H.M.S. ULYSSES by Alistair MacLean
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H.M.S. ULYSSES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In fiction form, this is the story of the Murmansk run -- and of the attempt to get convoy , FF77, through, under the inadequate protection of a few cruisers, most of them outmod. The Ulysses had been a lucky ship, fast, equipped with radar, with a captain who was worshipped by his crew. But Captain Vallery and his officers and men had taken more than humans should be asked to take- and when mutiny was in the making, it seemed to all Justifiable. Rear-Admiral Tyndall felt it so -- and the chief surgeon, Brooks, did not hesitate to speak his mind. But the home office was adamant -- and the Lysses was on its way once more. From that moment on, it was unadulterated hell. The weather turned vicious; the temperature dropped to an unbelievably low figure; and the German wolf pack made the most of every opportunity. One ship after another of the convoy was sacrificed; Vallery was forced into decisions that tore him apart; disease took its toll- with Vallery himself its ultimate victim; madness, too, stalked the decks and Tyndall's sanity cracked. Men performed deeds far beyond the call of duty; and those who fell short of greatness paid the price. The clearing weather brought out the bombers- and more ships were sent to the bottom. And still the shrinking convoy went on towards the goal. Nichols, Junior medic, was transferred by breeches buoy to another ship in need -- and so Nichols alone survived to tell the story of the death of a great fighter, as the Ulysses made the supreme sacrifice in an effort to take final payment. It is an unbearable story, completely unrelieved in its stark and bitter march of death and destruction. Supremely well done- but can the reading public take it? MacLean is English. Much of the lingo is perhaps too British for some readers, in the same sense that Monsarrat's H.M.S. Corvette proved too British. But the human factors here outwright the difficulties and may carry the reader through.

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 1955
Publisher: Doubleday