- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing (June 3, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781628737271
- ISBN-13: 978-1628737271
- ASIN: 1628737271
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,022,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Grey Wolves: The U-Boat War 19391945 Hardcover – June 3, 2014
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WITH A CRUISE THAT LASTED LONGER THAN A MONTH WITHOUT A BATH THEY ATE LIKE KINGS FOR THE FIRST PART BUT HAD SCRAPS AND WHAT WAS CANNED FOR THE LAST PART. IT WAS POSSIBLE FOR SOME CREW MEMBERS NEVER TO SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY FOR THE WHOLE CRUISE. IF YOU WERE STANDING WHEN YOU READ THE FIRST COUPLE PAGES YOU MAY FIND YOURSELF STILL STANDING ON THE LAST PAGE. WALLY
Of the 39,000 German men to serve on U-boats, 27,491 died and 5000 became prisoners of war. (p. 7). Life for those serving on the "Grey Wolves" of the ocean, nicknamed "steal coffins", was miserably hot, cramped, humid, smelly, dirty...just plain awful.
Submarines were often said to be the pearls of the German fleet. Even during WWI the Kaiser particularly loved his submarines. Kaplan covers German submarine history concisely, also providing a brief discussion on the sinking of the Lusitania.
Kaplan highlights that some historians believe that WWII German U-boats nearly sealed the fate of Europe by rabidly attacking Ally convoys of supplies. In packs, much like wolves stalking prey, the U-boats would bear down on convoys, taking out several (sometimes all) ships in the vicinity. Civilian, merchant, and neutral ships (including US ships before entering the war) were stalked and attacked across the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Baltic, and North Seas.
In addition to explaining the naval tactics used by the WWII German U-boat fleet, and the Allied response to the U-boats, Kaplan also does a stellar job recounting life on the submarines, both on German U-boats and on their U.S. equivalents. Kaplan uses a large amount of first-hand stories, including official documents and private journals and letters of those who served on U-boats, giving the reader an intimate view inside the dank submarines.
Kaplan's coverage of the merchant navy and marines of Britain, Canada, and the United States stupendously gives a voice to these forces of brave sailors who quite literally fueled the Allies, including the Russian (Eastern) front, Britain, and Mainland Europe. Like "sitting ducks," these merchant ships carried critically needed supplies, but were almost defenseless against German U-boats. These courageous men ensured that critical weapons, ammunition, vehicles, fuel, and other provisions made it where they were needed most, regardless of the danger brought on by the lurking Grey Wolves.
As the number of encounters with German U-boats increased, the Allies learned tactics to overcome the submarines, turning the once safe depths of the ocean into a deadly trap for the Germans. Depth charges, particularly those dropped on both sides of the haul of the U-boat (anchor maneuver), proved deadly, as were convoys of merchant and naval ships. Aircraft (when possible) and scouting ships discovered the lurking U-boats, helping to coordinate attacks on the U-boats. The lessons learned in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and North Seas would prove particularly usefully in the Pacific, where the Japanese also possessed lethal submarines.
I am giving Kaplan's Grey Wolves: The U-Boat War 1939-1945 4.5 out of 5 stars because of its compelling prose, and its inside look into the lives of those who served and often died on the German U-boats. Furthermore, Grey Wolves gives a much-needed voice to the thousands of merchant marines/navy of several Allies of WWII. Grey Wolves will not disappoint those interested in a quick read about WWII submarine and naval warfare and tactics, as well as a compelling glimpse into the lives of the merchant marines of WWII.
WWII, U-boat, Submarine, Submarine Warfare, Germany, Military History, Military Tactics, Naval Tactics, Naval History, German Prisoners of War, Merchant Navy, Merchant Marines, Atlantic Battles, North Sea Battles, Mediterranean Battles
Badly written, badly edited, full of WHOLE PAGES of quotes taken straight from other books (like James Goodson's "Tumult in the
Clouds", and an absurd combat report reproduction of an American B-17 crew claiming to have shot down EIGHT Fock WUlfs in one sortie...), full of technical errors.
The book seems like a rushed job to get a fast cash, writing about a famous topic of WW II.
It does not serve even as an introduction to the theme.
Avoid it like the plague.