Book reviews


U-Boat Ace: The Story of Wolfgang Lüth

Vause, Jordan


2001, United States Naval Inst.
ISBN 1557508631
Paperback, 264 pages
book is in English language

Type. Biography
Pros. Objective coverage of a controversial figure
Cons. None to speak of
Rating.


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Wolfgang Lüth is a controversial figure in the U-boat war. An intelligent man who gave great thought to the welfare of his crews, a believer in the virtues of the family, and the second most successful commander in terms of tonnage sunk, Lüth was also a convinced Nazi who enthusiastically expressed his views. He is additionally a tragic figure, dying an ironic death - mistakenly shot by one of his own sentries a few days after the war's end.

In a preface to the book, former comrade-in-arms Erich Topp gives him the benefit of the doubt, preferring to believe that once the veil had been lifted from his eyes, he would have acted logically and intelligently against his former political inclinations. Naturally this is speculation in defense of a man who is not present to answer for himself. Jordan Vause does not speculate on Lüth's possible behavior had he survived, but rather relates and analyzes the major events of the commander's life and attempts to explain, in historical context, the various facets of a complex and contradictory personality.

The result is an objective treatment, probing the distasteful and the admirable equally without flinching. As the author states in his introduction, "History could not make up its mind about Wolfgang Lüth - whether he was good or bad, whether he was a hero or a villain, whether he was worth mentioning at all. I think he was. You must decide for yourself."

Review written by Tonya Allen.

This review was published on 26 Nov 1999.

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