At All Costs: How a Crippled Ship and Two American Merchant Mariners Turned the Tide of World War II

Sam Moses, Author Random House (NY) $25.95 (335p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6318-5
With verve and empathy, author and former Navy Seaman Moses gives WWII's Operation Pedestal, ""the most heavily defended and heavily attacked naval convoy in history,"" its first book-length treatment since Peter Smith's 1970 volume Pedestal, drawing on more than two years of his own research and 40-plus hours of new interviews with veterans of the mission. By mid-1942, the vital island base at Malta was under siege by Axis forces and almost exhausted of resources, leaving its inhabitants to starve in hiding. The British response was Operation Pedestal: almost 50 warships escorting 14 merchantmen on a do-or-die resupply mission beneath skies ruled by Hitler's Luftwaffe and through a gantlet of torpedo boats, submarines and minefields. Key to the operation was the SS Ohio, a tanker carrying over 12,000 tons of fuel oil, diesel, and kerosene. The Ohio was paralyzed after taking seven direct bomb and torpedo hits, and her dead weight kept breaking towlines. Under order, her crew abandoned ship, but two American sailors, their own ship sunk, volunteered to man the Ohio's guns and give the Royal Navy another chance to bring the Ohio in under tow. Merchant Mariners Francis Dales and Frederick Larsen kept the dive-bombers off balance as other volunteers fought to keep the tanker afloat and the tows intact. ""The wording was to bring the Ohio in at all costs,"" Larson said later, and the remarkable heroism that won the day, as well as Moses' thorough retelling, makes this an exciting, imperative read for anyone interested in WWII.
Reviewed on: 11/06/2006
Release date: 11/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
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Paperback - 335 pages - 978-0-345-47674-6
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