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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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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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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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As much as I've read about World War II, especially the European Theater, I was not aware that the U.S. Coast Guard came under the control of the U.S. Navy just prior to Pearl Harbor. But even before that, the Coast Guard was working with the Navy on convoy duties and other tasks. Author Michael G. Walling writes vividly of those days when Coast Guard ships were used for convoy duties and other tasks in the North Atlantic, braving sub-freezing weather with blizzards, plus mountainous seas that could capsize a ship in an instant. It was dangerous work, and it wasn't uncommon for the Coast Guard ships to be torpedoed by the U-boats that roamed the North Atlantic through the end of 1943. Through interviews with Coast Guard veterans who lived through those years, the author paints a picture of the harsh duties that the crews of the Coast Guard ships endured.

The book's appendix includes chapters on the Allied convoy system; a copy of a citation for the Coast Guard ship Alexander Hamilton; President Roosevelt's September 11, 1941 fireside chat on maintaining freedom of the seas; the Atlantic Charter, which set forth certain principles in the national policies of the US and the UK; and a glossary of nautical words used in the book.

Bloodstained Sea is a well written book that should appeal to anyone interested in World War II history.
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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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on February 8, 2016
A well researched and written testimonial to the Coast Guard crews escorting convoys across the Atlantic. Their heroism is beyond reproach as they prevented ships from being destroyed by U- Boats or saving the victims.
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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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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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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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on August 18, 2015
Excellent historical review of the USCG in the North Atlantic during WWII. An absolute "eye opener" as to what the Coast Guard is really about.
And realize that the Coast Guard never becomes part of the Navy, it might augment and take direction from, but always retains it's unique identity.
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