3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A gripping account,
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This review is from: Battle of the River Plate: A Grand Delusion (Hardcover)
This is a detailed and fascinating account not only of the battle itself, in which the German commerce raider Admiral Graf Spee was critically damaged by a squadron of British cruisers at the start of WW2, but of the events leading up to it. The text is clearly presented and embellished very pleasingly with line drawings of the various ships involved. Less pleasing, to my taste, is the intrusion of heavily emphasised biographic panels that might have been better placed in an appendix. There is a small but interesting collection of photographs, and helpful maps of the raider's cruise. It is perhaps pedantic to complain of sloppy syntax and the odd conspicuous misprint.
The "grand delusion" of the subtitle is apparently the notion that modern warfare could continue to be waged in the chivalrous manner displayed by the German Captain Langsdorff in his dealings with the crews of ships he was required by circumstances to sink. This is exemplified in particular by the extraordinary empathy developed between him and one of his captive merchant captains, although it was only an extreme example of the high regard in which he was generally held by his prisoners. A minor delusion may have been of the special threat to shipping posed by pocket-battleship raiders: as his own supply ship's commander noted, Langsdorff's overall tally, with his magnificent ship and thousand-plus crew, could have been matched by forty men in a submarine.
Despite minor faults, this book is heartily recommended.