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The Cruel Sea (Classics of War) [Paperback]

Nicholas Monsarrat
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Mar 2000 Classics of War
A maritime adventure originally published in 1951. Set in the Second World War, two ships and their crews of about a hundred and fifty men are involved in defending Atlantic convoys against impossible odds. In the CLASSICS OF NAVAL LITERATURE series.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 520 pages
  • Publisher: Burford Books (Mar 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580800467
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580800464
  • Product Dimensions: 3.3 x 14 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,575,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


'Magnificent ... the classic record of this heroic struggle' Observer 'One of the best novels that has yet been written about sailors at war' Spectator --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

After the war, Monsarrat's career as diplomat and novelist took every twist and turn in the book. He died of cancer in 1979 and was buried at sea from a destroyer, off Portsmouth. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply superb! 8 July 2008
By Mike
Simply superb, you will not read a better book about leadership, sacrifice and courage than this book. A wonderfully written book that brings home the realities of the longest battle in the second world war, the Battle for the Atlantic.

As a measure of how well regarded this book is by the Royal Navy, for those young RN officers undergoing training at Britannia Royal Naval College this book is given as a prize presented to the Cadet with the best performance in leadership.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fiction that reads like a true story 24 Sep 2002
The Cruel Sea is the story of the crew of a newly commissioned corvette, acting as an escort to merchant convoys during World War II. The crew is initially mostly inexperienced, from non-naval backgrounds. The plot focuses on their differing reactions to some of the horrifying experiences they have as the German U-boats attack their convoys with increasing success. Some will survive the war, and some won't - but all of them will be changed by their experiences.
Monsarrat served in corvettes himself during the war, and perhaps this is what gives the book an air of harsh reality. Although it is a fictionalised account, I found myself checking this part way through, because the story felt so real. Well worth reading - and if you enjoy this type of book, you may also enjoy H.M.S Ulysses, by Alistair MacLean.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This superb book tells the story of how Britain fared in the battle of the Atlantic, the longest continuous military campaign in World War II. It pitted the Allies against the superior U-Boats (which attacked in sinister-sounding "wolf-packs") and war ships of Germany and it lasted until May 1943, when the German forces were overcome by new uses of the technology available to British vessels (improved radar and sonar known as "asdics"). During this battle the Allies lost 36,200 sailors and 36,000 merchant seamen, and the Germans lost 30,000 sailers. In addition, the Germans lost only 783 submarines, while the Allies lost 3,500 merchant vessels and 175 warships. At the end of the war, Rear Admiral Leonard Murray, Commander-in-Chief Canadian North Atlantic, remarked, "...the Battle of the Atlantic was not won by any Navy or Air Force, it was won by the courage, fortitude and determination of the British and Allied Merchant Navy."

The statistics tell their own story but the individuals involved, in sometimes horrendous events, bring the numbers to life. The Compass Rose, a vessel known as a corvette - a small ship that was used to search out and attack U-Boats and also to pick up survivors from ships that had been sunk, is captained by Ericson and though there are personal problems between the initial No.1, Bennett, and his fellow officers, this is sorted out when he opts to remove himself, supposedly suffering from a duodenal ulcer. Captain Ericson and his new No.1, Lockhart, make a good team. The writing is brilliantly perceptive as long as the men are at sea and there is plenty of heart-in-mouth action here. The portrayal of men who have been torpedoed and are waiting to be picked up by rescue ships, was devastatingly realistic and horrendous.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling 30 Nov 2004
The Cruel Sea had been in my book shelf for years, as part of some book sale deal when I first opened it. Not knowing what to expect, I started reading with an open mind and found myself completely enclosed by the atmosphere of WW2.

The book, a literary masterpiece, slowly and humbly tells us stories of war, fighting and death as well as love, longing and comradeship. The characters so real and true, it is hard to believe this is not based on real events. Or should I say, of course it is! Montsarrat is well acquainted with naval affairs, having worked as an officer himself and having lived through the war. Of course characters resemble persons he has met and actions are of course depicted in the most realistic ways, I wouldn't know, being totally ignorant to naval ways.

What i do know, however, is that I still think this may be the best book I have ever read! Montsarrat was indeed a compelling author and i have tried to find more novels by him.

I recommend you to read this book, for no other reason than that it is wonderful literature.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful 23 Feb 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I first studied this classic at high school in England. The author's knowledge and love of the sea and naval battles shine through. His characterisations and the motivations he gives his cast are well-thought out. He is able to bring the reader onto the corvettes during battles, skirmishes, slack times. Monsarrat superbly describes the brutality of war, the beauty of the landscapes and seascapes, romance, pride in what the sailors are trying to achieve. A masterpiece and thoroughly deserving of its reputation. Buy it!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars keenreader 17 Jan 2012
By mrB
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books ever written, if you like this type of story. I have read this book more times than I can remember and have just purchased the kindle edition even though I already own two copies of the book. It is a story about people and the way they cope with the life that they have been thrown into without a choice. Although it is a war story it is not about war but rather relationships and coping with human frailty. It is a story of human spirit and desire to survive against all the odds.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Is this one of the best war novels ever written? Yes!
This remains one of the great war novels, creating with excruciating detail the heroic battles of a Corvette crew in the defense of the countless conveys that crossed from America... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Claudia Saatchi
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Not quite as compelling for me as Alistair Maclean's 'HMS Ulysses' but a well informed and well written account of naval life in WW2
Published 1 month ago by Simon Says
5.0 out of 5 stars We love it
I bought this to read to my Dad as it is one of his favorite books.
We love it! I can enlarge the print when he is well enough to read. Read more
Published 1 month ago by tinylinedancer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great war story of men's courage in the face of adversity
Well written & the film was very accurate to the book.
The battle against the U Boats & the elements is vividly brought to life. Read more
Published 1 month ago by grajea
5.0 out of 5 stars An Anti-war novel
Deep exploration of characters and thoughts in truly horrific circumstances highlights the futility of war. Read more
Published 1 month ago by skipper
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cruel Sea
I have seen the film which is of course no comparison to the book which is excellent reading As ex Royal Navy myself Nicholas Monsarrat is spot on!
Published 1 month ago by Keith Foyston
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly excellent story of the war in the atlantic.
As a naval nutcase, I found this book absolutely outstanding. It brings vividly to life the horrific experiences of our recent forbears my during the war in the Atlantic, only... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Hugh Alexander McDonald
5.0 out of 5 stars Really excellent
I have seen the film of this book many times but have only just read the book. It is really excellent and it makes the reader want to turn pages to find out what comes next. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Paul Rochester Kent
5.0 out of 5 stars An unbeatable classic
I've read the book before, watched the film many times (and have a copy of it on DVD) but I never tire of it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by GDD
5.0 out of 5 stars welll written by an auther who know's his subject
recommend to anyone who enjoys sea stories.Or ex navy personel N Monsarrat certainly makes his book easly readable only
problem is u cannot put it down
Published 2 months ago by D.N.Yates
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