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Turning the Tide: How a Small Band of Allied Sailors Defeated the U-boats and Won the Battle of the Atlantic Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 26, 2011

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Turning the Tide: How a Small Band of Allied Sailors Defeated the U-boats and Won the Battle of the Atlantic + The Burning Shore: How Hitler’s U-Boats Brought World War II to America
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (April 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 046501397X
  • ASIN: B005OHT59Q
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 5.9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #365,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Sherry Sontag, co-author Blind Man’s Bluff
“Through the eyes of their prey, Ed Offley tells the constant terror of German hunter-killer wolf packs going after ships and their military escorts. To win, the allies needed just to survive, to carry desperately needed supplies to Europe. The miracle is these ships do far more. They turn the tide and pummel their tormentors in a moment of history that makes one hell of a story.”

David Poyer, author of Ghosting and The Crisis
“What’s left to add to the oft-told tale of the Battle of the Atlantic?  Ed Offley manages to invest the story of the convoys with renewed drama.  Buttressed with statistics and details of tactics and ordnance, Turning the Tide is worth a place on the shelf with the best maritime nonfiction.”
Michael Gannon, author of Operation Drumbeat and Black May
“In this volume the author has selected a series of stories that both explicate and dramatize the most fateful months of the Allied-German battle for control of the North Atlantic in World War II. I am confident that the reader will find, as I did, his stories to be both engagingly written and compelling in effect.”
Carl LaVO, author of Back from the DeepSlade Cutter, and The Galloping Ghost
“Long before there was D-Day, there was D-Day in the North Atlantic Ocean for England.  In Turning the Tide, Ed Offley delivers the definitive bible of how the Allies in March and May of 1943 turned defeat into victory against an armada of German U-boats determined to strangle resupply lines to England. The book delivers high suspense on the storm-tossed North Atlantic by taking readers inside the U-boats and the Allied convoys as well as American, English and German high commands racing for technological advantage at sea.  In the end, Offley’s masterful account not only probes what gave each side an edge but reveals the bravado it took for a rather small group of Allied and German sailors to fight to the death in one of history’s great naval struggles.”
Marc Milner, University of New Brunswick, author of North Atlantic Run and The Battle of the Atlantic
“Offley tackles a complex and difficult campaign spanning months across a vast ocean and involving a myriad of actors, and turns it into a compelling piece of writing.  In a field where the outcomes of battles are often treated as mere statistics—of tonnages sunk or shipping safely escorted—or as evidence of the impact of technology, Offley’s Atlantic tale is full of people wrestling with the sea, the enemy and their fate.  In the end, Turning the Tide captures the human dimension of the crisis of the Atlantic War in the spring of 1943 in a way no one has for nearly forty years.  And it is a welcome reminder that the Atlantic war lay at the heart of Allied victory in World War II.”
“Offley meticulously re-creates the terrifying U-boat assaults during this pivotal spring…and explains how the Allies turned the tide of the years-long battle…. An intensely focused account that cuts through the battle’s sprawl and duration, supplying the general reader with an appreciation of its character and importance.”
Publishers Weekly
“The author focuses on individual combatants, from the lowest ranks to the highest, emphasizing the human elements and making for an extremely readable text that should appeal to neophytes as well as professionals.”
Library Journal
“This is an account of the crucial convoy battles of March to May 1943 that saw Allied naval escorts and air power finally subdue the deadly Kriegsmarine subs. Offley…shows how the battle was very much a mind game, each side trying to outfox the other. The author’s emphasis is on the harrowing experiences of the men on both sides.”
“This sound, readable WWII naval history focuses on a crucial period of the Battle of the Atlantic, one Offley argues was the turning point in the campaign…. Equally strong in writing, research, and backgrounding, this is a fine addition to material on the epic Battle of the Atlantic.”
Navy News (London)
Turning the Tide…is good narrative history which gives the reader a flavour of what it was like to fight in the Battle of the Atlantic at its climax. It was a struggle of unremitting strain and terror for friend and foe alike.”
Panama City News Herald
“Ed Offley’s new book Turning the Tide is a story few know in the history of World War II. The cat-and-mouse tale played out in the book in dark seas, during treacherous storms has first-hand accounts told by those [who] saw the battles up close and personal with real life-and-death consequences.”
“[A]s Ed Offley shows in this detailed and compelling book, a combination of technology and tactics enabled the Allies to turn the tide in the longest and most deadly naval battles ever fought…. He brings his naval expertise to bear in describing each side’s actions and perspectives during those pivotal encounters. Moreover, he does a masterful job of detailing the horrors of battle as brave men fought each other with fire and steel and also fought the ferocious and frigid waves in which many of them drowned.”
Virginia Gazette
“[An] excellent new book…. Offley describes in clear and wonderful detail how the Allies did it…. [His] writing is superb, and his research in the text and in the appendices are clear and to the point.”
The American Spectator
Turning the Tide is a dramatic contribution to understanding of a long-running and geographically huge confrontation that may have mattered more to the outcome of World War II than more commented-on campaigns…. As important and engaging as the sweep and generalities of the largest naval campaign in history are, the bulk of this book, and Offley’s signal contribution, is his first-hand, blow-by-blow descriptions of some of the deadliest and most game-changing encounters of the Atlantic war…. Offley skillfully blends history and statistics and analysis as well as heart-pounding narratives of sea-battles that have the immediacy of a good novel, only they tell of real people and real events. Turning the Tide…belongs on the bookshelves of professional historians or of general readers attempting to understand a central campaign in the most horrific war in human history.”
“[A] thorough and scrupulous operational history…. Turning the Tide ably sketches in the background and then sends the reader out on board two convoys in March 1943…. Offley recounts the struggle of ONS5 meticulously. We follow each merchant vessel and each U-boat and understand what they are up to; but we also get a sense of what it must have been like for the submariner in his dank little world and the watchman on his sleet-flailed bridge…. [A] valuable book.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“When we think of World War II, we tend to think of two theaters of war: the European continent and North Africa, and the Pacific…. Far less attention has been paid to a third theater, the brutally cold, gale-slashed North Atlantic, where the British and American navies struggled against German U-boats to protect the supply lifeline that made the eventual Allied victory in Europe possible. Ed Offley’s well researched, tautly written account does its part to even the scales.”
Washington Times
“Ed Offley presents us with masterly military writing…. Offley, in careful detail that shows his knowledge of the subject, tells how Allied strategists and tacticians devised ways of leveling the playing field.” 

