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History records few more gripping dramas than the naval history of World War II. It was the last great sea war, but in the half century since the final battles of that struggle, the conflict has receded into the past. Narvik, the Battle of the Atlantic, Midway, and the Philippine Sea are to the current generation as remote as Waterloo and Gettysburg. In War at Sea, Nathan Miller brings the story of these monumental events—and the achievements, suffering, and heroism of those who served at sea during World War II—to the attention of readers who have only a nodding acquaintance with it. In doing so, he illuminates in dramatic fashion the costly mistakes and the blunders, the great skill and courage of the Allied commanders, tactical leaders, and enlisted men that denied the Axis powers victory.
From the sinking of the British passenger liner Athenia on September 3, 1939, by a German U-boat (against orders), to the Japanese surrender on board the Missouri, on September 2, 1945, War at Sea covers every major naval battle of World War II in one fascinating volume. In gripping detail, Miller recounts the major operations of the British, German, American, Japanese, Italian, Canadian, and Russian navies. Based on recently released Ultra intelligence information the Allies procured from their deciphering of coded messages passed by their enemies, ship logs, official reports, interviews with surviving servicemen, and personal accounts and anecdotes from the men who manned the ships and the aircraft, Miller gives a human face to the daily routine of life at sea—from being torpedoed to living in the confines of a submarine for weeks at a time. Miller also details the political and historical backgrounds of each navy and analyzes the strategies of the combatants. He goes on to show how new technology, such as aircraft carriers and submarines, pushed aside the battleship and changed the course of the war and modern warfare.
Too often today, war is viewed as a bloodless computer game complete with "smart" bombs, guided missiles, and "surgical strikes." In reality, war is about death. It is a mixture of boredom, exhaustion, and sudden and terrifying moments of horror. This is particularly true of war at sea. One minute a ship can be steaming peacefully on a calm ocean; in the next it can be ripped apart by torpedoes with its crew fighting for their lives in a cauldron of flaming oil or scalding steam. War at Sea tells the true story of naval warfare during World War II, capturing the drama, suspense, and narrow triumph of the Allied forces in the great battle to secure the seas.
Drawing on intelligence documents, ship logs, official reports, and interviews with surviving servicemen, historian and naval scholar Nathan Miller provides for the first time a comprehensive, popular history of all the sea battles of World War II. 16-page photo insert. 5 maps.
Posted September 22, 2013
If a person is looking for an overview of naval action of WWII this is the book to read. It contains highlights and general strategy of the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, while the author deliberately avoids any detailed descriptions of the ground and air battles. It is well-written using fairly plain language that is well suited for those with a limited background in naval terminology.
The author is American and this is quite evident by the strong biases contained in the book. For instance, there is no mention at all of the important Canadian contribution of over 400 operational vessels throughout the war, and few stories regarding the convoys or the Merchant Marine service. The American commanders are described in a manner that is without reproach, depriving the reader of a true sense of the challenges they faced.
Overall I recommend this book for someone that wants an overview of the naval history in the Second World War and don’t mind reading it from a purely patriotic American perspective. For those looking for a more historically neutral perspective of the naval strategies and actions of the war there are better books available.
Posted September 8, 2010
If you ever wanted to learn more on the Naval History of WWII, this in the book to read. Covering the duration of the war from all sides and theaters of the conflict.
I wish I was able to emphasize how much I love this book. The writing is superb in its ability to capture all of WWII 'War at Sea' in a smooth and readable fashion. Miller also adds numerous informational footnotes that bring the events more depth and realism. He is able to bring the six years of global naval conflict to life wihtout overloading the reader with stats and figures.
I suppose the best plug I can give this book is that; I've read only a few dozen books in my life and I've read this one twice cover to cover, not to mention scanning a chapter over again from time to time.