Steel Boat Iron Hearts

A U-boat Crewman's Life Aboard U-505
Narrated by: Norman Dietz
Length: 11 hrs and 37 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (299 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Using his own experiences, log books, and correspondence with other U-boat crewmen, Hans Goebeler offers rich and personal details about what life was like in the German Navy under Hitler. Since his first and last posting was to U-505, Goebeler's perspective of the crew, commanders, and war patrols paints a vivid and complete portrait unlike any other to come out of the Kriegsmarine. He witnessed it all, from deadly sabotage efforts that almost sunk the boat to the tragic suicide of the only U-boat commander who took his life during World War II. The vivid, honest, and smooth-flowing prose calls it like it was and pulls no punches.

U-505 was captured by Captain Dan Gallery's Guadalcanal Task Group 22.3 on June 4, 1944. Trapped by this "hunter-killer" group, U-505 was depth-charged to the surface, strafed by machine gun fire, and boarded. It was the first ship captured at sea since the War of 1812. Today, hundreds of thousands of visitors tour U-505 each year at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

This edition includes a special foreword by Keith Gill, curator of U-505 at the Museum of Science and Industry.

©2008 Hans Jacob Goebeler and John Vanzo (P)2016 Tantor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars

A fascinating view into WWII naval history.

I grew up in Chicago and spent a lot of time at the Museum of Science and Industry I toured the U-505 many times when it was located on the outside rotting in the elements. I was elated when the old war relic was going to be given a proper home underground and fully restored to its real wartime appearance as a memorial to those brave souls who lost there lives and those who survived.
This book really brought to life the story of what life was like from a crewman's prospective. The story told here was absolutely very informative and eye opening. This was one of those books that really holds your interest. This was a well written memoir about life in Germany during wartime and living and serving in the U boat service. Eye opening.
Narrator was excellent.

4 people found this helpful

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Not impressed with the narration

Disliked the unnecessary fake German soldier enthusiasm. The voice was annoying and made it bad.

8 people found this helpful

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Interesting U-boat book

What did you love best about Steel Boat Iron Hearts?

Interesting U-boat book but the narrator seemed a bit slow and sleepy, he didn't add any emotion when reading it. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it.

3 people found this helpful

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Save your money, and buy the actual book.

I've listened to thousands of hours of Audiobooks. While I've come to be rather inured to the occasional horrible narration, I couldn't get past the first hour of this story. I mean seriously. Doesn't anyone vet these guys, or can just anyone off the street come in and somehow slur through his teeth and his nose, at the same time?

8 people found this helpful

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Good story

I enjoyed this. The author gave additional details about a submariner and specifically life aboard a u boat I had not heard elsewhere.

2 people found this helpful

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I really enjoyed it.

A great book, but it sounds like they took a few recordings of each passage and stitched them together. The change in tone of voice and emotion breaks the flow a little. At one point, the same passage is read twice in a row.

2 people found this helpful

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a sailors account of the ship he loved

As interesting and dramatic as the classic, Das Boot. Not to be missed. You will feel like you are onboard and understand the German figjting man during times of better and worse.

2 people found this helpful

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Mixed bag

I am not in a position to judge the author's wartime experience and I don't even wish to shame him for his allegiance to a vanquished German Navy. He was clearly indoctrinated and educated as an elite submariner only to be on the losing side at the end of the war, one of only 56 to claim the prize for first US Navy capture of an enemy vessel since 1812. However, while heavy burdens were placed on the author psychologically and agonizingly at such a young age (he explicitly states that he agonized over his own self perceived role in allowing U505 to fall into US Navy hands) the author's fragile yet outsized ego interferes with the story line by constant rationalization, editorial interjection, and narcissism-- a lot of "l's" and "me's"-- that call into question the factual authenticity of his accounts.

1 person found this helpful

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I Am So Glad I Purchased This Book

Any additional comments?

I was initially reluctant to read this book because of one reviewer’s statement, “But quickly the other 40% is the author bragging about having sex with prostitutes and talking about how brave he was.” I am glad I ignored this statement and believe that the reviewer’s calculation of 40% is a gross exaggeration. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and though it took some getting used to I came to appreciate the reading by Norman Dietz. As for the above statement, yes the author talked about the fact that after returning from missions at sea in a unterseeboot he and many other men availed themselves to the services of prostitutes. I did not view this as anything else than describing some of what Hans and his fellow submariners did on their shore leave. While this would conflict with many people’s morality this is not unusual behavior for men at war. Secondly as for talking about how brave he was, I would have to agree that he made these kind of statements but I believe they were justified and not made too frequently. Life above these vessels became very dangerous as the war progressed and the bravery of these men can not be ignored by objective individuals. The same hold true for German soldiers fighting the USSR during this same time period. I also appreciate Han’s description of both the good and bad officers. His book and others about the German military during this time show that frequently the officers were almost as dangerous to soldiers and sailors as the ‘enemy’. Hans comes across as honest and objective. Even if there were not a shortage of books in English about life aboard a German unterseeboot (U-boat) during WWII I would highly recommend this book.

