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Turning the Tide: How a Small Band of Allied…
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Turning the Tide: How a Small Band of Allied Sailors Defeated the U-boats…

by Ed Offley

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Interesting read about the factors that led to the Allies gaining the upper hand in the battle of the North Atlantic. The author looks at the passage of a small number of convoys over a short period of time to demonstrate the impact that particular decisions and technical advances on the side of the Allies had on minimising the effectiveness of the Germans. The downside was that at times it felt like you were reading an omnibus of statistics, rather than seeing the human side of the War. ( )
  kenno82 | Sep 23, 2014 |
The Atlantic battle of WW II was brutal and absolutely crucial to the survival for Britain. This was an unforgiving collision of submarines, merchant shipping, and allied destroyer/corvettes ships. This author did an good job portraying the struggle and the ultimate outcome of this life/death struggle. I am glad this story is being told with a such great command of the complexities of this particular war. I like the way the author told the many individual experiences. I am impressed by strength and dignity of these many seaman and military men who made great sacrifices to get vital supplies and equipment to Britain. This was tremendous fight which eventually ended the submarine threat. ( )
  phillund | Aug 13, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is an audio book I received instead of the paper copy, not what I had expected and never did listen too. I am not an audio book person so I cannot give an honest review of this book until I get the paper copy. ( )
  virg144 | Apr 28, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As I review this, I need to separate the format from the content. As you know, I normally LOVE audio books, and was delighted to receive the audio from the Early Review program.

BUT...................this is a book that has to be read in hard copy to be fully appreciated. The narrator, James Adams does a yeoman job of getting through this tome but it simply is not a book well suited to audio. There are hundreds of alpha-numeric designations and numerical descriptors that do not lend themselves to oral recitation. For example, at the beginning of chapter 6, pg. 107 of the print copy, we see

"Three weeks earlier, U-653 had damaged the 9,382-ton Dutch Madoera, a straggler from westbound Convoy ON166, and just four days before it had dispatched the drifting 7,176-ton American freighter Thomas Hooker, which had been abandoned by its crew after suffering major structural failures during the previous week."

Try reading this aloud (Pay close attention to every syllable and you'll get an idea of how cumbersome this is to the ear):

"Three weeks earlier, U -six-five-three had just damaged the nine thousand three hundred eighty two ton .....a straggler from westbound Convoy O- N-one-six-six, and just fours days .....the drifting seven thousand one hundred seventy six ton......yada yada yada."

There are literally three to ten such sentences on every one of the 392 pages of the print edition. Trying to follow the story from the audio was painful....there was simply no way one could track who was doing what to whom without resorting to pencil and paper. After the first of 13 discs, I gave up and went hunting for the book. I finally located the one copy in the State and had it sent from a community college library to mine.

I then was able to listen to the audio, but had the book at hand to supplement the story with all the enlightening illustrations, maps, charts, glossaries, Convoy lists, etc. It's a wonderful wonderful history of one of the most important battles of World War II, and the audio simply does not do it justice. Our ears and brains just don't register that kind of data without having to stop and make mental notes. Audio books should tell a story in a continuous flow so that the listener/ear-reader can follow along seamlessly. Listening to this was like driving along a turnpike that had speed bumps every 1/2 mile. You never get up to speed, and you're constantly off on the shoulder to check the map and make sure you know where you are.

Enough about the audio. The book itself, as I mentioned above, is incredibly well-researched, coherently written, elegantly edited (I didn't see a misspelled word or dangling participle anyplace!), has ample supplemental material enhancing the text, and should stand as one of the best naval history books of World War II. While the author has a limited scope (the time frame is quite short: the first six months of 1943), he gives us both the Allied and German perspectives on what was happening, who was involved, what lessons were learned, and how it impacted the rest of the war. It was fascinating, and surprisingly easy to follow in print. Our eyes and brains seem to have been conditioned to grasp "Convoy ON166" as a single reading bullet vice the seven syllables we had to absorb in the audio. The charts, maps and pictures added so much- giving us faces to go with names, outlines to go with ship shapes, and places to imagine. It's a tremendous reference book if you have any interest in this battle at all. Offley certainly has given us the definitive work on the subject. I just wish that James Adams' wonderful narrating voice hadn't been so wasted.

I'm giving this one 4 1/2 stars as a print book, 1 1/2 as an audio. ( )
  tututhefirst | Nov 6, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I "read" this as an audiobook.

The book itself: Turning the Tide falls in with what I consider the best of recent World War II histories. It tells a big story using both the observations of individual participants and overviews of the bigger picture surrounding the specific events in the Atlantic. So the story moves seamlessly from blow-by-blow descriptions of battles to discussions of code breaking, submarine engineering, and political wrangling over air cover in the Atlantic. In this way I felt I got a good picture of the complexity of the Battle for the Atlantic and the lives of the people who were involved on both sides. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the European theater of World War II. Caveat: the audio book obviously has no footnotes and bibliography. I assume from the multitude of sources referred to in the text that the hard copy book has extensive notes, which would be an important addition for anyone seriously interested in this topic. If your interest is serious, you should check for this feature before acquiring the book.

The audio: I've been using audio books for the last year to "read" material that I want an overview of but don't care about the details. With the audio I can engage in other activities while "reading" and do two things at once. This book worked very well for that purpose. I got a good overview of many aspects of the World War II naval warfare without spending a lot of time on it. However, if you are seriously interested in the topic, you will not want the audio version of this book. Aside from the problem with the notes mentioned above, there is a lot of important information conveyed in numbers and in German, which are not simple to track by ear. You will quickly become frustrated trying to keep track of boat numbers and captain names. However, if like me you're looking for an overview and can ignore the details that fail to register, or you just like to listen to action-packed war stories while driving in your car, you will find this audio book very satisfying.

The narrator: James Adams has a nice BBC British accent and, to the best of my knowledge, does a good job with the German names. He is careful when reading numbers and with parenthetical translations of the German making it easier to track this information by ear than it would have been with a less careful narrator. ( )
  aulsmith | Sep 25, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 046501397X, Hardcover)

The United States experienced its most harrowing military disaster of World War II not in 1941 at Pearl Harbor but in the period from 1942 to 1943, in Atlantic coastal waters from Newfoundland to the Caribbean. Sinking merchant ships with impunity, German U-boats threatened the lifeline between the United States and Britain, very nearly denying the Allies their springboard onto the European Continent--a loss that would have effectively cost the Allies the war.

In Turning the Tide, author Ed Offley tells the gripping story of how, during a twelve-week period in the spring of 1943, a handful of battle-hardened American, British, and Canadian sailors turned the tide in the Atlantic. Using extensive archival research and interviews with key survivors, Offley places the reader at the heart of the most decisive maritime battle of World War II.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:31 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The United States experienced its most harrowing military disaster of World War II not in 1941 at Pearl Harbor but in the period from 1942 to 1943, in Atlantic coastal waters from Newfoundland to the Caribbean. Sinking merchant ships with impunity, German U-boats threatened the lifeline between the United States and Britain, very nearly denying the Allies their springboard onto the European continent--a loss that would have effectively cost the Allies the war. Here, military journalist Ed Offley tells how, during a twelve-week period in the spring of 1943, a handful of battle-hardened American, British, and Canadian sailors turned the tide in the Atlantic. Using extensive archival research and interviews with key survivors, Offley places the reader at the heart of the most decisive maritime battle of World War II.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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