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4.7 out of 5 stars36
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 16 July 2002
This book was an eye-opener for me. The background detail on the building and shaping of the U-boat arm was fascinating, demonstrating what a model of good leadership and strategy it was. I found the descriptions of the survivors very moving; the horror of floating in the middle of an ocean in a small lifeboat is something that had not occurred to me before. Apart from the human testimony (always interesting), the book is a gripping tale of desperation and triumph on both sides, which was hard to put down. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot about a campaign which has had much less visibility than the land war.
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The book gives an overview of the Battle of the Atlantic from 1939 to its height in 1941-42, plus the slowly emerging Allied victory in 1943-44. It mixes the stratgic overview with personal views from sailors, propaganda men and Navy people, from lower ranks to admirals. Technical developments are treated briefly, as much as they have bearing on the battle itself.

My opinion: based mostly on existing research, but with added personal interviews with participants, this is an excellent introduction overview of the Battle of the Atlantic. Of course 300 pages is on the short side for the longest-running battle of the war, but that just makes it a good introduction, and there is interesting material for people who have read more about it, too. From the densely packed life on a U-boat to the hectic life on an escort in Mid-Atlantic, from the pens of Lorient to the Admiral at Liverpool to the survivor adrift on a raft, this covers a lot in its pages! For further reading I'd recommend Middlebrook's Convoy (on the climactic battle around SC122 and HX229), or the Costello and Blair books cited in the references. 4 1/2 stars!
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on 5 April 2014
Having seen and read other peoples comments on this book based on true stories of the second world war, I wasn't disappointed and I found it very gripping reading of what the sailors and seamen had to go through as well as all the dangers of sailing in ships with little or no protection ,in running the gauntlet bringing food and supplies to England and to which
to which these brave seamen put their lives on the line bringing food and materials to Britain,
and sadly many of these brave seamen never survived to see the end on the second world war.

this book is a real insight to seamen and sailors ,and of conditions and dangers that they faced on a daily basis, at that time,
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on 20 March 2007
This is better than the TV series, which was itself very good. 'Battle of the Atlantic' covers the history and the evolution of technology and tactics used by both sides in the convoy war in the Atlantic. Personal accounts are used to add detail and realism but not at the expense of the wider picture. I particularly liked the inclusion of diagrams explaining convoy formations.

I had purchased this initially because it was very reasonably priced, with few expectations. To my delight it turned out to be very well written and entertaining. I have not read other books on the subject, but do read a lot of history books and I would be surprised to learn if any of the others were as good as this.
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on 14 March 2012
I genuinely loved reading this book. It covers so many disparate parts of the whole battle and manages to weave them together to make one very readable tapestry.

The technical aspects are dealt with through the right amount of detail without becoming too specialist and the human stories back this up very well.

The sheer horror of actually doing the fighting will shock a few of the readers as will the numbers involved - firstly the sinking of merchantmen and latterly the massacre of the U-boats that took place. The numbers are a genuine eye-opener.

It's also the simple aspects that I like, for instance, how hard can it be to cook a meal on a Corvette on escort duty? The testimony is there to give you the answer.

This is a good book, no doubt.
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on 22 October 2015
I can't really remember how i came across this book, but when I started to read it, i just could not put it down!
It tells the story of one of the longest and most bitter campaigns of WW2. The story of German Admiral Karl Dönitz, his U-Boat arm and his quest to starve fighting United Kingdom into submission. It follows all the main facts chronologically from the sinking of the SS Athenia right till the end of the campaign, focusing mainly on the U-boats operations.
What Andrew Williams perfectly does, is finding the balance between personal stories and larger picture. Thanks to that, we can look at quite a few facts from different perspective, as he tries to tell the story "as it was", not taking any side. He criticises, when deserved, all parties. Not only Dönitz but also the King and Churchill.
It can be an eye-opener for many people. It is an extremely well written and documented book. It is a book I would recommend to anyone interested in the battle of Atlantic, battle to keep UK fighting.
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on 19 December 2012
The book gave an insight into the problems faced not only by the ships but also the Admiralty in trying to minimise the dangers faced they faced. Didn't realise the German Navy was breaking the British Codes while we were breaking theirs.
A well presented and doccumented story of the time.
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on 23 May 2013
I had read plenty of books about WW2 but little about the war at sea, so I picked up this book. I think this was a good choice because it provides a great overview of the battle of the Atlantic, during the first half of the war. The war at sea is often overlooked but it is actually the closest Germany came to winning in the West before America entered the war. Most of the book focuses on u-boat operations, as this was the most strategically important part of the war at sea. The book is well documented but, at the same time, the non-expert reader won't get lost in technicalities. Highly readable and good personal descriptions of the key commanders that fought this battle.
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on 13 March 2013
I have yet to find a more complete and absorbing history of the Battle of the Atlantic, and I cannot praise it too highly. If there is a shadow of a doubt, and this is purely personal, at times I found the description of individual U-boat tactics so detailed that they tended to overshadow the main story, and I would have liked more explanation of how the British and the Germans managed to break into each other's secret codes.
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on 28 June 2013
For someone how only knew about ww2 mainly through films and a little bit of history at school this was an education. The one fact that stood out for me was that subs only attacked with torpedo's while on the surface, not like the movies at all. Unbelievable number of lives lost on both sides and the tonnage of ships and cargo was something I never would have known about only for this book.
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