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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2012
Patrick Bishop has written a gripping account of the numerous missions - by air, sea and land - to sink the battleship Tirpitz. Although in many ways this is a boy's own story Bishop underpins his narrative with insight and argument. He contrasts Churchill's obsession with naval warfare to Hitler's partial indifference. The Tirpitz is totemic in representing how air power overtook that of sea power during the 20th century.
As the author rightly points out in his excellent introduction the stories intertwined around the attempts to sink the Tirpitz are filled with courage and folly. He asks questions about strategy and tactics, whilst always having a respect for the ordinary - and extraordinary - men who carried these missions out. Bishop mixes first hand accounts, technical knowledge and good writing to produce the first great book on WWII of the year.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Operation Source, mounted in September 1943 was a daring naval attack on the Bismarck's sister ship Tirpitz holed up in a Norwegian Fjord. Six British miniature submarines (X-Craft) were towed to Norway from Scotland. X-5, 6 & 7 were to attack the Tirpitz, X-8 the Lützow and X-9 & 10 the Scharnhorst. X-8, 9 and 10, however, failed to mount their attacks leaving the Tirpitz as the only target. X-6 and X-7 succeeded in placing their charges below the battleship before both craft had to be abandoned with six of the combined crews of eight men being rescued and taken on board the Tirpitz from where they saw X-5 destroyed at close range. To this day, it not known whether X-5 was retreating after having placed her own charges or was pressing home her attack when sunk. The commanders of X-6 (Donald Cameron) and X-7 (Godfrey Place) both received the Victoria Cross. Henty-Creer, commander of X-5, received only a Mention in Despatches - an award which remains contentious to this day!

Thought still afloat, the Tirpitz was now incapable of going to sea and would have been destroyed had the Germans attempted to tow her all the way back to Germany for repair. In the last stages of the war, she was moved to another location where she was rested on the seabed and used as a static gun battery. As such, she was eventually destroyed by RAF bombers from the Dambuster Squadron. In one RAF museum in the UK, I saw an RAF account of the sinking of this great ship which afforded no credit to those X-Craft whose deeds created a situation whereby the Tirpitz was a sitting target at the time she was finally sunk! But I digress.

In this extensive work by Patrick Bishop, we appear to have a number of additional elements to the entire story of the loss of the Tirpitz which, for many authors, ends with the X-Craft attacks and the immediate aftermath. In this account, however, we have the added intrigue of secret agents and mention of 24 different operations to sink the mighty warship - ranging from the foolhardy to the ridiculous, although all were brave.

The book is well written and quite comprehensive to which the author brings two very clear abilities; Firstly, he has undertaken all the requisite research - essential to a work of this nature. Secondly, he has a most engaging style of writing. All things considered, therefore, I learned a great deal more about a story of which I already knew much.

My problems with the work are, however, twofold; Firstly, the remarkable, outstandingly brave and dramatic events of Operation Source are such that a number of Hollywood movies have been based on the exploits of those X-Craft commanders. To my knowledge, none have been based on the RAF operation which finally sank this battleship. In this work, I was disappointed to find the heroism of success almost entirely laid at the feet of those Aircrews in such a way that one `might' even come away believing Operation Source had been a complete failure!

My second problem concerns the way in which the book is finally produced. 390 pages tightly packed into a paperback measuring 7¾x 5 in. (198 x 128 mm) is a very thick book. With the writing tightly squeezed to the edges of each page, the reader will find themselves struggling at times to read what is written close the book's central crease.

A curious assortment of diagrams and photographs are reproduced on the low-quality paper used for the text in addition a further 32 historic photographs on glossy paper placed together in two sections.

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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2012
Along with Max Hastings and Antony Beevor Patrick Bishop stands head and shoulders above other WWII Military Historians. He writes with economy, sympathy and style. Target Tirpitz is episodic, by the nature of the various and unconnected attempts there were to sink the battleship, but the story flows and the author often returns to certain themes, such as Churchill's zeal to sink the ship - and Hitler's caution in deploying the jewel in the crown of his navy.
As you would expect from the author of Fighter and Bomber Boys Bishop captures the voices of the personnel involved magnificently - their wit, sangfroid, professionalism (but also their grief and frustration). Courage and tragedy fill the pages of this book in equal measure.
Target Tirpitz should appeal to those both interested in the RAF as well as the Royal Navy during the Second World War.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 March 2012
I loved this book, as it really shows what it must have been like, submerged in an X-Craft or bomber, desperately searching to destroy the Tirpitz, the biggest ship left in Hitler's arsenal. The author, normally concentrating on the air war in previous books, has taken to the sea like a duck to water and effortlessly manages to describe life on board ships, subs and torpedo boats. I liked the way the book is arranged, with quite a few chapters documenting what life was like on the Tirpitz itself, before switching to the allies and their attempts to sink the mighty boat. In many ways the book is more a book about the battle against the German surface raiders, than it is just about the Tirpitz, as it contains agreeable voyages into the demise of the Bismarck and Scharnhorst, as well as raids like St Nazaire. In short, a top hole book that manages to show how brave those sailors and airmen were, whether they served in the RAF, the Royal Navy or even the Kriegsmarine.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 May 2013
This is a very good book, telling comprehensively the story of super-battleship "Tirpitz" and her influence on both Battle of Atlantic and the Battle of Russia Convoys, from her launching in April 1939 to her destruction on 12 November 1944.

