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Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted: 1942-1945 Hardcover – November 17, 1998
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This mammoth book concludes the two-volume set that began with The Hunters, 1939-1942. If the first installment charted the rise of the U-boat, this one describes its downfall as the United States became fully engaged in the Second World War. A careful scholar, Blair never overstates the impact the U-boats played on the war's final outcome, even though they sank roughly 3,000 ships. He is, above all, comprehensive. Rather than a breezy overview, this book describes, spread out over nearly 900 pages (including 20 appendices!), almost every U-boat action in the second half of the war. Some readers will find this level of detail exhausting, but others will revel in it, and The Hunted is sure to be regarded as a standard in its field. --John J. Miller
"A triumph of naval history-writing." --The Times (London)
"An admirable and important book.... Should become the standard history of
the Unterseeboote for many years."
--Russell F. Weigley, The Washington Post --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Blair's style is simple, straight-forward, and repetitive: the books recount nearly every single U-Boat patrol, every single U-Boat sinking, every single convoy attack, and every single U-Boat success. The chapters are organized logically with sections on patrols in the North Atlantic, patrols to the Americas, patrols to the Arctic, patrols to the Mediterranean, and patrols to far-flung theaters (the South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and Asia). Blair also does a very good job placing the U-Boat battle into proper context of the larger naval war and overall war by giving brief synopses of the bigger picture of the fighting in Europe and, where appropriate, the U-Boat reactions to the campaigns.
Blair also gives detailed accounts of the "cipher war," describing in technical detail how the Ultra machines worked to decode Enigma transmissions and how the Germans were ignorant that their transmissions were being read by the Allies. He also fills each book with charts, appendices, and copious amounts of raw data detailing every U-Boat loss, monthly shipping losses, and many other illuminating aspects of the campaign.
Although primarily a narrative, Blair does include some analysis. Most interestingly, Blair argues that most historians of World War II greatly overstate the threat that the U-Boats posed and concludes that at no point during the war did the U-Boats come close to being the decisive weapon many claim. Blair also defends Admiral King's decisions and the overall U.S. effort early in the war against many who argue that the U.S. was caught flat-footed and unprepared and failed to take simple measures such as convoying or blacking out the East Coast, resulting in huge shipping losses off the East Coast in 1942.
Also, while writing two volumes that cover every almost every aspect of the U-Boat war, Blair does not do a very good job describing the tactics and capabilities of the U-Boats and the escorts. While describing the campaign at the operational level, he never gives the reader a good picture of the tactical capabilities of the U-Boats or their equipment and weapons, or of the men who crewed them on the almost-suicide missions.
Blair has written an incredibly detailed and well-researched account of the U-Boat war. These books would serve anyone interested in a detailed, blow-by-blow, patrol-by-patrol account of the U-Boat war, and they would serve well as a resource for someone studying this campaign. However, these books are too detailed for most readers.