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Publisher's Summary

A bold and authoritative maritime history of World War II which takes a fully international perspective and challenges our existing understanding

Command of the oceans was crucial to winning World War II. By the start of 1942 Nazi Germany had conquered mainland Europe, and Imperial Japan had overrun Southeast Asia and much of the Pacific. How could Britain and distant America prevail in what had become a "war of continents"? 

In this definitive account, Evan Mawdsley traces events at sea from the first U-boat operations in 1939 to the surrender of Japan. He argues that the Allied counterattack involved not just decisive sea battles, but a long struggle to control shipping arteries and move armies across the sea. 

Covering all the major actions in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as those in the narrow seas, this book interweaves for the first time the endeavors of the maritime forces of the British Empire, the United States, Germany, and Japan, as well as those of France, Italy, and Russia.

©2019 Evan Mawdsley (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about The War for the Seas

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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An Unengaging Survey that Disappoints

TLDR: Listen to Craig Symond's "World War II At Sea" instead of this.

This comprehensive review of the "sea-air" war in World War II summarizes practically every naval engagement during the war, but because of its scope, practically none of the battles are described with enough detail or context to make them interesting. It reads like a collection of Wikipedia articles. It gives practically zero biography or personality for the historical figures (Nimitz, Yamamoto, Dönitz, etc.), and the structure is especially ill-suited to an audio book. It's divided into five phases of the war, and breaks each phase down by country -- here's what England did, America, Germany, Japan, Italy, etc. This makes for a confusing, largely non-chronological account.

The book also has a decidedly English focus -- which could be good or bad, depending on your interest. The book argues that the Royal Navy is not given enough credit for its contributions to victory. True or not, it's odd that major battles that don't involve British forces (e.g. Pearl Harbor and much of the Pacific War) are given short summaries, while more time is spent on battles between the British and Italian Navies in the Mediterranean. One specifically strange example of this anglo-focus is the author's account of D-Day. He shares anecdotes and reminiscences from Sword Beach (where British forces landed), while practically ignoring Omaha Beach (where Americans landed) -- despite briefly acknowledging that Omaha Beach is where the hardest fighting occurred.

I've been listening to World War 2 history for the past year (Churchill, Ian Toll, Craig Symonds, James Holland, Erik Larson), and this was the most tedious. If you're looking for a book that covers the entire naval war, I would recommend "World War II at Sea" by Craig Symonds instead.

18 people found this helpful

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The Definitive history of the war on the seas WWII

Hesitated for months purchasing this book. Really, just how many books on the subject of WWII can one read! Fiinally after seeing the preeminent historian author's one word review of the book, "impeccable," Max Hastings, I bought it. I never ceased to be amazed at the research these great authors must delve into in order to in this case, produce a masterpiece on the magnitude of this book! I will be going back to this masterpiece reading and referencing it for years! It's not a 10, it's a 20! Into WWII don't miss it. Allen B.

4 people found this helpful

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A Real Slog

i have no problem with dry histories, but this takes it too far. 70% of the book follows the same formula: Ships X, Y and Z engaged ships A and B off the Cape of Bob, with Z and B damaged and A sunk. 347 were killed. Next, ships J and K engaged etc. etc. The other 30% is discussing tonnage under the Washington Naval Treaty.

There is no real insight and relatively little analysis. He takes a few shots at specific other historians, and that is as exciting as it gets. I don't need heroic narrative, but it reads like the naval equivalent of a book report.

2 people found this helpful

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Narrator needs some caffeine.

the sea battles of the second world war is an exciting story this narrator makes it a drudgery it's almost unbearable to listen to.
the thrilling Battle of Guadalcanal is turned into a recital on stereo instructions.

1 person found this helpful

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OMG.......

hour after hour of mind numbing figures and facts read in monotone drone. skip it.

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Worth a listen for all history buffs

I at first thought it might get bogged down with too much detail. However It is worth that aspect when one discovers so much new information about so many overlooked events. I became appreciative of those facts as the book progressed. Splendidly read.

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Good story

Performance is difficult to understand...tone does not vary. Story is well developed and very thorough.