Florida Times-Union
“Offley’s story…has all the guts and glory of the best World War II novels. Here, the heroes are real in this most important battle…. From the admirals to the ordinary seamen, Offley gives us the whole story, but he also manages to capture the intimate danger of pushing a small ship through treacherous seas while someone is shooting at you.”

Open Letters Monthly
“[A] great historical account…[a] disturbing, fantastic new book…. Offley has sifted through a towering heap of official records, read a library’s worth of histories, even interviewed surviving U-boat sailors. He’s brought all that formidable research together, crafted it with a very considerable degree of narrative skill, and produced a volume worthy to stand with Gunter Hessler’s The U-Boat War in the Atlantic: 1939-1945 or Clay Blair’s magnificent 2-volume Hitler’s U-Boat War. In passage after passage, he brings the submarine experience – Allied and Axis alike – vividly to life…. Offley is keenly attuned to the give and take of the Battle of the Atlantic…and he’s adept at painting quick portraits of determination – and bravery – on both sides of that batt...

About the Author

Ed Offley has been a military reporting specialist since 1981. He has worked for five separate newspapers and online publications. A graduate of the University of Virginia, Offley served in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam. He and his wife, Karen, live in Panama City Beach, Florida.

More About the Author

Ed Offley has been a military reporting specialist since 1981 for newspapers and online publications. In addition to The Burning Shore: How Hitler's U-boats Brought World War II to America, he is the author of Scorpion Down: Sunk by the Soviets, Buried by the Pentagon - the Untold Story of the USS Scorpion, and Turning the Tide: How a Small Band of Allied Sailors Defeated the U-boats and Won the Battle of the Atlantic. A 1969 graduate of the University of Virginia, Offley served aboard the USS Midway including a Vietnam deployment. He lives in Panama City Beach, Florida with his wife, Karen Conrad.

