Burning Shore: How Hitler's U-Boats Brought World War II to America

( 4 )

Overview


On June 15, 1942, as thousands of vacationers lounged in the sun at Virginia Beach, two massive fireballs erupted just offshore from a convoy of oil tankers steaming into Chesapeake Bay. While men, women, and children gaped from the shore, two damaged oil tankers fell out of line and began to sink. Then a small escort warship blew apart in a violent explosion. Navy warships and aircraft peppered the water with depth charges, but to no avail. Within the next twenty-four hours, a fourth ship lay at the bottom of ...
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The Burning Shore: How Hitler's U-Boats Brought World War II to America

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Overview


On June 15, 1942, as thousands of vacationers lounged in the sun at Virginia Beach, two massive fireballs erupted just offshore from a convoy of oil tankers steaming into Chesapeake Bay. While men, women, and children gaped from the shore, two damaged oil tankers fell out of line and began to sink. Then a small escort warship blew apart in a violent explosion. Navy warships and aircraft peppered the water with depth charges, but to no avail. Within the next twenty-four hours, a fourth ship lay at the bottom of the channel— all victims of twenty-nine-year-old Kapitänleutnant Horst Degen and his crew aboard the German U-boat U-701.

In The Burning Shore, acclaimed military reporter Ed Offley presents a thrilling account of the bloody U-boat offensive along America’s east coast during the first half of 1942, using the story of Degen’s three war patrols as a lens through which to view this forgotten chapter of World War II. For six months, German U-boats prowled the waters off the eastern seaboard, sinking merchant ships with impunity, and threatening to sever the lifeline of supplies flowing from America to Great Britain. Degen’s successful infiltration of the Chesapeake Bay in mid-June drove home the U-boats’ success, and his spectacular attack terrified the American public as never before. But Degen’s cruise was interrupted less than a month later, when U.S. Army Air Forces Lieutenant Harry J. Kane and his aircrew spotted the silhouette of U-701 offshore. The ensuing clash signaled a critical turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic—and set the stage for an unlikely friendship between two of the episode’s survivors.

A gripping tale of heroism and sacrifice, The Burning Shore leads readers into a little-known theater of World War II, where Hitler’s U-boats came close to winning the Battle of the Atlantic before American sailors and airmen could finally drive them away.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/13/2014
In the first half of 1942, Nazi U-boats ravaged the coastal traffic of a still-unprepared United States as submarines like U-701 and its captain Horst Degen strove to sever the transatlantic lifeline keeping Britain in the war. American antisubmarine doctrine and technology were “a backwater function,” while American air crews like Lt. Harry Kane’s and the men of his obsolescent Lockheed Hudson were civilians in uniform—amateurs fighting professionals. Offley (Scorpion Down), a specialist in underwater operations, evokes the environment of U-boats that were themselves obsolescent—small, cramped, and operating at the limits of their effective range. Only the best commanders brought their boats back from repeated patrols. In three patrols U-701 sank four ships, damaged four more, and laid a minefield that was “an unparalleled success.” On July 7, 1942, Kane and Degen met off Cape Hatteras, NC. Degen was elite, but met his match in Kane: Hudson 9-29-322 became the first Army Air Forces plane to sink a U-Boat in American waters. Offley exemplifies the action as part of an American learning curve that led Degen to congratulate Kane on his attack when they later met in an American hospital—and after four decades they renewed contact, located U-701, and marked the site. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

Washington Post
“[The Burning Shore] will be, I think, a real eye-opener for readers who assume that the war was fought in Europe, Asia and Africa, but not here.... It would be foolish to wax sentimental about [Kane and Degen’s] story, and Offley wisely refrains from doing so, but it does bring the history of the U-boats to an unexpected and quite gratifying conclusion.”

San Antonio Express-News
“Offley expertly accomplishes a spellbinding reconstruction of the first successful sinking of a U-boat in American waters by a U.S. Army Air Forces aircraft.... The Burning Shore is an insightful reminder that World War II was not only fought on far-off foreign lands and seas, but close to home as well.”

Post and Courier (Charleston)
“Offley’s story is admittedly a small one, covering just the opening few months of the war, but he does a good job of capturing those frightful earlier days of the conflict. The author of several previous books, including Turning the Tide and Scorpion Down, Offley is a good writer, no where is that more evident than in his dramatic chronicling of Kane’s attack on U-701 and Degen’s struggle to survive.”

Naval History
“Offley’s book is a well-researched expose on the early battles of World War II in the Atlantic and highlights tensions on the West Coast...following the attack on Pearl Harbor.”

