Battle of the Atlantic - Can anyone recommend a book?

Discussion in 'The Book Club' started by Boldnotold, Nov 24, 2010.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Boldnotold

    Boldnotold LE Book Reviewer

    My Bro-in-Law has asked for a book on the subject of the Battle of the Atlantic for his Christmas Present. I've read a few, but they tend to have concentrated on a particular convoy, or the submarine war, or other specific topic.

    Can anyone recommend a book that gives an 'overview'?

    Many thanks
  2. Auld-Yin

    Auld-Yin LE Reviewer Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    I know it is fiction, but The Cruel Sea is a great book, covering the whole of the Battle of the Atlantic period, albeit from one ship's viewpoint. Well, two ships, but the main characters remain.

    You have probably found this but here is a website dedicated to the BotA/ Battle of the Atlantic Bookstore
  3. Too be honest, their isnt really one id call gives a good overview besides one by Andrew Williams, ive over 40 books on different convoys and recollections of Merchant ships and seamen, all which are good but on their specific convoys.

    So id say give Williams book to him, along with say Middlebrooks
  4. Boldnotold

    Boldnotold LE Book Reviewer

    Thanks, Guys. I hadn't found that bookstore, and I hadn't thought about 'The Cruel Sea', which is a great book.

    Looks like it's the Williams book for Christmas and another for his birthday which follows soon afterwards.
  5. Get the book the The Cruel Sea retold, its about the 3 convoys Monsarrat was on, and used in his book the cruel sea.
  6. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    If you can get it, 'Business in Great Waters: U-boat Wars, 1916-45' by John Terraine is a good book.

    Slightly more unusual: 'Defeat of the Enemy Attack on Shipping' (edited Eric Grove) is a reprint of the Royal Navy's original staff study on the Battle of the Atlantic.

    I'd recommend either.

  7. Battle of the Atlantic is a big subject. The Andrew Williams book is an OK general history, but the real devil is in the detail. I quite liked Black May by Michael Gannon, that is a good account of the turning point of the battle in 1943.
  8. Yankee RN Covers the war from a volunteers perspective, the illustrations are grim.

    Nicholas Monserrat wrote these books

    Three Corvettes (1945 and 1953)
    H M Frigate (1946)
    H.M.S. Marlborough Will Enter Harbour (1949)

    Buy your brother in Law both the novel and Dvd of The Cruel Sea he will thank you for it.
  9. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    'The Cruel Sea' is absolutely the tops for this. It is also a sort of war memorial to the people who fought the longest battle in the history of war, and gained a victory so esential that without it we should have starved. The other Monsarrat stories are quite short and were published and republished at different times in different packages. JPW Mallalieu's 'Very Ordinary Seaman' also has much to commend it.

    As to an overview, that is going to be difficult as there are so many strands to it - the types of ship, the weather, radar, air support, and all manner of innovations such as centimetric radar, escort carriers, ahead-throwing weapons, a revolution in ship building methods in the US, ULTRA, etc etc etc and the story needs a retrospective on the earlier development of ASDIC and depth charges. To say nothing of how we found and trained the necessary people to do four-on, four-off (if they were lucky), knackered, soaked, frozen and in almost continuous motion for weeks on end.
  10. Boldnotold

    Boldnotold LE Book Reviewer

    I have the DVD of The Cruel Sea, and have to agree with you!
  11. Boldnotold

    Boldnotold LE Book Reviewer

    My late Uncle had some interesting stories about life on the Arctic Convoys, delivering goods to Russia, and being made welcome in Norway when all was over over there. He was a quiet man, and it's hard to believe the conditions he endured.
  12. For a more academic read, Clay Blair's pair of monumental books about the Battle of The Atlantic: "Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters 1939-1942 (Volume 1)" and "Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted 1942-45 (Volume 2)" are well worth investigating.
  13. I would recommend "Iron Coffins" by Herbert Werner, a U-Boot captain. Admittedly its just the submarine aspect, but it covers WWII from beginning to the end and give a view from the other side.
  14. Boldnotold

    Boldnotold LE Book Reviewer

    Looks like I'll be buying him a library! Thanks for all the advice, and I've noted a few for my own reading too.
  15. A late thought, have you asked the same question on Rum Ration? Some of their members were probably involved in the Battle of the Atlantic!