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A Measureless Peril: America in the Fight for the Atlantic, the Longest Battle of World War IIby Richard Snow
Synopses & Reviews
Of all the threats that faced his country in World War II, Winston Churchill said, just one really scared him—what he called the "measureless peril" of the German U-boat campaign.
In that global conflagration, only one battle—the struggle for the Atlantic—lasted from the very first hours of the conflict to its final day. Hitler knew that victory depended on controlling the sea-lanes where American food and fuel and weapons flowed to the Allies. At the start, U-boats patrolled a few miles off the eastern seaboard, savagely attacking scores of defenseless passenger ships and merchant vessels while hastily converted American cabin cruisers and fishing boats vainly tried to stop them. Before long, though, the United States was ramping up what would be the greatest production of naval vessels the world had ever known.
Then the battle became a thrilling cat-and-mouse game between the quickly built U.S. warships and the ever-more cunning and lethal U-boats. The historian Richard Snow captures all the drama of the merciless contest at every level, from the doomed sailors on an American freighter defying a German cruiser, to the amazing Allied attempts to break the German naval codes, to Winston Churchill pressing Franklin Roosevelt to join the war months before Pearl Harbor (and FDRs shrewd attempts to fight the battle alongside Britain while still appearing to keep out of it).
Inspired by the collection of letters that his father sent his mother from the destroyer escort he served aboard, Snow brings to life the longest continuous battle in modern times.
With its vibrant prose and fast-paced action, A Measureless Peril is an immensely satisfying account that belongs on the small shelf of the finest histories ever written about World War II.
"Former American Heritage editor-in-chief Snow brings long experience to this graphic account of the Battle of the Atlantic. He seasons it heavily with the letters of his father, who was an officer on one of the U.S. destroyer escorts vital to the U-boat offensive's final defeat. Snow quickly, colorfully, and accurately sets the stage: the construction and employment of Nazi Germany's formidable submarine force; the heroically improvised British and Canadian response; the fine line Franklin Roosevelt treaded in supporting Britain without committing America directly to war. Even after Pearl Harbor, it took time for a U.S. Navy previously indifferent to antisubmarine warfare to develop an effective doctrine and an industry that would construct the ships to implement it. Twenty-seven hundred 'Liberty ships' put to sea faster than the U-boats could sink them. Four hundred destroyer escorts, 'built out of spare parts, by amateurs,' crewed and commanded by other amateurs, protected the Liberties and hunted the subs. Snow ably uses his father's letters to reconstruct Atlantic duty in the final years of a vital battle for Allied victory." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Snow has transformed the faraway and half-forgotten world of the Atlantic convoys into a narrative as touching and exciting as it is melancholy and memorable. Few better accounts have ever been crafted about this cruelest of wars, fought for year after year on the most imperturbably cruel of the world's great oceans.--Simon Winchester.
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History and Social Science » Military » US Military » General