This book was first published in 1957 and was recently republished without much being altered. Crucially, a lot of information has since become declassified and is now available for more modern accounts of what happened and when. Whilst that should NOT influence any review of the original work, it does raise questions about that work being reproduced over 50 years later without incorporating such new information.
The London Blitz was a torrid time during which that capital city was bombed every night over a period of 51 days. The "Malta" Blitz is less well known but involved continued bombing - day and night!, for an uninterrupted period of 150 days! Against this background of constant danger, neither ship nor submarine was safe in harbour. Had Malta fallen, the war in North Africa would have been lost. Under British control, however, Malta-based aircraft and submarines were able to attack the vital life-lines that kept Rommel and his Afrika Corps from defeat. In this account, the author seeks to portray the role of the Malta-based submarines whose role was to attack those supply lines. As he clearly states; Half the enemy supply ships heading for North Africa were destroyed and, at the same time, half of Malta's submarines failed to return from patrol... What he does not credit, however, is how many of those enemy ships were lost to aircraft action.
Whilst the book doers have a very readable quality, it is heavily reliant on the many first-hand accounts of those who took part. Unfortunately, that is where my biggest problem lies. Much of the text is in reported speech - denoted by quotation marks which proclaim this is "precisely" what was said. Such accuracy of detail would require every single conversation - in every submarine, every office, every home, every street, café and bar, to be either tape-recorded or written down verbatim at the time it took place. This did not happen! We can all remember the gist of a conversation we had yesterday, but how many of us are able to remember the precise words used by all who took part? This exposes the very credibility of the work and of the limited research undertaken.
I would, therefore, caution any researcher from repeating what any person is reported to have said in this book - on the grounds that the many, many quoted conversations simply cannot be accurate. Nevertheless, whilst I also feel that the book should have been left in 1957 (where it belongs!) it is able to at least give the reader a taste of what life was worth in Malta during these darkest of times. But then John Wayne's fictional portrayal of an officer in the Green Berets during the Vietnam War did pretty much the same thing with regard to that conflict.
My copy, incidentally, is marked with a sale price of Two Shillings in 1957. That is Ten Pence (UK) or about Fifteen Cents (US) in today's currency. In terms of factual accuracy, research and attention to detail, that is just about what the book is worth today reprinted or not.