THE ATLANTIC CAMPAIGN: World War II's Great Struggle at Sea by Dan van der Vat

THE ATLANTIC CAMPAIGN: World War II's Great Struggle at Sea

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An exacting account of WW II's long, costly, and decisive Atlantic Ocean battle, which the Allies came perilously close to losing. Drawing on British, Canadian, German, and US archives, Guardian correspondent van der Vat sets the stage for his chronological narrative with an extended reprise of key events leading up to the hell-and-high-water campaign. Among other developments, he covers the success achieved by German subs against Allied shipping throughout WW I and Nazi rearmament programs between the wars. While Kriegsmarine commanders felt ill-equipped to take on England when Hitler invaded Poland, U-boats gave impressive accounts of themselves during the conflict's initial stages. Indeed, despite escorted convoys, evasion tactics, and countermeasures, UK supply lines remained in mortal danger until early 1943. The tide finally turned, van der Vat recounts, when airborne radar effectively foreclosed the ocean as either a haven or hunting ground for German submarines. Once the sea lanes had been made relatively safe from raiders, Anglo-American forces capitalized on their increasing superiority in manpower as well as matÉriel to search out and destroy so-called milch-cows that permitted U-boat flotillas to remain on combat patrols for protracted periods. The Atlantic campaign, which van der Vat characterizes as ""a story of waste on a numbing scale,"" took a fearsome toll on both sides. In the Atlantic alone, over 2,800 Allied and neutral merchant vessels were sent to watery graves. No one knows the human cost, but more than 100,000 British sailors lost their lives during the war, and U-boat crews suffered a fatal casualty rate exceeding 60%. A vivid and harrowing log of a pivotal chapter in naval history. The always engrossing text includes 32 pages of photographs (not seen), plus a wealth of helpful maps and charts.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1988
Publisher: Harper & Row