Providence Journal
“[Offley] reminds us in The Burning Shore that although all the troops who fought in World War II had to cross an ocean first, the war actually did come a lot closer to America. German submariners lurked offshore so close they could see the Coney Island Ferris wheel at night.”

American Spectator
“Offley is a clear and organized writer. His portrayal of events is free of the theorizing that mars the historical works of so many academics. There is no political agenda at work in this clear unfolding of momentous events, made the more immediate by the engaging personal narratives. I like my history straight. With both attention to detail and to story. This is how Ed Offley delivers it.”

Military History
The Burning Shore is a history of those dreadful early months of the war, a history largely suppressed at the time and rarely alluded to since.”

Kirkus
“An authoritative work on the awful, early effectiveness of German U-boats in disrupting shipping traffic off the east coast of the United States.... A knowledgeable overview and exciting re-creation of the final U-701 attack and defeat.”

Publishers Weekly
“Offley, a specialist in underwater operations, evokes the environment of U-boats that were themselves obsolescent – small, cramped, and operating at the limits of their effective range.”

Virginian Pilot
“[Offley’s] been pursuing such Atlantic coast U-boat stories for decades, digging into myriad archives of journals, logbooks, oral histories and more. If Pilot reporter Diane Tennant’s series in 2009 piqued your interest, grab this.”

Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, authors of The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend
“We have a special appreciation for dramatic stories of untold wartime heroism, and Ed Offley’s gripping tale does not disappoint. Veering from the well-worn paths of World War II’s European and Pacific Theaters, Offley’s The Burning Shore breaks new ground in its description of the German U-boat invasion of America’s Eastern Seaboard in 1942, and the courageous efforts by an undermanned United States military to prevent the Nazis from crippling our war efforts in the Atlantic. Bravo.”

Robert Gandt, award-winning author of The Twilight Warriors
“In this deeply human tale from WWII we meet two warriors—a German U-boat commander and an American bomber pilot—whose lives intersected in the dangerous summer of 1942. Ed Offley’s The Burning Shore brings to life the deadly Battle of the Atlantic as Hitler’s U-Boats wreaked destruction along America’s East Coast. Woven into the story are portraits of courage, sacrifice, and, ultimately, friendship between the former adversaries. A welcome addition to the trove of WWII naval history.”

David Poyer, author of The Witness of the Whale and The Cruiser
“An oft-told tale, but Offley, who has spent decades researching it, makes the U-boat war new again by focusing on two central characters – a USAAF bomber pilot and the captain of the German submarine he sank. A terrifying evocation of what can happen when America lets its guard down.”

From the Publisher

Kirkus
“An authoritative work on the awful, early effectiveness of German U-boats in disrupting shipping traffic off the east coast of the United States.... A knowledgeable overview and exciting re-creation of the final U-701 attack and defeat.”

Publishers Weekly
“Offley, a specialist in underwater operations, evokes the environment of U-boats that were themselves obsolescent – small, cramped, and operating at the limits of their effective range.”

Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, authors of The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend
“We have a special appreciation for dramatic stories of untold wartime heroism, and Ed Offley’s gripping tale does not disappoint. Veering from the well-worn paths of World War II’s European and Pacific Theaters, Offley’s The Burning Shore breaks new ground in its description of the German U-boat invasion of America’s Eastern Seaboard in 1942, and the courageous efforts by an undermanned United States military to prevent the Nazis from crippling our war efforts in the Atlantic. Bravo.”

Robert Gandt, award-winning author of The Twilight Warriors
“In this deeply human tale from WWII we meet two warriors—a German U-boat commander and an American bomber pilot—whose lives intersected in the dangerous summer of 1942. Ed Offley’s The Burning Shore brings to life the deadly Battle of the Atlantic as Hitler’s U-Boats wreaked destruction along America’s East Coast. Woven into the story are portraits of courage, sacrifice, and, ultimately, friendship between the former adversaries. A welcome addition to the trove of WWII naval history.”

David Poyer, author of The Witness of the Whale and The Cruiser
“An oft-told tale, but Offley, who has spent decades researching it, makes the U-boat war new again by focusing on two central characters – a USAAF bomber pilot and the captain of the German submarine he sank. A terrifying evocation of what can happen when America lets its guard down.”

From the Publisher

Military History
The Burning Shore is a history of those dreadful early months of the war, a history largely suppressed at the time and rarely alluded to since.”

Kirkus
“An authoritative work on the awful, early effectiveness of German U-boats in disrupting shipping traffic off the east coast of the United States.... A knowledgeable overview and exciting re-creation of the final U-701 attack and defeat.”

Publishers Weekly
“Offley, a specialist in underwater operations, evokes the environment of U-boats that were themselves obsolescent – small, cramped, and operating at the limits of their effective range.”

Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, authors of The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend
“We have a special appreciation for dramatic stories of untold wartime heroism, and Ed Offley’s gripping tale does not disappoint. Veering from the well-worn paths of World War II’s European and Pacific Theaters, Offley’s The Burning Shore breaks new ground in its description of the German U-boat invasion of America’s Eastern Seaboard in 1942, and the courageous efforts by an undermanned United States military to prevent the Nazis from crippling our war efforts in the Atlantic. Bravo.”

Robert Gandt, award-winning author of The Twilight Warriors
“In this deeply human tale from WWII we meet two warriors—a German U-boat commander and an American bomber pilot—whose lives intersected in the dangerous summer of 1942. Ed Offley’s The Burning Shore brings to life the deadly Battle of the Atlantic as Hitler’s U-Boats wreaked destruction along America’s East Coast. Woven into the story are portraits of courage, sacrifice, and, ultimately, friendship between the former adversaries. A welcome addition to the trove of WWII naval history.”

David Poyer, author of The Witness of the Whale and The Cruiser
“An oft-told tale, but Offley, who has spent decades researching it, makes the U-boat war new again by focusing on two central characters – a USAAF bomber pilot and the captain of the German submarine he sank. A terrifying evocation of what can happen when America lets its guard down.”

Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-16
An authoritative work on the awful, early effectiveness of German U-boats in disrupting shipping traffic off the east coast of the United States. Having written previously on the Battle of the Atlantic (Turning the Tide, 2011, etc.), military reporter Offley focuses on a short, early period of World War II—in particular, one lethally effective U-boat that caused massive devastation along the rich hunting ground of the North Carolina coast. During the course of the first six months of 1942—a period the Germans blithely referred to as der Glückliche Zeit, or halcyon days—a cluster of German U-boats marauded along the U.S. Atlantic shore, strangling the shipping lifeline to Britain, sinking scores of Allied merchant vessels, totaling more than 1 million tons of cargo, especially oil, and killing thousands of seamen. As part of a major expansion of his U-boat force, Vice Admiral Karl Dönitz, using the newly refurbished bunker at Saint-Nazaire and other occupied French ports as launch pads, resolved to sever Atlantic maritime trading routes, which fed British fighting power. The Germans drew on their experience from World War I while taking advantage of American inexperience and ill-preparedness in the first days after the confusion of Pearl Harbor. Lt. Cmdr. Horst Degen's U-701 made three patrols during this period, the last encompassing a mine-laying operation in the Chesapeake Bay and numerous sinkings of oil tankers near Cape Hatteras, before U-701 was hit fatally by Lt. Harry Kane's aircraft depth chargers on July 7. Offley brings up the other factors that came into play for the U.S. Navy, such as the breaking of the Enigma code, interservice rivalry, taking advice from the more seasoned British, and garnering the necessary higher-level support for a convoy escort system and more effective patrol bombers. A knowledgeable overview and exciting re-creation of the final U-701 attack and defeat.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465029617
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 3/25/2014
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 66,841
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Ed Offley

Ed Offley has been a military reporting specialist since 1981 for newspapers and online publications. Author of Scorpion Down and Turning the Tide and a graduate of the University of Virginia, Offley served in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. He lives in Panama City Beach, Florida with his wife, Karen Conrad.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2014

    Mr. Offley does an incredible job with The Burning Shore, clearl

    Mr. Offley does an incredible job with The Burning Shore, clearly adding to the documentation of World War II. Unfortunately, the U-boat
    part of the war is frequently lost but Offley creatively tells its story in a very unique way. He does this through two characters--a young
    German U-boat commander and a young U.S. aviator who becomes a U-boat hunter. Offley's work reflects an unbelievable amount of research and detail. Historians should express their appreciation and gratitude to
    Offley for his extraordinary efforts. This very accurate, credible and fascinating work can--and should--be justifiably added to the best
    documentations of the war. The book is a "must read" for those who are interested in World War II. Tom JurkowskyRear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2014

    I truly enjoyed reading what really happened to the USA months b

    I truly enjoyed reading what really happened to the USA months before the USA entered the second world war.
    Serving as a U-boat sailor would have been impossible for me.  I don't like close quarters.Mr Offley  got it right about how the USA was able
     with the history of the war.  

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  • Posted May 21, 2014

    This book was a joy to read. I read the whole book in a single

    This book was a joy to read. I read the whole book in a single setting. It is well written, flows well and the story pulls you to the next page. The combination of WWII facts tied to the relationship between sworn enemies adds that extra level of intrigue that makes it most exciting. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in some of the lesser know actions during the war.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2014

    Lifetime of Memories- Author note

    Hey guys. Dj Sparkes say that I am continuing this story!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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