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Twelve Desperate Miles: The Epic World War II Voyage of the SS Contessa [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Tim Brady , Joe Barrett

RRP: 21.20
Price: 18.15 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Hardcover 15.93  
Paperback 8.75  
Audio, CD, Audiobook 18.15  

Book Description

11 Dec 2012
The true story of how a rusty New Orleans banana boat staffed with a most unlikely and diverse crew was drafted into service in WWII—and heroically succeeded in setting the stage for Patton's epic invasion of North Africa.

The largest amphibious invasion force ever to cross the Atlantic Ocean set sail from Virginia in November 1942 with the aim of capturing Casablanca and a crucial airfield northeast of the city. Unfortunately, the airfield was located a dozen miles up a twisting Morrocan river, too shallow for any ship in the entire Allied fleet. As the invasion neared, the War Department turned up the Contessa, a salt-caked Honduran-registered civilian freighter that had spent most of her career hauling bananas and honeymooners. 
   This unremarkable ship, crewed by seamen from twenty-six different nations, eighteen sailors pulled from the Norfolk County jail, and a French harbor pilot spirited out of Morroco by OSS agents, became the focus of the opening salvo of World War II. Too late to join the massive convoy sailing for Africa, the Contessa set out on her own through the U-boat-infested waters of the Atlantic to the shores of Morocco, where she faced her most daunting challenge: the twelve-mile voyage up the well-defended Sebou River, carrying an explosive cocktail of airplane fuel and nine hundred tons of bombs in her holds.
   Twelve Desperate Miles is a surprising and entertaining account of one of the great untold stories of the war. 
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  38 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed the journey 23 May 2012
By Hemingway - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am not a World War II buff, so I approached this book cautiously. I was quickly taken in by Tim Brady's masterful storytelling. He had me caught up in the French resistance in Morocco and sympathizing with a central character before I turned the first page. The writing remained crisp and the story taut throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed my journey with the USS Contessa. I heartily recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about this chapter of history--the USA's first engagement in the European theatre during WWII--of simply looking for a good story.
38 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WWII U.S. War in Europe debut; The NOT so Usual Suspects 25 April 2012
By Dr.Charles Dusenbury - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Casablanca was imprinted into the minds of Americans by the memorable Bogart misquote, "Play it again Sam" . Casablanca and the events of America's entry into the war in Europe via Operation Torch in North Africa were largely overlooked by the public until the 1970 movie, "Patton" starring George C. Scott.

Now enter a new, nonfiction book, "Twelve Desperate Miles", titled like a Bogart classic and worthy of the same dramatic "Coming to a theater near you!" previews that used to be shown between the double movie feature and the Warner Brother's cartoon. There is even what amounts to a "Playbill" introduction to the historically famous and not at all famous characters involved in this real-life action thriller.

So be prepared to be shanghaied aboard the improbably crewed banana boat "Contessa" as the armed Atlantic escort departs without her, only to leave her again to solo navigate twelve miles up a defended treacherous African river to deliver munitions and volatile fuel. In between these two events is "Operation Torch", the entire American invasion of western Morocco. Rushed planning, little training and manned almost entirely by individuals with no war experience, the first entry of America in the European theater of WWII was tragic-comic in some ways, yet deadly serious. Thankfully the Vichy French defenders had little love for their government nor its Nazi masters. Don't miss the next exciting episode, with a cast of thousands and an insight into the lives of the few seldom honored.

But you "Must remember this'" and read this engagingly written book of the North African assault episode nearly forgotten "As time goes by."
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Great Story but Poorly Written 11 Aug 2012
By Whyaduc - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I really had high expectations for this book. In my opinion, not enough stories like this have been told about the US experiences in North Africa in 1942-43. The author did a wonderful job of describing the life in NYC and Washington DC during the early stages of the US involvement n WW!!. There are part of this book that are well-written and that captured me. My disappointment in this book is in how the story meanders while the author is striving to set the context for the main topic of the book; the mission of the Contessa. He spends an inordinate amount of time covering the big picture of the early part of the war, which has been very well covered by a multitude of authors.and leaves us short on details about the crew and the mission of the Contessa. The author did a poor job of helping the reader to understand who the crew of the Contessa was. Their names, backgrounds, personalities, quirks, how they interacted. All of this was given very little space in this book. Even the actual mission of 12 desperate miles is described very poorly and takes up very little space in the book. I felt like I had read 80% of introduction and 20% story. The author shows moments of excellent writing skills in this book but he disappoints me greatly in how he put the story together.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twelve Desperate Miles 2 Jun 2012
By Thomas E. Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a compelling historical account of a WWII mission into north Africa by the Allied forces. The book is a real page-turner as the author brings the central characters to life and builds the drama and suspense. It reads like a novel, but it is a serious book of history.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much minutia! 27 Jun 2012
By Ted - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I can appreciate an author who wishes to paint a background as well as the true focus of a work. But this book was filled with far to much minutia. The style of storytelling so discombobulated that there was never a time when I even felt like I was interested in finishing it. In fact I didn't. After skipping around for three evenings trying to find some part interesting enough to read, I finally gave up.
I couldn't care less what some gal was wearing when she bade her husband good-by as he heads out the door on a secret mission. Nor could I care what George Patton had for breakfast.
The real story could have been very interesting. In fact that's what I was expecting after reading the reviews and the introductions on the dust cover.
I'd love to hear the real story. But sorry, it's not in this book.

Ted
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