GENTLEMEN OF WAR: The Amazing Story of Commander Karl von MÃœller and the S.M.S. Emden by Dan Van der Vat

GENTLEMEN OF WAR: The Amazing Story of Commander Karl von MÃœller and the S.M.S. Emden

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A crisp, exacting account--the fullest and most reliable in English--of one of his. tory's legendary naval exploits: the German light cruiser Emden's lone raids, in 1914, on British shipping and installations in the Indian Ocean. . . and the further exploits of its fugitive, never-say-die crew. Van der Vat, a British journalist and naval historian, has gone back to the archives, to the Kaiser's own pencilings-in. He balances the Emden's reputation for ""punctilious chivalry"" (per the book's title) with reference to the showing of false colors at Penang harbor--noting that, until then, Captain MÜller could afford to stick to the rules. (""Now there was a danger of somebody. . .shooting back."") The situation, as carefully and awesomely spelled out: once the Emden was detached from Graf Spee's Pacific Squadron (which went on to South American exploits of its own), it was alone in enemy-dominated waters; inferior to any British, French, Japanese, or Russian warship it might meet; and without a coal supply--which had to be seized or procured from German merchant ships. In the three months before ""the inevitable superior enemy"" overtook it, the Emden accounted altogether for £5 million worth of shipping losses--also tying up 78 warships from four navies, causing panic and embarrassment, scoring an anti-German-atrocity propaganda coup. That, however, is only half the story. When the Emden went down, 50 officers and men were ashore, destroying a British cable station. They commandeered a leaky schooner, led the Allied navies another futile chase, transferred to a firetrap German collier, fetched up in Arabia, fought treachery and brigands to reach Turkish haven--eh route to Germany. (Van der Vat adroitly pegs relentless first officer MÜche as a proto-Nazi.) Erstwhile merchant-captain Julius Lauterbach, another Emden-ite at loose, made his way home too--in various disguises, via the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines, across the US and the Atlantic. . . sending nose-thumbing postcards to those he'd outfoxed. Outrageous adventures, striking detail, sober retrospection: for any degree of naval buff.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1984
Publisher: Morrow