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Bloodstained Sea
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2004
The Bloodstained Sea is a book for three kinds of people: those who know (or think they know) about the Battle of the North Atlantic, those who don't, and those who were there. The readers in the first two categories (I fall into the first) are in for an eye-opening ride on rough seas. I thought I knew. I was mistaken. Those unfamiliar with this part of our history will find a fast-paced story of heroic actions that could be fiction. But it isn't. I do remember tar and oil on the beaches but I never knew how bloody it was. Now I do.

These men battled U-boat wolf packs hunting through the convoys. They also endured bone-chilling cold and mind-numbing fatigue and this went on day after day and week after week with little respite. Only the brave and the selfless can do this.

Mr. Walling has done a superb job of telling their story. Extensive research using original sources such as ships' logs, interviews with veterans of the action, and his Coast Guard experience add to the authenticity of this book.

For the third group, those who were there, Bloodstained Sea is a well-deserved, long-overdue tribute to their gallantry. While we can only marvel at such dedication to duty, they can read it and say, "Yes, that's how it was."

This is a five-star book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2004
This is an exciting, entertaining and informative book. The story of the U.S. Coast Guard in World War II deserves to be remembered and Mr. Walling tells it in a historically accurate, but vivid and enthralling manner. Thoroughly documented and backed with extensive primary source research and interviews, "Bloodstained Sea" demonstrates that the WW2 veterans of the Coast Guard should be ranked high in America's pantheon of heroes. Everyone interested in military or maritime history should own this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2004
When the courageous warriors of WWII are named, those of the Coast Guard who protected the vital life line convoys across the North Atlantic stand among the foremost, and this wonderful book gives them their long overdue tribute. Author Walling spent 17 years of exhaustive and productive research to interview those who fought both the Germans and mother nature in a no-holds-barred struggle of gigantic proportions, a contest in which the losers faced death in a number of horrible ways. The Coast Guard and its seven 327 foot Secretary Class cutters took on the toughest of sea and combat conditions alongside the navies of our allies against the toughest and most determined of Hitler's many weapons, the submarine. The author has given a very human face to the horrors these antagonists faced as oil tankers blew up, vessels broke apart in heavy seas, sometimes without the slightest warning, and brave young men risked their lives to rescue the mariners from flimsy boats and rafts while dodging enemy torpedoes. The grim realities of this kind of warfare, never glamorous, but absolutely essential in the grand scheme of the Allied effort to defeat a determined enemy, come alive though the stories of those who were there and survived. The ships themselves become central figures in this drama and their toughness and efficiency are matched only by that of their valiant crews as they face uncertainty and danger. Six appendixes provide excellent background on Coast Guard vessels and history to help the reader understand the infrastructure prior to and in support of the war effort. This book stands as the definitive work on what the Coast Guard achieved when called to serve and is an absolute "must read" for all those interested in the Battle of the Atlantic.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 19, 2006
Every author that attempts to undertake a project to write a portion of the history of the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II has to pick a specific area to focus on - some focus on the U-Boats, some on the merchant ships, other on the tactics. Michael Walling has chosen to explore a different area than any others I've seen - the US Coast Guard involvement in the battle, with a particular focus on the Secretary Class of the Coast Guard Cutters.

The Secretary class boats were 327 foot long cutters that could run at high speeds and handle the terrible weather prevalent in the North Atlantic, thus making them ideal for escort & sub-hunting duty. Walling focuses on just a handful of ships in his tale, but does so quite nicely.

Naturally, when covering a topic such as an entire theatre of war, many other players partake in the story, and Walling most assuredly has not ignored any of the critical players, including the merchant vessels that the Cutters were escorting, the U-Boats that they were hunting, or (most importantly) the people that they were rescuing.

In my opinion, Walling spends perhaps a little too much time on the weather aspects of the battle, though this certainly made for fascinating reading, since many authors almost completely ignore this facet of this theater of war. Overall, however, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would say that it is an exciting, well researched, engaging tome covering the topic. I would recommend this book, in conjunction with some others, to any reader looking for a comprehensive story - this is a nice piece, it needed to be told, and is a solid addition to the literature on the topic.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2006
This is the fascinating and not well known tale of the US Coast Guard in the Battle of the Atlantic during WWII. My father served as a gunner on convoy escort duty in Spring 1945 and I never really understood the dangers of this type of work until I read this book. They were sinking U-boats off the East Coast right up until the surrender in May 1945!

The best parts of this book were the actual stories of the coastguardsmen themselves. The most difficult part was reading through the course of the many battles as described in the skippers' after action reports.

All in all, I have now a greater respect for what the the USCG did in WWII and what it continues to do today in the Global War on Terror.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2005
This is an absolutely excellent tale of the Coast Guardsmen who manned the cutters in the battle of the Atlantic. Focuses primarily on the 7 Secretary Class cutters but tell some on all that served in the Atlantic. His narrative is sprinkled with input of many survivors. Those words make it real. You feel the wet, tired and cold that they do and the fear and numbness of war in the convoys. A great read. As a Coast Guardsman who has sailed those waters and still can only imagine what they went through, I highly recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Aside from the fact that my father served in the Coast Guard
during WWII, it's refreshing to finally read a book devoted
entirely to the Coast Guard regarding a specific part of the war.

Eisenhower himself stated; "Andrew Higgins was the man who won
the war for us." And it's a fact, Coast Guardsmen specialized in
the handling of these 'small boats'. But the Coast Guard during WWII,
should also be remembered for many other acts of bravery,
sacrifice and courage. In vivid detail, using eye witness accounts,
and numerous historical documents, Michael Walling brings out for us,
stories of amazing fortitude and endurance as these men were faced
with death each and every day on the high seas.

As a WWII researcher and filmmaker, I am well familiar with the
work required to create an accurate story. Mike Walling puts new
meaning to the effort needed to 'get it right'

I thank you Michael for reaching many of these men who have since
passed on.

Michael Fraticelli
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2007
Bloodstained Sea was a pleasure to read, my Dad served on the USCGC Campbell during WWII so this book was special to me. Unfortunately, he passed away at an early age allowing him and me no time to discuss his Coast Guard service. This book has given me the opportunity to understand some of the hardships those men endured.

If history interests you at all this is a must read. The rescues, tragedies and determination of these men are brought to life with the author's detail.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2010
Who says that hell has to be hot? I was hooked on this dynamic history book from the first paragraph. If I didn't know that it was true I would swear it was fiction. The depth of Mike Walling's research is truly amazing. I am a former Coast Guardsman and I have more than a few North Atlantic weather patrols under my belt. I remember, like it was yesterday, the call for all hands to lay up on deck to beat the ice off of the rigging to keep our ship from capsizing. Absent the sinking of merchant ships by U-Boats it was an experience that I'll never forget. Walling captures that experience to a T. I put the book down and close my eyes and I can see the dead seamen just floating along back lighted by patches of oil burning on the surface. I quickly open my eyes, shiver involuntarily, and thank God that I am not really where Walling had placed me with his word pictures only moments before. The book is alive with incredible tales of survival of the brutalities of war and adverse weather as told to Walling by the men who lived to tell the tale. My copy is now dogeared and has annotations scribbled in the margins; I've read it at least three times and I discover something new with each reading. This is a classic historical work befitting the sailors who endured it. I wish that I had told this story; but then I don't think I would have done it as well.

Jim Gilliam
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2011
An excellent review of what the Coast Guard did in WWII. Sometimes we forget how much the smaller service did to try and save lives and still have to go to battle with the enemy. (LCDj, U.S. Coast Guard Retired).
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