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Operation Drumbeat: The Dramatic True Story of Germany's First U-Boat Attacks Along the American Coast in World War II Paperback – March, 2009
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Historian Michael Gannon argues that the systematic assault by German submarines on merchant tankers and freighters along the U.S. eastern seaboard in 1942 "constituted a greater strategic setback for the Allied war effort than did the defeat at Pearl Harbor." The case for the claim is intriguing and includes a damaging assessment of the U.S. naval command, which ignored information that might have allowed it to avert the disaster, but Gannon never lets his argument distract from the compelling wartime story. Through original interviews and archival research, he describes the exploits of U-123 and its 28-year-old Lieutenant Commander Reinhard Hardegen, who terrorized American home waters on two separate missions. Operation Drumbeat presents a remarkable picture of life on the U-boats. (Fans of the movie Das Boot especially won't want to miss it.) Gannon's book eventually may become a classic work of naval history; for now it's a great book on a particular aspect of the Second World War. --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Interviews with a U-boat skipper, former German crew members and U.S. and British military personnel help explain why the Allies lost nearly 400 ships to U-boat attacks; evidence suggests that well-informed British intelligence was disregarded by the Anglophobic U.S. chief of naval operations. "The book will be of enormous interest to sub warfare buffs," said PW. Photos.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Beyond these thematic considerations, Operation Drumbeat offers superb insights into daily life and operations of u-boats, and tells a compelling story about U-123. So the human sides of war - predator and prey, victor and victim - are well illustrated, as is the essential inhumanity of submarine warfare, both axis and allied. Also, Not since Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror have I read a history where a specific "biography" was used so effectively to illustrate era and issues. Operation Drumbeat resounds with engaging prose, engaging history, and engaging messages. It's call is well worth answering.
(In fairness, having just read the ebook, I should mention the appalling bad job Harper's did in the ebook version; the numerous mistakes are so common and so obvious that I literally believe no proof reading was ever done. This ranks as one, of if not, the worst ebook translations I've ever read. And in keeping with the terrible quality, the maps and photos are in such low resolution as to be virtually unusable. That I was willing to tolerate these outrageous deficiencies and keep reading speaks volumes about the substance of the book. Shame on you Harpers and Amazon for treating your readers (and the author!) this way.)
The Book is an extremely detailed account of One U-Boat and its huge successes along our coast and the Atlantic. There is much more than that, i.e. voluminous coverage of the voyages, strategy and tactics and details of the mechanical aspects of U-Boat engines, armament, and especially details of individuals even minute actions on board the Staring U-Boat. Unfortunately, there is a lot of redundancy and trivial detail that one must plow through.
Bottom Line: The book is a tremendous source of data on the Submarine and Anti-Submarine conflict along the United States Eastern Coast and the Atlantic U-Boat War. Consequently, I would recommend it to all WWII Navy readers, but be prepared to flip through a lot of trivial detail and redundancy.
The U-Boat wars were an area that I would view, with a lessor focus because I knew very little about the spefics of this segment. Most of the books concentrated on dull statistics.
Operation Drumbeat has changed all of that. By following the action of one U-Boat - U-123 - we have been presented with a more human, day-to-day experience of the actions and challenges faced by Germany's undersea service.
I never looked beyond the Atlantic action, since those along the American coast were usually presented as an unimportant side issue. Operation Drumbeat reveals the great importance of this action. The European war could have been lost there, through the stunning stupidity of men like Admiral King.
I would recommend this book to anyone with even the faintest interest in the U-Boat war since it is an easy read that will expand your knowledge of World War Two's major challenges.