I have recently read Titanic 2012 ...and when I started Bismarck 2013, I got concerned that it was going to be a replay of Titanic, in different clothing. Then I got ensnared in the historical story of the Bismarck ...and by the time the book returned to the modern effort, I was hooked. However, I think readers who have read both books might be tempted to dismiss Bismarck as a first cousin of Titanic, and dismiss the plot as a re-run. That would be *very* unfortunate, because, while there are similarities (both take place on, and under, water), they are emphatically *not* the same book.
As always, the writing is tight and marvelous. Rob Walker displays a true mastery of his language, and his pacing carries you along with the ease of a strong current. I like his straightforward and deceptively simple style, it is perfect for the kinds of material with which he works, and *it* works, brilliantly.
While I think his characters are good, I think his best characters, both in this and in Titanic, are the characters of the historical stories. He deals in this book with at least one character we have come to know and not love, and it is true to everything I've ever read or heard of him. But a ship is *full* of people, and Rob Walker populates his Bismarck with some stunning characters, each different, each driven by motivations that are consistently plausible ...even when things become *very* anarchic indeed. The characters act as they must. there are a few of them who will probably wander around in my imagination for a good little while, too, because in both stories (modern and World War II), there are true heroes, who fight to maintain decency to death and beyond, and whose battles are, in their way inspiring.
The bottom line, though, for any book is ...does it read well? Answer: yes times 10. Does it keep the reader's interest? Oh, yeah ...sometimes to the exclusion of necessary, sensible things. Is it good story telling? Absolutely! This book won't change my life, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would highly recommend it to anyone with even a minimal interest in history, ships and *really* good, scary books.