"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. For a period of nearly six years, the German U-boat force attempted to blockade and isolate the British Isles in hopes of forcing the British out of the war, thereby thwarting both the Allied strategic air assault on German cities and Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Occupied France. Fortunately for the Allies, the U-boat force failed to achieve either of these objectives, but in the attempt they sank 2,800 Allied merchant ships, while the Allies sank nearly 800 U-boats. On both sides, tens of thousands of sailors perished.
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. The accounts that did appear were incomplete and full of false conclusions and errors of fact, often leaving the entirely wrong impression that the German U-boats came within a whisker of defeating the Allies, a myth that is finally laid to rest in this account.
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. Never before has Hitler's U-boat war been chronicled with such authority, fidelity, objectivity, and detail. 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.
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A former infantryman, Adolf Hitler had little use for the German navy, which he considered inept and politically suspect. Still, through the skillful maneuverings of a young, up-and-coming naval officer named Karl Dönitz, Hitler eventually endorsed a costly program of shipbuilding. As a result, Dönitz was able to field a vast fleet of U-boats when Germany went to war against France and England in 1939. Although his enemies were initially better equipped, Dönitz was the craftier fighter, launching daring raids on shipping convoys and Allied harbors, and for a time, controlling the chief Atlantic sealanes.
In this monumental history, Clay Blair analyzes the German U-boat campaigns from 1939 to 1942 (a companion volume continues his narrative to 1945), which, he writes, fall into three phases: one against England alone, another against the newly arrived American navy, and a furious third against the combined Allied forces. Blair argues, against other historians, that the "U-boat peril" has been overestimated. He holds that the American submarine campaign against Japan in the Pacific was far more effective, and observes that 99 percent of Allied merchant ships on transatlantic convoys reached their destinations. Even so, the U-boats introduced a powerful element of terror into an already horrific war, diverting Allied effort into antisubmarine campaigns and delaying the transport of much-needed materiel.
Blair's outstanding work adds much to the naval history of World War II. Packed with detail, it is sure to become a standard work on the Battle of the Atlantic. --Gregory McNameeFrom the Back Cover:
"Military history of a surpassingly high order, which...could become the standard reference on U-boats."
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