Death At Seaby Eric Dorn Brose
If Graf Spee fled the Far East, however, attractive options beckoned. By sailing into the
Death at Sea is the story of Graf Maximilian von Spee, commander of the German squadron in China at the outbreak of World War One. His was a powerful flotilla, but not powerful enough to remain in Asia, where the ships of Britain, France, Russia, and Japan could destroy him.
If Graf Spee fled the Far East, however, attractive options beckoned. By sailing into the heart of the British Empire surrounding the Indian Ocean he could disrupt commerce and troop movements and perhaps spark rebellion in India. But if he sailed east across the Pacific and into the Atlantic, all the way around the world to Germany to reinforce the home fleet, together they represented a significant threat to the British navy. It all depended on what he decided to do. To a significant extent the outcome of World War One also depended on what he decided to do.
Death at Sea is the novelistic history of what happened to Graf Spee's squadron and the ships that Britain deployed in an anxiety-charged effort to eliminate the menacing German threat. Opposing naval tactics and gunnery skills combined with the "fog of war," questionable leadership, and fatalistic personalities on both sides to determine the outcome.
The author is professor of history at Drexel University in Philadelphia. His previous seven books include A History of the Great War (Oxford University Press, 2009), A History of Europe in the Twentieth Century (Oxford University Press, 2004), and The Kaiser's Army (Oxford University Press, 2001).
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A must read for World War I and naval warfare aficionados, Death at Sea: Graf Spee and the Flight of the German East Asiatic Squadron in 1914 by Eric Dorn Brose, is a story narrating the tragedies of war. The most fascinating aspect of the book is that it exhibits the texture of a novel amidst dense descriptions of historical events-compiled primarily from historical accounts of survivors and other primary sources. Death at Sea, through its use of English and German perspectives, as well as through the unbiased main narrator, strives to tell an authentic story of the fate of these soldiers. Death at Sea is intriguing primarily because of the sensitivity with which the narrator intertwines both the German and English points of view. The book opens in 1917-the aftermath of World War I-with one German narrator, and then flashes back to 1914 with another German narrator. Brose, the main narrator, chimes in with argumentation and analysis that only a historian can provide. He expertly demonstrates to the reader that the flight of the squadron was not a mere afterthought of WWI; instead, it was a critical point in the war. Essentially, this text stresses the destruction and havoc that can be wreaked as a result of faulty leadership at the forefront. For a better appreciation this work, it is extremely important to understand that the outcome of any war is predicated on a multitude of complex elements. As a result, even the most inconsequential decision made in haste could change the delicate balance of a war, and thus its outcome. The main character in this story, aside from the squadron itself, is the leader, Graf Maximilian von Spee, commander of the German East Asiatic naval Squadron based in Tsingtao, China. What many people don't realize, Brose proposes, is that the outcome of World War I was largely dependent on whether Spee decided to sail the long distance back to Germany and attack the British navy, or to disrupt British troops and the state of commerce in the Indian Ocean. For the readers, the outcome of Death at Sea is the recognition of how catastrophic war is. There is a strong element of trust in the narrator, and thus the author, because of its keen attention to detail and effort to include factual dialogue. Ultimately, Brose successfully portrays the Germans and English in a sympathetic light, setting the stage for full-on bloodshed through the inevitable horrors of war.