Hitler'S U-Boat War: The Hunted: 1942-1945

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The first volume of Clay Blair's magisterial, highly praised narrative history of the German submarine war against Allied shipping in World War II, The Hunters, 1939-1942, described the Battle of the Atlantic waged first against the British Empire and then against the Americas. This second and concluding volume, The Hunted, 1942-1945, covers the period when the fortunes of the German Navy were completely reversed, and it suffered perhaps the most devastating defeat of any of the German forces.

In unprecedented detail and drawing on sources never used before, Clay Blair continues the dramatic and authoritative story of the failures and fortunes of the German U-boat campaign against the United States and Great Britain. All the major patrols and sorties made by the Germans are described in detail and with considerable human interest: the Peleus and Laconia affairs; the capture at sea of U-505; the crisis of German command; the futile operations against the Americas; and the mounting and devastating losses that, in effect, entirely destroyed the German submarine service.

Amid the riveting accounts of battles at sea in Volume I, military historian Blair, who served on an American submarine in the Pacific against Japan, postulates that the German U-boat peril in the Atlantic has been vastly overblown in previously published histories and memoirs of that naval struggle, as well as in films. As a consequence, Blair writes, a false mythology about the effectiveness of U-boats has taken root, and in order to clearly and fully understand World War II, one must put the U-boat threat into proper perspective.

Although neither volume is intended to be technical in nature, Blair does not neglect the scientific developments of the U-boat war. These include radar and radar detectors, active and passive sonar, Axis encoding machines and exotic Allied decoding machines, high-frequency direction finding (Huff Duff), Hedgehogs, depth charges, and sophisticated U-boat torpedoes. He describes how these devices worked and how they influenced the course of the naval battle.

The remarkable story of Hitler's U-Boat War has been one of the last World War II subjects without a conclusive treatment. Now, thanks to Clay Blair, this has been brilliantly remedied.

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