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H.M.S. Ulysses Paperback – June 7, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

A brilliant, overwhelming piece of descriptive writing. Observer A story of exceptional courage which grips the imagination. Daily Telegraph It deserves an honourable place among 20th-century war books. Daily Mail HMS Ulysses is in the same class as The Cruel Sea. --Evening Standard

A brilliant, overwhelming piece of descriptive writing. --Observer

A story of exceptional courage which grips the imagination. --Daily Telegraph

A brilliant, overwhelming piece of descriptive writing. --Observer

A story of exceptional courage which grips the imagination. --Daily Telegraph --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

The story of men who rose to heroism, and then to something greater, "H.M.S. Ulysses" takes its place alongside "The Caine Mutiny" and "The Cruel Sea" as one of the classic novels of the navy, its men and its ships, at war. It is vintage MacLean -- and unforgettable.
"High-powered dramatics." San Francisco Chronicle --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling; Reprint edition (June 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402790341
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402790348
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #710,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

In my opinion the best book written by Alistair Maclean.
Mike Stevens
Set in the brutal Murmansk Run, this book is an account of the men of a ship marked out from the rest of the Royal Navy by a resistance to discipline.
Paul Sayles
You will not just read it once but many times and you will laugh and cry each time.
Skoota

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Paul Sayles on November 25, 2000
Format: Audio Cassette
MacLean's HMS Ulysses is a classic book of man against man but more importantly, man against the sea. Set in the brutal Murmansk Run, this book is an account of the men of a ship marked out from the rest of the Royal Navy by a resistance to discipline. The crew is rebelling against mindless authority but is still ready to do its duty - along the lines of the great Mutiney of 1797, when ships of the Royal Navy effectively deposed brutal and mindless officers but always maintained that it would up anchor and fight any attackers. The men of Ulysses strike me as linear descendants of the sailors fighting Napoleon's fleet.
There is a great cross section of British society in the officers and men of Ulysses; from aristocratic flag officers to gentleman rankers in the lower rates. Petty tyrants and officers one would gladly follow anywhere. MacLean has included them all and made it work to perfection in his tale.
THe constant theme is not the brutality of war, or men killing each other, but the constant battle with the sea in all its many forms. MacLean's attention to detail gives an almost 'you are there' quality to his writing. The reader feels he is right there on the bow of Ulysses as it gets underway for one more run to Murmansk, to being on the bridge in her ultimate engagement with the German Navy. You can almost feel the bone breaking cold whenever you are placed out on deck. MacLean puts you right in the middle of it.
If any of MacLean's books deserve to be made into movies, this is one that is long overdue.
I found this book to be one that I didn't want to put down. I felt the charecters were all extremely well developed, men that were almost real. I don't know if MacLean was in the Royal Navy during World War II, but reading this book, I certainly get that impression. This is a classic in Naval literature.
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77 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Guy Thompson on December 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I didn't make the Murmansk run, but I have lost shipmates due to inclement weather and cold in the North Atlantic.

I didn't make the Murmansk run, but I have had to abandon ship due to enemy action.

I didn't make the Murmansk run, but I lost friends who did.

I didn't make the Murmansk run, but the author of H.M.S.Ulysses (MacLean 1955) certainly did. And he writes with a sureness and skill that makes me realize again what I knew so well during World War II -- that I was blessed and favored by God in not having made that run.

This is NOT a book for those who cherish the fairy tales of Aubrey. It is strong drink for those raised on the pallid tea of Bolitho and Ramage. It will stretch the sensibilities of followers of Hornblower or Fox. It will bring tears and anguish to those who like me recognize what men can go through, do go through, must go through.

Of all the war stories I have read from The Iliad on this is unequivocally the best Three times I have read it and each time with more pain than joy. I have almost a feeling of duty as if in the reading I am paying tribute to the men who made that run and -- in a sense -- exulting in my having been spared from the same.

There have been reviewers who have suggested that this would make a good movie. To them I say nonsense. There is not a producer with the guts to produce it nor an actor who could convincingly play most of the parts. And I doubt if there is an audience with the stomach to watch it.

I didn't make the Murmansk run, but better men than I did -- and they died there.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Andrew L. Cawston on January 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
MacLean never wrote a better novel than this, his first.
For those who love the sea and yet respect her fearsome savagry, HMS Ulysses satisfies. Brilliant character development, superb technical detail.
HMS Ulysses is a good novel -- more than that, the book pays tribute to both the Royal Navy and the Merchant Marine, and homage in equal measure to all -- German, British, American. It reminds us that brave men sailed the North Atlantic, and that courage knows no boundaries.
The book follows the fortunes of a fighting ship whose crew is slowly self-destructing after months of convoy duty in the North Atlantic. They are offered the prospect of a break in the Mediterranean if they can complete one final convoy to Russia through the murderous North Atlantic, and thereby atone for a mutiny that has left two people dead...
Their voyage -- and ultimate atonement -- tests the mettle of all on board, and challenges the base assumptions we tend to make about the inherant goodness of Humanity. It will leave you pondering how you would have responded under similar circumstances, and perhaps may leave you less than satisfied with what you learn about yourself.
As a tale it compares well with Noel Coward's wartime movie "In Which We Serve". MacLean paints his tale with prosaic pictures that stay in your mind more persistently than any film could. The final image of the HMS Ulysses, with battle ensign flying, stays with you long after you put the book down.
MacLean's book reminds us that things like this happened every day, once. It is a reminder of the gallantry of a generation that is fast disappearing.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Rottenberg's rotten book review on May 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The HMS Ulysses was built for one mission - escorting convoys from Scotland to Murmansk, Russia. Though a novel, "Ulysses" stays to a very specific historical context - the RN's desperate missions to keep Russia supplied during WWII. In this novel, he follows the travails of the Ulysses as it sets forth on a convoy that has every hint of disaster. It's 1943, the tide of the war had turned against the Axis on every front but on the seas. Though devotees of either nautical fiction or WWII novels are actually the last to label WWII as "the good war", even they might be shocked to learn the desperate straits through which MacLean sails his titular ship. The "Murmansk Run" has convoys sailing through waters rife with terror both natural and man-made - horrors to which Ulysses has long become familiar with, yet never immune. Worn down by the arctic storms, by constant attacks from German subs, dive bombers and cruisers, by outbreaks of TB and under constant threat of the mighty Battleship Tirpitz, Ulysses is a ship coming apart at the seams. The only thing holding the crew and ship together is there respect for its young and ailing captain and the desperation of the allied war effort. Their superiors in Admiralty would gladly supply less outdated escorts with more experienced crews, or replace their undersized (and outgunned) escort jeep carriers with fleet aircraft carriers - if that were available (during a deceptively simple dialog early on, officers detail the desperation of their situation, which includes rusty old ships with ripe crews, and escort carriers which would never be confused with the main-fleet monsters). But disintegrate the ship does, under attack by u-boats, Hipper-class cruisers, Condor bombers and the ceaseless assault of the Arctic.Read more ›
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