HMS Ulysses Paperback – 1 Nov 2004
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‘A brilliant, overwhelming piece of descriptive writing.’
‘A story of exceptional courage which grips the imagination.’
‘It deserves an honourable place among 20th-century war books.’
‘HMS Ulysses is in the same class as The Cruel Sea.’
About the Author
Alistair MacLean, the son of a Scots minister, was brought up in the Scottish Highlands. In 1941 he joined the Royal Navy. After the war he read English at Glasgow University and became a schoolmaster. The two and a half years he spent aboard a wartime cruiser were to give him the background for HMS Ulysses, his remarkably successful first novel, published in 1955. He is now recognized as one of the outstanding popular writers of the 20th century, the author of 29 worldwide bestsellers, many of which have been filmed.
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Top Customer Reviews
I know "HMS Ulysses" almost by heart by now - but whenever I read it, I still do it from cover to cover, without putting it down. Once I begin, I just can't let it go until it's all over.
Seeing as I loathe spoilers in reviews, I shall keep them to a minimum! This book centres around the eponymous HMS Ulysses, a frigate in World War II. This ship is used on the arctic convoy runs to Murmansk, a vital part of the allied war effort sadly largley igonred by the Soviet government after the war. These convoy runs were the worst of the war, featuring not only the Kriegsmarine’s U-Boats, but also sub-zero temperatures, blizzards, and twenty-hour days. Combine all these and you have a good a picture of hell as it is possible to get. The men of the Ulysses think so too, and have mutinied. As the book starts, an Admiral is discussing the failed mutiny and what should be done with the Ulysses. It is decided that, to atone, she should escort one last convoy – FR77 – to Murmansk, then she will be sent to the Mediterranean theatre. The voyage that follows is truly appalling in every sense of the word. In particular, the pathos engendered by Maclean’s descriptions of men having to endure such agony is unspeakable. For me, the most poignant character is Ralston, the torpedo gunner. Without giving away too much, he does something no-one should have to do, and Vallery, the father-figure of the captain, suffers so much in making him do it and then realsiing what he has done to Ralston. It must be read to be fully experinced in all its emotional intensity.
The only comparable book to this is, in my opinion, All Quiet on the Western Front, though HMS Ulysses is far more bitter and gritty. There is a rawness exuded by the book, a sense of despair and loss permeating every line.Read more ›
And for me, it is the only Maclean that has stood up to rereading, over and over again.
Let's hope it will be filmed one day!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent story telling unfortunately only received part of the bookPublished 2 months ago by Eric Vinall
Years since anyone reviewed this book. Although it relates to the 39/45 war it is as relevant as the day in 1955 when it was first published and l first read it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by MALCOLM
From beginning to end the book magnificently provides an honest, brutal description of the suffering both physical and mental endured by the sailors of the Arctic Convoys. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Effenbee