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The Battle Of The Atlantic: The Allies' Submarine Fight Against Hitler's Gray Wolves of the Sea Paperback – 25 Feb 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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  • The Battle Of The Atlantic: The Allies' Submarine Fight Against Hitler's Gray Wolves of the Sea
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; New Ed edition (25 Feb. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465091563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465091560
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.1 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 541,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Excellent" (Sunday Express) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Andrew Williams is a writer and producer for the BBC. He has produced such internationally acclaimed programs as "A Journey Home," a documentary on the famine in Somalia, as well as the Emmy-nominated "War Crime: Five Days in Hell," an investigation into war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, and "Provos: The IRA and Sinn Fein." He lives in London.


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 16 July 2002
Format: Hardcover
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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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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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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This book was written to accompany the BBC television series of the same title. As might be expected from a TV series, it contains a good many anecdotes from people who were involved in the campaign, both British and German, and is a balanced account of their experiences.

Williams also describes the tactics and training of the two sides, especially the ineffective tactics of the escorts at the beginning of the war and the very effective tactics which were developed later, aided by significant advances in technology such as radar and High-Frequency Direction-Finding. He contrasts the over-simple organisation by which Donitz ran the U-boats with the highly developed Western Approaches Command run by Admirals Noble and Horton.

The book concentrates entirely on the Atlantic U-boat campaign; very little is said about German surface warships and merchant raiders, or about the Arctic convoys or U-boats in the Mediterranean and elsewhere.

The book is a good read and gives a satisfactory overview of this campaign, the longest of the war, lasting from 3 September 1939 to VE Day, and the one that Britain had to win or be reduced to starvation and to be forced into making peace with Germany.

The paperback edition is made from Forest Stewardship Council certified paper, which is laudable, but the reproduction of photographs on this paper is pretty awful; hence only four stars.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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