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The Battle of Denmark Strait: A Critical Analysis of the Bismarck’s Singular Triumph Kindle Edition
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This 300+ page work does not focus on the Battle of the Denmark Strait alone, for no work this size could do so without multiple repetition. What it does is set the scene leading up to the battle and offer an alternative viewpoint on the course the German squadron followed throughout the battle. For this, the author's technical and military background is tested to the full through a minute, almost freeze-frame, examination of a dozen photographs and a battle film.
From these, he proffers a thesis that is not universally accepted but which adds to the debate - without a shadow of a doubt. Winklareth has shown courage and determination in bringing his findings to a wider audience. The truth as to what exactly happened on Sat. 24 May 1941 in the cold seas off Iceland may never be fully known. However, this work adds value to the body of knowledge we already possess.
The text is well written with but very few errors. As well as many photographs of the protagonists, it is enhanced by the author's own simple but effective drawings, maps and illustrations. One fault, at least in the mind of this reviewer, is a tendency to over-elaborate the technical specifications of every ship and aircraft involved, even remotely, in the hunt for the Bismarck. Equally, it may be churlish to carp a little at excessive detail when cutting corners would be a much more serious failing. Winklareth cannot be censured in that regard.
The author's credentials as an expert in this field are validated by his sharing with us his knowledge of how the fatal torpedo hit on Bismarck of 26 May was delivered. His findings trumped those of other experts in this field and demonstrate that he is to be taken seriously as a credible and knowledgeable author: not bad for an 'amateur!' All in all, a very entertaining and informative read.
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The problems start with the misleading nature of the title. While the book likely does contain more details on the action of May 24, 1941 than any other book, it also devotes far too many pages to information that is of little or no relevance to the battle. A more accurate title might be, "Another Account of the Bismarck Chase, with Details of the Denmark Strait Encounter, and Many Other Facts of Marginal Interest."
Do we really need details about the build-up of the German fleet under the Kaisers, dating back even before World War I? And, why include information about the exploding British battle cruisers at Jutland if you are not going to carefully examine those details and how they may or may not relate to the demise of HMS Hood? (Here it would be worth noting that some battle cruisers at Jutland withstood tremendous damage, while others were vanishing almost instantly. So does fault belong to the mere notion of the battle cruiser, or poor management of ammunition and powder, or extremely bad luck?) After World War I the book drags on with details about the fall and rise of the German Navy. One does not purchase a book about the Battle of the Denmark Strait in hopes of reading construction details of German or British destroyers, light cruisers and pocket-battleships.
Winklareth's presentation of irrelevant details does not stop with the lead-up to the battle. We must follow the Bismarck on her doomed voyage, read of Prinz Eugen's fruitless expedition, and wrap up with the sad fate of ships such as KGV which went to the scrap yard.
The author begins the book by proclaiming the Battle of the Denmark Strait to be, "one of the most famous and most important naval battles of World War II." And later adds, "The Battle of the Denmark Strait is perhaps the most documented event in naval history." Perhaps this is hyperbole or perhaps the author firmly believes it. The battle is certainly one of the most dramatic engagements of World War II. And here I believe the author misses the mark by failing to include some of the personal details and dialog available to truly paint the picture of this notable action.
The Battle of the Denmark Strait, the men and the ships involved, certainly deserve study and our greatest respect. Winklareth presents an accurate account of the facts, but the facts lose their impact when too many of them crowd the central picture.
I liked how this author showed the results of many decisions made by everyone.
the pictures and drawings are very decent. Many i had not seen before.
Since this book has been done after Ballard found the Bismark and the Hood was located.
the author incorporated what Ballard found at the Bismark and what the others found at the Hood.
this has changed what everyone had thought had happened.
the followup to what happened to other ships involved was rather good and enlightening.
In all, a good read was to what happened in the Denmark Strait so long ago.