1 person found this helpful

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Amazing!!!!

Great Book!; and full of life from a U Boat crewman aspect. is a definite keeper. Book won't let you down.

1 person found this helpful

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  • P H.
  • 05-06-18

Poor Narration

I was looking forward to this one, but felt the narrator really mangled the text. I have a lot of respect for the guys who got into a steel tube and went under the water whatever flag they flew, but there was something about the author I didn't gel with.

Disappointed

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-12-18

Spoilt story

The story is great, the narration is atrocious though. Audio books are serious literary vehicles and the choice of narrator is massive in their production. An English speaking German would have encapsulated the depth of this book, the narrator chosen detracted from it in every way. Re work this book and I'd buy it again but will never buy anything by this narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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  • G Patterson
  • 04-05-20

Fascinating personal experience.

An excellent personal account of one of few survivors of the kreigsmarine U boat service. Slightly spoiled for me by the tones of the narrator, who at times sounds almost like Professor Stephen Hawking.

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  • Royston
  • 01-01-20

A view from the other side

A brilliant story from the viewpoint of a surviving U — Boat sailor. As most war histories are written by the winners it is intriguing to see the war through the eyes of someone serving in the forces of the losers. They share the same hopes and fears, yet history dehumanises the Germans, incorrectly. This book tells the truth of what it was to be a member of an Elite few who suffered the worst percentage losses of any of the services, yet went out on a war patrol knowing they may never come back. They have my deepest respect.

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  • R Halls
  • 11-29-19

A Work Of Fiction

Purportedly a true account however I find the narrative (or should I say story!) grossly over exaggerated and full of abject fantasy with plenty of ego stroking. I highly doubt that a control room mate would be sent out on his own to catch saboteurs!

Although the author is a German the use of America naval terminology and jargon makes the book feel completely unauthentic.

I would not recommend this book as historical account but more a work of fiction with TINY grain of truth (he was a German who possibly served on a U boat)

Don't waste your money

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  • VACLAV SAMSA
  • 02-25-18

Perfect reading of a great book

German WWII uboats are my hobby for almost 30 years. I know this book, I have this book, I read this book several times before. But even then I really did enjoy this reading during long driving on boring highways
Thank you!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-28-19

Fact or Fiction?

Other complaints of this book pointed toward the authors blaming the British for the war, and referring to the treatment of the Germans post war as genocide and seemingly having his rose tinted glasses on when trying to deny much wrong doing by the Germans, but I can get over all that if his story was a good one worth telling.

For me tho, some parts of the story of the stories that the author tells about were either heavily exaggerated, or simply fiction, altho I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and put it down to the effects of old age playing tricks on the memory since he was well into old age when this memoir was written. He seems like a nice enough guy, and he has a story to tell, but the reader should be wary that some of the book could be taken with a grain of salt.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-21-19

A real account of life on a submarine

There were many times when I felt the urge to punch the author for being such a Nazi *****bag. But at the same time that is half the books value - giving you an idea of what these people thought. like when he came across a beautiful Church in France which has been reduced to rubble by air attack and he curses "the Jews and cspitalists who started this war". You feel for the author when he and the French prostitute he sees fall genuinely in love. And you see how a bad boss can nearly kill you as happens when they get a bully for a captain.

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  • A Descendant of Scotsmen
  • 01-23-19

A well written perspective

How refreshing to hear a voice from the other side of the battle of the Atlantic. An excellent story, more so for being from the ordinary sailor’s perspective.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-08-18

What a great Book

Very interesting book in a historical subject. Shame it took him so long to complete it. Rest in Peace sailor.

Love the way it was narrated. Very well done.

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  • David Hann
  • 11-20-17

Excellent

A beautifully crafted and entertains account of life in a German uboat during ww2. Regardless of which side of the conflict you align to, the crews of uboats were incredibly brave men. Highly recommend this book to anyone interested in naval warfare or ww2 history.

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  • David Ensor
  • 07-31-17

Good story

What three words best describe Norman Dietz’s voice?

fine

Any additional comments?

It was a good story but limited by an oft narrow theme of comparison between the time under two Captains

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  • Joshua
  • 05-13-17

An interesting look into life underwater

If you could sum up Steel Boat Iron Hearts in three words, what would they be?

Historically significant and interesting

What did you like best about this story?

Unflinching look at Submarines used in WW2. It is a perspective you won't get anywhere else.