Bitter Ocean: The Battle of the Atlantic, 1939–1945

David Fairbank White, Author . Simon & Schuster $26 (350p) ISBN 978-0-7432-2929-6

This superior history of the longest-running battle of WWII by White (a former New York Times reporter and author of the novel True Bearing ) opens with winter on the North Atlantic and Adm. Karl Dönitz's U-boats hunting Allied merchant ships. The question was whether Britain could be starved into surrender or at least made incapable of launching offensives. Against the Royal Navy, with its American and Canadian allies, were pitted the "wolfpacks" of submarines that decimated whole convoys and sank merchant ships faster than the Allies could build them. In the end, Allied training, code breaking, long-range aircraft, escort carriers and the sheer output of American shipyards turned the tide. Along with the overview, White provides excellent focused passages, such as the ordeal of the tanker San Demetrio, as well as portraits of individual combatants—the colorful British destroyer expert Donald Macintyre and the superbly professional U-boat captain Otto Kretschmer. A better starting place for the general reader to begin learning about this epic portion of WWII would be hard to imagine, and one that gives the British their well-deserved lion's share of the credit for victory has not been written lately. 16 pages of photos, maps. (May 8)

Reviewed on: 03/27/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-7432-8910-8
Paperback - 350 pages - 978-0-7432-2930-2
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