Book Review-‘From Hunter to Hunted: The U-Boat war in the Atlantic, 1939–1943’ by B. Edwards

By, published January 2021


Battle of the Atlantic literature is mature, or perhaps to borrow a term from obstetrics, post-mature. In the beginning were the staff and official histories, written by those with expert knowledge and, sometimes, direct experience: staff histories did not see the general light of day for several decades and the key official history from the British perspective is Stephen Roskill’s The War at Sea. This was not just about the Battle of the Atlantic but contained much concerning it. These works were followed by the reminiscence works written by those who participated. Such tended not to be written by historians nor generally did the authors have access to official records, but they benefited from first-hand experience of the events chronicled. Already a theme started to emerge of only writing about the events which saw a significant degree of action, thus introducing an understandable but significant bias. This slant was continued by the next and third generation – often skilled writers but not always with relevant experience – who tended to write about high action convoys and other intense events. Only later was a cooler and more analytical light shone on the Battle of the Atlantic by such historians as the Canadian, Marc Milner, who pointed out that inaction was far more the norm than the ‘blazing wreck, ping-ping, bang-bang’ school. His aphorism, ‘happy the convoy that has no history’, is an excellent leitmotiv. However, the book under review takes us back to this third generation…

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Filed under: Atlantic | WW2
Subjects include: Submarines | Weapons

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