A gripping tale of heroism - and doom - on the high seas....
The sinking of the German battleship Bismarck - a masterpiece of engineering, well-armored with a main artillery of eight 15-inch guns - was one of the most dramatic events of World War II. She left the port of Gotenhafen for her first operation on the night of 18 May 1941, yet was almost immediately discovered by Norwegian resistance and Allied air reconnaissance. British battlecruiser Hood was quickly dispatched from Scapa Flow to intercept the Bismarck, together with new battleship Prince of Wales. They were ordered to find the ship quickly because, on their way from the USA, several large convoys were heading for Britain.
On 24 May, Bismarck was found off the coast of Greenland, but the ensuing battle was disastrous for the British. The Hood was totally destroyed within minutes (with only three crewmen surviving), and Prince of Wales was badly damaged. The chase resumed until the German behemoth was finally caught, this time by four British capital ships supported by torpedo-bombers from the carrier Ark Royal. The icy North Atlantic roiled from the crash of shellfire and bursting explosions until finally the Bismarck collapsed, sending nearly 2,000 German sailors to a watery grave.
Tamelander and Zetterling's work rests on stories from survivors and the latest historical discoveries. The book starts with a thorough account of maritime developments from 1871 up to the era of the giant battleship, and ends with a vivid account, hour by hour, of the dramatic and fateful hunt for the mighty Bismarck, Nazi-Germany's last hope to pose a powerful surface threat to Allied convoys.
©2009 Niklas Zetterling & Michael Tamelander (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
This was an excellent book! I love reading about naval history and the battles from WWII. Though the days of the surface to surface warfare on the high seas are all but gone, there is something exciting about steel vessels hunting for one another in the North Atlantic that had my attention from the first chapter.
It's 1941 so the regular use of radar and sonar for that matter cannot be relied upon so navies from both the Axis and Allies had to rely on intercepted radio transmissions, last known positions, and the human eye to track and hunt the opposition. And now it is up to the Royal Navy to hunt and destroy one of the worlds most powerful battleships even after they have been beaten with the sinking of the HMS Hood.
The writer does an excellent job conveying this well-known story from both the German and British perspectives. Never getting ahead of either, Zetterling effectively goes back and forth between the two navies to explain what each was doing, thinking, and attempting to do while integrating countless anecdotes from those who were there. Thoroughly enjoyable!
I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in WWII history, anyone interested in naval strategy, and anyone looking to add a volume to their collection like no other book. Two thumbs up!
This is a serious maritime history, which is hard to find these days. It is excellently narrated by Charles Constant, who has the voice for it, and the intuitive feel for this type of material. Some of the sentences in the book are long and complex. Mr Constant knows where to pause verbally to break them into understandable segments. And he knows how to give emphasis without over-dramatizing. I'm a dedicated history reader (and listener). I wish some of my other favorite history audiotapes had been narrated by this man. Too often, the books are narrated by people who don't have a feel for the material, and don't how to pace it verbally. This, on the other hand, is a first-rate performance.
Graf Spee by Dudley Pope. Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman. Along with this book, they are serious histories, related in a way that is respectful of the material.
Captain Ernst Lindemann. A master seaman, who took what care he could for his men under ultimately terrible circumstances.
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