Naval Warfare Books

The Admiral's Wolf Pack

Noli, Jean

1974, Doubleday
ISBN 0385003722
396 pages

Type. General History
Pros. None
Cons. Completely inaccurate

At first glance, this seems like a decent book, as it covers the major events and personalities of the U-boat war in a dramatic and readable style. However, one soon begins to suspect that accuracy may have been sacrificed for this style. By less than halfway through the book, a number of serious errors begin to appear in terms of dates, commander names, etc. Anyone reading this book with no prior knowledge of the topic would be seriously misled about the events and nature of the U-boat war.


The book reads like a novel, with much of the story being told in dialogue. Obviously, most of this dialogue must have been invented by the author. Even if it might reflect the general flavor of events and the personalities of those involved, it is still a product of imagination.

A large proportion of the book is devoted to describing the various shore leaves supposedly experienced by some of the well-known commanders. While it is not to be denied that drunken bacchanals did occur, many of the details seem to have been embellished upon by the author, and to focus on these incidents at the expense of more worthwhile material is pure sensationalism.

It might have been possible to overlook these first two issues, if not for the serious factual errors that make this book worthless as a historical source. Here are some examples found in just a short span of pages:

    The Laconia is described as being sunk in 1941 (it was 1942).

    Eck is said to be commander of U-532, rather than the correct U-852, and the author writes that after sinking the Peleus he and his crew were captured on 27 October, 1942 (it was 3 May, 1944).

    U-265 is described as still afloat and on patrol on 5 March, 1943, when she was actually sunk on 3 February. Her commander is listed as Harllfinger, rather than the correct Auffhammer.

    Commander von Matuschka is rendered as von Maritschka

    The mysterious Harllfinger again appears as commander of U-240 (really Günther Link).

The rest of the book is full of similar errors. If you are looking for an exciting read and don't care at all about facts, this book is for you. Otherwise, don't bother.

Review written by Tonya Allen.

Published on 28 Dec 1999.