The Good Shepherdby C. S. Forester
The mission of the
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"C. S. Forester is the First Admiral of all the seven seas of fiction," wrote John P. Marquand after reading The Good Shepherd. "Commander George Krause, USN, skipper of the American destroyer Keeling, is a long jump from Forester's best known hero Horatio Hornblower. But Commander Krause for my book is exactly as good as Hornblower ever was."
The mission of the commander was to lead the protecting screen of four escort vessels convoying thirty-seven Allied merchantmen across the icy North Atlantic from America to England. It was in the most critical days of WW II, when the German submarines had the upper hand and Allied shipping was suffering heavy losses.
The tense, concentrated action begins when Commander Krause is called to the bridge just after he has taken a much deserved shower. The wolf pack is forming and he has not time even to put on warm outer garments. For the next forty-eight hours he remains on the bridge.
Exhausted beyond measuare, he must make continuous and critical decisions as he leads his small fighting force against the relentless U-boats. Inevitably ships are sunk and men are drowned, but the enemy pays the price and the convoy pushes on to its objective.
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C.S. Forester gives us an exceptional study of military command leadership in a critical wartime situation. He presents the reader with a career navy officer, not perfect, but nonetheless tremendously dedicated and capable, challenged not only to command his ship in the grave threat of submarine warfare in the WWII Atlantic, but also to escort and guide convoy vessels through the dangers of the submerged hunters. The book is full of excellent detail of destroyer combat operations, the tactics of anti-submarine warfare, and command leadership afloat. Quickly building to a thrilling pace and narrative, Forester's The Good Shepherd is hard to put down. Highly recommended to anyone looking for a well written thriller, and especially for those with an interest in military reading.
This was an unexpected surprise as the title is the same as a movie released just a few years ago but of a total different setting and plot altogether. This book is a very good read and a surprisingly fast read at 575 pages. Foresters main character rarely travels farther than a 100 feet from the main setting and then for just a minute or two. And yet this book is so fast paced and visually packed you fly along from chapter to chapter eventually letting go of where you think it's going to happily ride out the storms and battles trusting to a safe haven at long last. You are two thirds into it before you see the hero's personal hell and internal anguish and yet admire his senses of right and wrong both to junior ranked Americans under his direct command to representatives from a number of different nations who are his charge alike. As to it being somewhat personal C S Forester went through a nasty divorce in real life and I have no idea who or what was the cause but you sure can feel it in his story lines.
A good yarn, though not Forester's best.
A good book on World War II naval warfare.