Author adopted for this book an "extended" view of one ship history, by describing also lots of events which were connected to "Tirpitz" strongly, albeit indirectly: the archifamous sortie of "Bismarck" in 1941, the Great Raid at Saint-Nazaire, the PQ-17 convoy tragedy and the battle of Barents Sea in 1942 as well as the battle of Cape North in 1943. I believe it was a good choice, as it made this book longer and more filled with dramatic events and famous episodes, but still logically coherent and focused on the main topic.

The writing is very pleasant and even if I was already quite familliar with most of the events, it was still a pleasure to rediscover them shown from an original perspective. And I still learned a lot, especially about people who actually served (and for many of them died) on board of "Tirpitz". Two of the air raids by British Fleet Air Arm which targeted "Tirpitz" are also described in great detail and this is a very usful thing, as they are less known than the RAF attacks - the attack on 9 March 1942 by twelve Fairey Albacores from HMS "Victorious" and the operation "Tungsten" on 3 April 1944, which involved no less than six (!) British carriers: HMS "Victorious", HMS "Furious", HMS "Emperor", HMS "Fencer", HMS "Pursuer", HMS "Searcher" and a total of 80 bombers and fighters.

Operation "Source", the most daring and strategically significant operation of midget submarines until now, is extremely well described. Immediately after finishing this book I decided to re-watch "Above us the waves"...

This is an excellent book, worth every penny. I am totally keeping it on the shelf and I recommend it with all my heart. Enjoy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2012
This book is a virtual diary account of the Tirpitz from the cvtime it completed vits sea trials in early 1941 to its sinking in November 1944.
Initially stationed in the Baltic it moved to Norway as a deterrant to possible invasion from Britain.
Subject to continual air and sea attacks the Tirpitz saw little action except at Spitzbergen but its presence immobilisedthe British Home Fleet that had to guard against it.It was finally sunk by 2 squadrons of the RAF.
Very well written with excellent maps and illustrations. Photographs are fair but those printed on text pages are poor.
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on 19 December 2012
For Churchill the sinking of the Tirpitz was an obsession. It was good news for Churchill politically but it served no naval purpose by the time it was achieved.

Patrick Bishop identifies the swan-song of the battleship: aircraft carriers were becoming the dominant naval force. (By 1943 Hitler had decided to scrap his big ships because they were not contributing effectively to the war and were using valuable resources. He was persuaded from doing so because the British forces covering threats from his big ships would then be used elsewhere).

The Tirpitz spent most of the war holed-up in Norwegian fjords. It rarely ventured out because Hitler did not want to see the Tirpitz suffer the same fate as the Bismarck (a hit on its rudder by a torpedo from an antiquated biplane from the aircraft carrier Ark Royal meant the Bismarck could then only turn in circles, and its fate was sealed).

Bishop describes how more than 2000 men on the Tirpitz spent most of the war in relative comfort: three meals a day and plenty of time to relax. In fact one of the problems was boredom at a time when Hitler's armies in Russia were suffering appallingly.

Max Hastings writes in 'Bomber Command': "Many of the greatest feats of precision bombing such as the sinking of the Tirpitz - which would have been a strategic achievement in 1941, 1942, and even 1943 - became no more than marvellous circus-tricks by the time were they achieved in 1944 and 1945". Ludovic Kennedy wrote in his history of the vessel that she "lived an invalid's life and died a cripple's death".

Importantly, this is not to deny the bravery of the men who were involved in the various attempts to sink the Tirpitz.

This Kindle edition has good photographs and useful diagrams which look good on a Kindle Fire HD, though may not do so on a basic Kindle. Strongly recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 6 March 2012
Target Tirpitz: X-Craft, Agents and Dambusters - The Epic Quest to Destroy Hitler's Mightiest Warship Many readers will, like me, be familiar with the invidual incidents described in this book, eg., the hunt for the Bismarck, the Channel Dash, the sinking of the Scharnhorst, the midget subs and the various air attacks, but Mr Bishop draws them all together in a contextual pattern making for an excellent,highly informative read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 9 November 2012
As with other books by the author there is an excellent core of material but,(to me), a frustrating tendency to go off the subject to cover aspects only partially related to the focus of the book. For example whilst knowledge of the Bismarck and the action to sink her is related in the sense of rooting the dangers of battleships in the consciousness of the British, the majority of the first 40 pages are solely relating to Bismarck. By this time I did wonder if I was reading the right book. Throughout there is the same tendency, which whilst interesting if you didn't already know it, it does break the continuity of the story of the efforts to sink Tirpitz. When eventually the tale returns I had forgotten where it had left off. Having said that the X craft saga is excellently told as with some of the air assaults. For me however the most effective part of the book is on the last page when Willie Tait visited the wreck in Sept 1945 and the words he used to describe it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2012
excellent first half of book,and makes one realise just how inconcievably brave these men were.And just how lucky we are that they were willing to give their lives for our generation
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