Naval Warfare Books

Book reviews

U-Boats at War

Busch, Harald

1982, Putnam
ISBN 0345307550
Paperback, 176 pages, no photos, no index, no bibliography

Type. General History
Pros. Very readable book covering some of the highlights of the U-boat war
Cons. One serious error (see below); no index

The book is arranged chronologically in four sections, covering 3 September 1939 to summer 1940; summer 1940 to spring 1942; spring 1942 to March 1943; and spring 1943 to May 1945. Each section begins with a historical overview of that period, then goes on to highlight the experiences of various U-boats active during that time. The result is a useful summary of U-boat warfare in World War II.

Part 1 covers U-47 at Scapa Flow; U-48 (Schultze); a first-person chapter (the author was a veteran of the U-boat force); and U-57 (Topp).

Part 2 recounts the stories of U-93 (Korth); U-99's sinking and Kretschmer's capture; U-107 (Hessler); U-124 (Mohr); and U-106 (Rasch). This section also contains the book's only serious error, in that U-107 is referred to as U-106 throughout the chapter on Hessler.

Part 3 treats U-201 (Schnee); U-552 (Topp again); and U-73 (Rosenbaum); and includes a chapter by Reinhart Reche of U-255 on his participation in the action against convoy PQ-17.

Part 4 presents the adventures of U-516 (Tillessen) and U-953 (Marbach), and includes the full text of Wolfgang Lüth's famous lecture on leadership and morale in U-boats.

A short introductory chapter gives the reader a taste of what life on a U-boat was like. Written in a clear yet dramatic style, sometimes using the present tense to heighten suspense at critical moments, this is both an excellent read and a valuable historical overview. The author based his work on his own experiences and on interviews with other men of the U-boat force to form a vivid and generally accurate picture of the course of the conflict. The only major flaw (besides the U-106/U-107 confusion noted above) is the lack of an index.

Review written by Tonya Allen.

Published on 7 Feb 2000.

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