England's very survival depended on assistance from the United States, much of which was transported across the ocean by boat. The shipping lanes thus became the main target of German naval operations between 1940 and 1945. The Battle of the Atlantic and the men who fought it were therefore crucial to both sides. Had Germany succeeded in cutting off the supply of American ships, England might not have held out. Yet had Churchill siphoned reinforcements to the naval effort earlier, thousands of lives might have been preserved. The battle consisted of not one but hundreds of battles, ranging from hours to days in duration, and forcing both sides into constant innovation and nightmarish second-guessing, trying desperately to gain the advantage of every encounter. Any changes to the events of this series of battles, and the outcome of the war-as well as the future of Europe and the world-would have been dramatically different.
Jonathan Dimbleby's The Battle of the Atlantic offers a detailed and immersive account of this campaign, placing it within the context of the war as a whole. Dimbleby delves into the politics on both sides of the Atlantic, revealing the role of Bletchley Park and the complex and dynamic relationship between America and England. He uses contemporary diaries and letters from leaders and sailors to chilling effect, evoking the lives and experiences of those who fought the longest battle of World War Two. This is the definitive account of the Battle of the Atlantic.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-01-18
- Reviewer: Staff
Dimbleby (Destiny in the Desert), an experienced journalist and historian, makes a convincing case that of all the campaigns of WWII, the struggle for dominance over the North Atlantic was the most important. In support of his thesis, Dimbleby effectively describes the strategic situation as seen from London, Berlin, and Washington. Through the carefully researched actions of the senior leadership, he demonstrates that all of the senior naval and political leaders were aware of the importance of the campaign. The book shows how close the Germans came to victory: in 1941, the Allies could only replace one-third of the ships lost, and in 1942 the Germans destroyed a million tons more shipping than was replaced. Equally well done is Dimbleby’s telling of the personal experiences, using diaries, letters, and ship’s logs, including his descriptions of a days-long fight to survive in a life raft in the frigid North Atlantic and an hours-long depth-charge attack endured 700 feet below the surface of the ocean. The history of the battle for the Atlantic is well documented, but Dimbleby’s work, with its emphasis on the strategic importance of the battle, is an excellent addition to the story, and expert historians as well as general readers can enjoy this effort. (Mar.)