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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… (edition 2011)

by Ed Offley, James Adams (Reader)

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5711207,436 (3.25)5
virg144's review
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 |
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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 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In the summer of 1940, Adolf Hitler’s Germany had conquered the majority of mainland Europe and he turned his eyes to England. He amassed any type of vessel that could transport troops, packed them into French and Belgian ports then tasked his Luftwaffe to bomb England and the British navy into subjugation prior to an invasion. The Battle of Britain in the late summer and fall of 1940 ended the invasion threat and left England still standing but alone to challenge Germany.
Hitler next turned to his navy to sever the shipping lifeline that was England’s only source of raw materials and supplies from the western hemisphere. Dozens of submarines hunted the convoys of supply ships in groups called wolf packs costing the allies valuable materiel but even more important, precious ships were being lost faster than they could be replaced. This was what became known as the Battle of the Atlantic. In early 1943 things looked bleak for the English.
This is where Ed Offley begins to tell the story of the changing fortunes during the Battle of the Atlantic in “Turning the Tide”. Offley contrasts two convoy trips across the Atlantic, the first east bound while the Germans held the upper hand. The second, west bound a couple of months later when improved air cover and technological advances swung the favor to the allies and ended the threat to the shipping that supplied England. “Turning the Tide” finds a good balance between explaining overall strategy of the opposing forces and commanders and getting down to the level of the individual sailors, merchantmen and their captains.
Much has been written about the Battle of the Atlantic covering many aspects, but looking at two particular convoy routes and contrasting the successes and failures just as the fortunes of war swing from one side to the other brings a unique view of this critical portion of WWII.
The reviewed content here was in the form of an audio book, an unabridged reading on 14 CD’s covering 17 hours and 15 minutes. I have used audio books in the past for difficult fiction reads and found them useful for that purpose, but I can’t say the same for a non-fiction piece. Unlike the fiction, I found I needed to devote 100 per-cent attention to it and was maddened by not being able to refer back to previous points easily. There was no reference as to what discs covered what chapters. The playlist for each CD showed only track number and running time and most discs ended mid-paragraph. I would have liked to have seen at least what chapter each track was part of and to have each CD end with a complete thought. Most of the 14 discs had some damage near the end that caused loud “pops”, skips and other noise to the point of not being able to hear the narrative. The narrator was clear and easy to listen to although somewhat dry, a little excitement during the more dramatic portions would have been welcome. He also tended to over enunciate the German names and ranks.
Overall I give high marks to the scope, content and storytelling by the author but low marks for the audio book product as delivered by the publisher.
  gordon361 | Aug 9, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Turning The Tide by Ed Offley tells the story of the battle between the U-boats and the British and American Navies turning WWII and how the battles turned in favor of the allies. To me it was more interesting to hear about a lesser known part of WWII the sacrifice of the Merchant Navy. They suffered a high casualty rate with basically a small force to protect them. Other than the fact it sometimes felt like I was being read a naval technical manual this book was worth the listen.
  satchmo77 | Jul 31, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this as an audio book - much to my surprise. I've never "read" an audio book before and now I know I never will again. I had to resort to listening to this at odd moments on my computer, 15 minutes here, 10 minutes there. Finally let it play while watching baseball with the sound on the TV muted.

I did find a lot of the book interesting and the narrator did a fine job, but listening to it just didn't convey the same volume of information that reading it would have.

I intend to purchase the printed edition when it comes out and perhaps can provide a better review at that time. No fault of the creator's of this audio edition, it's just not my cup of tea. ( )
  5hrdrive | Jul 28, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I did not realize this was an audiobook when I requested it. However, Disc 1 was quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, there were several places where Disc 2 skipped and it was too disctracting to follow. Such is one of the hazards of an audiobook. What makes this even more disappointing is that the Englishman who was reading the book was quite enjoyable. The other negative aspect of this was not changing discs at the end of chapters. The information presented was easy to follow and seemed to be thoroughly researched. I feel that I would have thoroughly enjoyed the entire set if there had been no technical concerns. ( )
  Hedgepeth | Jul 9, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Turning the Tide joins a wave of WWII books which are now mainly being written without the benefit of the actual participants contributing to the story. Where there are yet veterans to question, their stories generally do not contribute significantly to the narratives as most WWII veterans with stories to tell have already told them, buried them in their minds or taken them to their graves.Thus authors are forced to rely on military records and other written materials and the result can read like a statistical report. Turning the Tide falls into this group with far too much detail. However it has been very well researched and can offer future historians a wealth of statistics on the Battle of the Atlantic and the ships and men on both sides who fought in it. ( )
  seoulful | Jul 1, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I loved this audiobook.

With most WWII histories, there are a lot of numbers, letters, and acronyms to remember. If you can keep them straight -- and the author helps this by wrapping bits of context around many of them -- then it's an engaging story well-told.

The narrative of two convoys crossing the North Atlantic is pauses periodically to provide sidebars of background material (e.g., ULTRA radio intelligence and the Enigma machines). The thread is quickly picked up again, however, and the action continues. When I find myself scrambling to get the next CD in, I know I am enjoying the tale.

The reader's voice is wonderful, though he leans a little hard on the names "Fiorello LaGuardia" and "Verrazano" at times. :7)

I have not heard anything that I take issue with in this book. I'm not infallible, but this seems like a solid text. ( )
  wenestvedt | Jun 30, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This audiobook tells the story about the struggle against German U-boats in the Atlantic during World War II between 1942 and 1943, and how Americans, British, and Canadians turned the tide during a twelve-week period in the spring of 1943.

The battle between German U-boats and Allied conveys is a truly exciting story, although you only catch occasional glimpses of that in this overly detailed history. Listening to the book on audio only exacerbates the too-much-information problem, as you hear so many numbers associated with each vessel and so many names associated with each boat that you can hardly concentrate on the battles themselves. This book is just painful to listen to at times. Also, there is a lot in this story that would benefit from the addition of visual aids, such as maps and diagrams.

Personally, I recommend that if you want to know about the tense excitement and terror of U-boat raids, you can’t do better than the movie Das Boot: Wolfgang Petersen's 1981 harrowing and claustrophobic U-boat thriller.

On the positive side, the reader, James Adams, is a joy. His enunciation is terrific, and his pronunciation of the German names and ranks is delightful. I would consider listening to a CD that featured him reading a German phone book. But if you are looking for a good account of the WWII military fight in the Atlantic, I would skip this particular resource. ( )
  nbmars | Jun 30, 2011 |
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