives a studied approach to the WW2 submarine conflict and also downgrades Buchheim"s Das Boot as a true picture of a U-Boat crew.Buchheim describes the typical German u-boat sailor as so young that he terms their role in the submarine service as a "childrens crusade" however according to Mulligan's statistics this is not so.Also this book compares the different type of U-Boats-the niners and the sevens and gives their capacities and their shortcomings.The crews of these boats came mainly from cental and northern Germany,the more industrial regions which contradicts what i had previously read that these crews were from rural areas. Also there is an interesting chapter about the U-boat pecking order which makes absurdity of Buchheims,' Das Boot crews","we are one in suffering"mentality.The crews from this books' read seem like they would act as individuals guarding their own turf but can function as a team,indeed that would probably make for a more efficient crew as well as better for morale.You're going to love this book if you're into the Battle of the Atlantic,human interest stories mixed with some good statistics.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Loved the Book, If Not Henke! 30 Aug 2008
By John W. Dacey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"Lone Wolf" is a very interesting book, biography/history told in a compelling fashion! The author, Timothy Mulligan, is to be congratulated on the different focus which he puts on the upbringing of Kapitaenleutnant Werner Henke, a very successful, if not overly bright German Submarine Commander during the last big war (it was in all of the papers!). Mulligan Illustrates differences between Naval Academies in the USA and Germany, which are very clever weeding-out processes and pecking order heirarchies within particular submarines, I guess one can find "office politics" everywhere. There is also eye-opening material about the aspect of intelligence/espionage and propaganda as used by both sides in the "Battle of the Atlantic" Unfortunately, though not a Nazi by any stretch or use of the word, Henke was not without integrity which more than likely lead to his undoing! That and an innate gullibility led to his demise. It's a good book, though, not $120.00 good but you should read it if submarines are a vital part of your interest!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars book review 12 Nov 2013
By James Gill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
nice book, good story, if you like true stories as I do of a German not a Hitler gang member
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating & Innformative Book 27 April 2013
By A. Nathaniel Wallace, Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I remember first reading about Werner Henke in a Washington Post article more than 10 years ago. The article may have been a book review. Then, in 2003 while at Barnes & Noble I decided to purchase the book. I'm sorry to say that it took me so long to read it but I'm glad that I did. In the intervening years I've read Peter Cremer's autobiography, Wolfgang Luth's biography and a general U-Boat book called Germany's Last Mission To Japan, by Joe Scalia. This book by Timothy Mulligan is by far the best of all of them.

Timothy Mulligan's book is stellar because it has the advantage of being written 50 years after the events it describes, this allowing for major reflection. The book is littered with quotes and great anecdotes about the life and times of wener Henke, a remarkable man who fought for the wrong cause and unfortunately (For Him) was doomed from the beginning. Serving aboard a U-Boat was a death sentence as the statistics show. 757 U-Boats were sunk out of 1100 built during WWII. 70% of the U-Boaters died (28,000) while 5000 hapless souls were captured by the Allies. That most of his crew survived the war is a testament to Henke's skill and luck. Indeed, the top eight U-Boat aces all survived the war (Luth Survived His Last Patrol Only To be Slain By A Startled Sentry), including 10 of the top 12. I include Henke in this list because he survived to be captured and only died because of an escape attempt which was suicide by guard on his part. The fact that the majority of the best U-Boat captains survived until the end of the war was a testament to their knowledge, experience, guile, gall and luck. All these wer eneeded to survive against the oppressive might of the Allies.

That Henke was not an automaton says something of his character. On page 158-159 Mulligan describes Henke going to the office of Gauleiter Franz Hoffer of Austria Tyrol and dressing down the secretary for the treatment of a decent family at the hands of the Gestapo. This caused him problems and might have derailed his career had a war not been going on. Mulligan also details the one instance of a U-Boat captain firing on helpless refugees from a sunken vessel. Contrary to popular belief, the Germans did not gun down the helpless sailors in lifeboats. The scene in the movie U-571 is bogus for example. The primary sources and secondary sources bolster this book to a level I have seldom seen in a World War II biography. Page 170-171 wa salso fascinating. Oskar Kusch, commander of U-154's fate will be of great interest to those who realize that suppoort for Hitler was far from complete, even whithin the German military. I was frustrated, however, by Mulligan's refusal to name the officer who rated Kush out. It led me to believe that it was the man who subsequently took over command of U-154, but this wa snot the case. I had to find the name of the man from another U-Boat source and even then it is no corroborated in any other book of mine.

Mulligan should be congratulated for constructing a narrarrative that withstands the tests of time and showcases Werner Henke and his family and friends in every possible light possible. Henke was not perfect, but he was not a Nazi monster either. His sinking of the Ceramic was used against him by American interrogators, and as a result of this he feared he would be executed in a show trial in a British courtroom. This is what caused him to commit suicide by guard. Henke served his cause admirably, yet in the end, like all those who fought on the side of the Axis, he played out a losing hand. Yet Henke the officer deserved better. Unfortunately for him he did not live to see the end of the war. Germany could have used men like him in the rebuilding of the nation.

Buy this book and you will not be disappointed.

A. Nathaniel Wallace, Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars North Atlantic sub 16 Oct 2012
By Pat of Louisiana - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was very good in its discriptions. The title certainly was appropriate. I would highly recomend it. If you are interested in books of the North Atlantic during WW!!, this is one for you.
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