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Hitler's Secret Pirate Fleet: The Deadliest Ships of World War II Paperback – May 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (May 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803266529
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803266520
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #928,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Provides a concise, but surprisingly comprehensive account of the raider’s operations, setting them within the larger context of war by means of clever short side-bars…An interesting book for anyone interested in the war at sea.”—The NYMAS Review
(The NYMAS Review)

“This book is not for pirate fans per se, but for those who want to see how others took the tactics pirates used and implemented them during a war. Those interested in World War II naval operations will also want to read these accounts. Each chapter includes a map showing the location of where prizes were taken and short sidebars that relate events elsewhere.”—Cindy Vallar, Pirates and Privateers
(Cindy Vallar Pirates and Privateers)

About the Author

James P. Duffy is a writer and lecturer. His previous books include Target America: Hitler’s Plan to Attack the United States.

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Customer Reviews

A very good book for any one interested in naval history.
Mayo M
On the plus side, the book flows very well and is written at a level that should satisfy both specialist and general readers.
R. A Forczyk
Duffy, the author, indicates that he relied as much on that book for his 'sources' as he did on anything else.
peter robertson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By frank joseph on October 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Even well-informed students of the Second World War are largely unfamiliar with one of its most dramatic and deadly phenomeon, the Kriegesmarine's auxiliary cruisers disguised as Allied or neural merchantmen. James P. Duffy's account of these rogue
vessels is a comprehensive, yet thoroughly narrated history of the "Q-Boats", as they were known to British Intelligence. The most successful raider of its kind was the "Pinguin". In less than a year at sea, she sank 16 enemy freighters, capturing another 16. The "Thor" sent 18 ships to the bottom, making another four captive. But the Germans could also fight it out with capital ships if occasion demanded. In November, 1941, the
Kormoran fought a duel to the death with the Australian light cruiser Sydney, which went down with no survivors. Nine German raiders roamed the oceans of the world, and before all but two of them were eventually lost in action, they destroyed more than a million tons of Allied shipping. Duffy's detailed research brings all these remarkable ships, their dauntless crews, and perilous engagements back to life, thereby making an important contribution to better understanding of the war at sea. His work is unquestionably one of the best books about World War Two in recent years.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ned Middleton TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
They were nine ordinary freighters armed with torpedo tubes, 5.9in guns and anti-aircraft guns - all of which were concealed from view. With the ability to change their own ship's profile and, therefore, their own apparent identity, these nine were Germany's secret commerce raiders of the high seas during WW2. They were pirates in the true and historic sense of the word and were even more successful than Germany's best U-Boats. Imagine a disguised freighter with guns hidden behind false panels able to sink an Australian Cruiser with far greater fire power - using nothing more than sheer guile, surprise, and expert gunnery. To this day, the remains of HMAS Sydney has not been found.

"Hitler's Secret Pirate Fleet" is a hard back book measuring 9½" x 6¼" containing 200 pages of fascinating information about those nine ships - all of which have a compelling story to tell. Commencing with the "Atlantis" - the secret name given to the Goldenfels upon her conversion for such war duties, the author commences the story of this ship at the end - with an exciting and very readable account of her loss at the hands of HMS Devonshire. In so doing he has skilfully hooked the reader into wanting to know more and, just as soon as the Atlantis disappears beneath the waves, we are treated to her story - right from her launch. It really is fascinating stuff.

Covering the; Atlantis, Orion, Widder, Thor, Pinguin, Komet, Kormoran, Michel and Stier - in that order, the author reveals the war time exploits of these vessels in great detail and retains his readable style of writing throughout. A few map outlines dotted throughout the book help to convey a feeling of where the relevant actions took place.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Until picking up this rather sensationally titled book, I'd never heard of the German naval scheme during WWII to arm some old freighters and turn them into camouflaged"commerce raiders." preying on unsuspecting Allied and neutral cargo ships. It's a fairly interesting story in Duffy's hands-at least for a while. Ship by ship, he takes the reader through the operational history of each of Germany's nine raiders, apparently relying on three earlier histories of the German raiders and a slew of first hand accounts by those who served on them. It's one of the book's weaknesses that Duffy eschews footnotes in favor of a general bibliographical essay at the end, leaving readers to wade through the primary material themselves if so inclined. While there are some fascinating stories to be told (the sinking of the Australian light cruiser Sydney, the capture of prime Allied intelligence on the Pacific, two name two examples), the chapters tend to run together in their blow-by-blow detailing of each ship captured or sunk, it's cargo, tonnage, number of survivors, etc. Still, it's worth dipping into by anyone interested in the history of WWII, or naval history in general.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Frank Stech on January 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From 1940 to 1943 nine German surface raiders (Atlantis, Orion, Widder, Thor, Pinguin, Komet, Kormoran, Michel, and Stier) effectively used deception against both merchantmen and warships. These disguised auxiliary cruisers sank or captured 140 ships (including the cruiser HMAS Sydney), totaling over one million tons, and greatly disrupted British and American shipping in the South Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Duffy's "Hitler's Secret Pirate Fleet: The Deadliest Ships of World War II" is well titled; the German raiders were far more lethal than the average U-boat and about half as effective as Germany's top twenty U-boats and best submarine aces.
The German raiders were well armed: all carried half a dozen 5.9 inch guns, 1-2 seaplanes, 5-8 anti-aircraft guns, torpedo tubes, and mines. Deceptive tactics were standard procedure: false flags, deceptive signals, radio jamming (to smother warning and distress broadcasts), stealthy stalking, smoke and false fires, crewmen dressed as women pushing baby carriages. Every week or two the raiders would alter their identities; Atlantis could successfully imitate 26 other vessels. The raiders stayed at sea for months (Atlantis for 622 days, five of the nine for over a year; in contrast a long U-boat deployment was 200 days), rendezvousing with supply ships and tanker U-boats, and sending prize crews and prisoners to Axis ports on captured ships.
Early Allied mistakes aided the raiders. Since raiders jammed the distress calls of their victims, the British Admiralty instructed all merchantmen hearing a distress call being jammed to send their own position and the bearing to the jammed transmission. This located all the merchantmen in a raider's vicinity.
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