Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters, 1939-1942

Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters, 1939-1942

by Clay Blair Jr.

"His monumental work...is the most thorough study of the U-boat campaign available."--Library JournalHitler's U-boat War is an epic sea story about the most arduous and prolonged naval battle in history.

For decades, an authoritative and definitive history of the Battle of the Atlantic could not be attempted, since London and Washington agreed to withhold all official code-breaking and U-boat records in order to safeguard the secrets of code breaking in the postwar years.

Clay Blair, acclaimed author of the bestselling naval classic Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan, has drawn from the official records as well as the work of German, British, American, and Canadian naval scholars.

The result is this magnificent and monumental work, crammed with vivid and dramatic scenes of naval actions and dispassionate but startling new revelations, interpretations, and conclusions about all aspects of the Battle of the Atlantic.

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 4.11
  • Pages: 864
  • Publish Date: June 6th 2000 by Modern Library
  • Isbn10: 0679640320
  • Isbn13: 9780679640325

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Here the author takes a different line than most of the popular histories of the War. King, while possibly and Anglophobe, isn't against everything that the British suggest. The author points out there were a number of reasons why the Germans were able to gain so much ground on the American coast early in the war, many of them quite legitimate and more a matter of concern than lack. The US too had its issues of cooperation between services, a lack of ships necessary for the job to be done, as well as commitments that spread what ships were available in a wide range of areas and tasks that were thought to be a priority over convoys on the American coasts, some of these were in support of British Naval operations and some were in regards to the US involvement in the Pacific. The author doesn't overlook mistakes or miscues on the side of the US in regards to their efforts against U-boats, but he tries to mitigate some of the worst of the charges against Admiral King and the US Naval high command.

This book is an excellent history of German U-boat activities during the first part of WWII, but excellent history doesn't always result in enjoyable reading. Blair's purpose in writing the book, as I recall, was to support his thesis that the nature of the U-boat menace in WWII--particularly the much-vaunted "wolf packs"--were less effective than has been commonly portrayed in histories of the era. In addition to the evidence provided by hard data records, Blair also proves his point by taking the reader on what must be every U-boat cruise during this early period of the war. Resailing on December 11, U-573 passed through the strait on December 18." There are, of course, many more exciting and truly tragic accounts, but I choose this passage to show Blair's incredible attention to historic detail that makes this a 700-page book, not including appendices. For those of us who are fascinated by this era and the U-boat war, there is plenty of good reading in Blair's book. The 1939 - 1942 period is the most interesting era for the reader, taking him up through what U-boat men called the "Happy Time", when the hunting was good.

The three Skua pilots saw a black object (the dinghy) and attacked it with bombs, some of which rattled U-30. Looking on in amazement, Adolph Schmidt and his assistant on Fanad Head swam out and rescued both British pilots, one of whom was badly burned. Although one plane was overhead, Lemp surfaced to recover Schmidt, his assistantand the two British pilotsand to cut loose the dinghy. During the recovery, the surviving aircraft raked U-30 with machine-gun fire, wounding Schmidt, who was helping the injured British pilot get below. While U-30s medic attended to Schmidt and the British pilots, Lemp set up and fired four bow torpedoes at Fanad Head. One destroyer went in search of the Fanad Head crew, the other two huntedand foundU-30.

Not an easy book to read, but very interesting if you like submarine lore.

This book is a slog...so lot of data, the author goes almost boat by boat and sinking by sinking.

"His monumental work...is the most thorough study of the U-boat campaign available." --"Library Journal" Hitler's U-boat War is an epic sea story about the most arduous and prolonged naval battle in history.

After reading "Silent Victory" by Clay Blair, I was interested in seeing what his take on the war against the German U-Boats would be. So if you've read previous histories of the U-Boat campaign, especially some of the German ones,be prepared to be told they were flawed!

Clay Blair, Jr. was an American historian, best known for his books on military history. Blair wrote two dozen history books and hundreds of magazine articles that reached a popular audience. Blair also wrote extensively on the submarine war of World War II, notably in the bestselling Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan (1975), considered the definitive work on the Pacific submarine war.