Customer Reviews

This book is very good and very entertaining.
Mr. Offley has over-achieved in this very well written book.
A good read that kept me on my Kindle every evening.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By RSProds TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Five COMPELLING Stars! A sweeping, very detailed, often action-packed portrait by author Ed Offley of the Battle of the Atlantic, describing activities within the five phases of the "longest and deadliest naval conflict in world history" stretching from 1939 to 1945: the "crucial naval battle of the Second World War." Along the way, he places the battle into historical context and gives a detailed picture of the treacherous Atlantic ocean routes, made all the more dangerous because of the weather. The book describes crucial battle encounters between the Allies and the Axis forces on the high seas and in coastal waters as U-boat 'wolf packs' pursued Allies' vital supply convoys across the Atlantic ocean. The author looks at both the strategic and tactical points of view, using diagrams and photographs. The book's opening engagement between the HMS Hersperus on 12 May 1943, hunting the trailing Nazi U-boat, U-223, which was stalking the 24 merchant ships of SC (Slow Convoy) 129 is mesmerizing and just a foretaste of what is to follow, such as the carnage of The Battle of St. Patrick's Day, with its heroes and its fainthearted. The book is loaded with detail on the ships and subs, their weaponry, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing forces, with input from crew member's postwar interviews. Superbly researched and well written with great attention to detail, linking the Battle of the Atlantic to the land and air wars and the political climate of the time, "Turning the Tide" gets my Highest Recommendation. Five HISTORICAL Stars! (This review is based on a Kindle download, in text-to-speech, Mac2, and iPhone platforms. 14 Chapters with numerous pictures and diagrams; Epilogue; Appendices of critical convoy ships, U-boats, and Escort warships; bibliography; and a very helpful glossary of acronyms and unique terminology.)
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Dick_Wynne on May 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
At only 18 my father Deane was a stoker/trimmer on one of the many cargo vessels lost to U-boats in the action covered by this book; his recollections, along with those of many other participants, help to give it a real sense of immediacy. It's fair to say that but for this family connection I would probably not have come across 'Turning the Tide', but I found it hard to put down. The details and frustrations of convoy management, the tactics and experiences of the U-boat crews, the desperate need for air cover, the on-shore politics, the crucial role of communications and code-breaking, and the staggering statistics of loss on both sides, are all well-described in a compelling read which leaves me in awe of the events described, and of the author's task of researching and recounting them.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Observer on December 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a compelling and moving account of the last months of the Battle of the Atlantic. Offley does a marvellous job of bringing to life the tension, horror and bravery of those on both sides who fought in this terrifying part of WWII.
The first half of the book deals principally with the fate of two convoys: HX229, a 40 ship eastbound "fast" Atlantic convoy, and SC122, a 52 ship eastbound "slow" Atlantic convoy. The casualty rates for these two convoys were staggering (HX229 lost 13 ships and SC122 lost 9 ships; the Axis lost one U-boat). If that same rate had continued then the Battle of Atlantic would surely have been lost and Britain would have been forced to seek terms. A key part of Offley's tale is the hour by hour, day by day, attack by attack detailed recounting of what happened to the merchant ships, escorts and u-boats. It is a fine and terrifying piece of writing.
The second half of the book tells the equally harrowing but ultimately victorious story of escort group B7 and its shepherding of westbound convoy ONS5, a 45 ship convoy largely in ballast and SC130, a 37 ship "slow" eastbound convoy. The Allied losses for ONS5 were again steep with 13 ships and 62,000 tons lost. However, the new tactics and the escort commanders leadership led to the sinking of 8 u-boats with a further 7 seriously damaged. SC130 fared much, much better with zero losses against 4 u-boat sunk and 1 damaged.
This turnaround was due to a host of inter-related factors. Inter service rivalries over the use of long range specially equipped bombers were finally ended which allowed for a dramatic extension of air cover for the Atlantic crossing. The size of the escort groups were increased enabling them to adopt more aggressive tactics and to go over to the attack.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read a fair amount of naval history of WWII, an interest of mine, and looked forward to reading this book. I came away mostly impressed, but somewhat disappointed. If you only read one book on this all-important battle, this would be a good candidate.

===The Good Stuff===

* The book is a nice history of the battle, and touches on many aspects of its strategic and tactical importance. Offley touches on the importance of supplying both civilian and military Britain with supplies, the inter-service rivalries that affected the resources available, U-Boat tactics and limitations, convoy strategies, and the technical and personal aspects of the battle.

* The story is not a happy one, either for U-Boat crews or Allied merchantmen. The casualty rates of the U-Boat crews were about the highest of any theater in the war, and the merchantmen and their escorts suffered as well. Offley doesn't shy away from the harsher aspects of the war-namely ships being forced to choose between stopping to rescue survivors (and risk further attacks), or steaming past survivors in the water.

* Offley does an excellent job of describing individual battles between U-boats and Allied convoy escorts. He does an excellent job of capturing the technical aspects of the battle as well as the actions of the individual commanders and crews. The harsh conditions and terror these men dealt with comes across quite clearly.

===The Not-So-Good Stuff===

* While Offley writes well, he is prone to long paragraphs. I find these to be tiring to read, especially on a Kindle.

* While the book is well-researched, Offley seems to get a little carried away with detail. Some of the minutia could easily have been skipped or moved to an appendix.
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