Most helpful critical review
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2012
This book promises to share the story of a very interesting series of naval engagements during WWI. It delivers something...different. The book is billed as "novelistic history", so rather than scholarly nonfiction, the reader is presented with a text that includes long passages of first person narration by the characters (some of which are fictional hybrids of real people, the author is nice enough to mention this at the END), complete with conversations and internal monologues. However, it is seldom clear which character is narrating in a given a passage; this gives the book the feel of a fractured post-modern novel rather than a book of history.
Much of the dialogue takes place between people who died during the events and as a result are largely conjectural (again the author mentions this at the end). In fact, it appears a large amount of the book is little but conjecture! Because so many of the principal actors died, the author took the liberty of presenting the reader with the dead men's thoughts and ideas as HE assumes them they were. Instead of quoting direct sources he merely supposes. The character of Captain Muller must be extraordinarily prescient as according to his "letter home" in 1917 he predicts the rise of fascist nationalism, the second world war, the arrival of "super weapons" (clearly nuclear weapons) and fears of these weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. The author's approach would probably be excellent for introducing young readers to a subject, but it is very disappointing to the adult reader.
In addition, the writing and proofreading are of low quality. there are numerous uses of the wrong words. I can forgive some malapropisms but this is entirely too much: "Sturdee had just showered and was just shaving with a towel around his waste." (p248). There are far too many more like that in the text. The author also frequently would use the same words over and over in close proximity, I recall a passage towards the middle where the word "successful" is used three times in two lines.
Avoid this book, it is not worth your time.