War at Sea; A Naval History of World War II / Edition 1

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Lively, informative, and richly textured....Well-researched and well-written, this is both an excellent reference volume and an engaging naval history that is a pleasure to read."—Sea Power

"Finally, a one-volume naval history of World War II that does justice to the enormous scope and detail of the subject. Entertaining, insightful, and a damn good read."—James F. Dunnigan, author of A Quick and Dirty Guide to War and How to Make War

"The general reader and specialist alike should set aside Samuel Eliot Morison and all the others and just devour Nathan Miller's classic tale of the navies of World War II."—Kenneth J. Hagan, U.S. Naval Academy and author of This People's Navy: The Making of American Sea Power

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With authoritative analysis, and in one volume, Miller majestically relates the history of the last great sea war for the general reader, from the sinking of the passenger ship Athenia on September 3, 1939, to the surrender ceremony aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945. The battle to secure the seas was the one campaign fought from the beginning of the conflict to its conclusion. The narrative covers the major operations of the American, British, Canadian, Soviet, German, Japanese and Italian navies, with recollections by those who manned the ships and planes. Miller's sweeping version of the Battle of the Atlantic-German U-boats versus Allied convoys-confirms that victory went to the Allies when American shipyards succeeded in producing merchant vessels faster than the Germans could sink them. His compelling account of the turning-point Battle of Midway reveals how the supremacy of carrier aircraft as the decisive factor in modern naval warfare was established. Miller is the author of FDR: An Intimate History. History Book Club main selection; BOMC alternate. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Miller, whose book The U.S. Navy: An Illustrated History (Morrow, 1990. rev. ed.) is used as a text at the Naval Academy, has written a book that is as captivating and intriguing as a novel. It tells all sides of the history of naval warfare during World War II. Each chapter deals with a specific campaign or policy. A positive point of the work is that Miller didn't write a sanitized history. He clearly presents mistakes, both good and bad, and good or bad judgment from all sides. Extensive footnotes provide additional information, anecdotes, and clarifications of official accounts. Essential for libraries dealing with military and American history and highly recomended for other libraries.-Terry Wirick, Erie Cty. Lib. System, Pa.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195110388
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/1997
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 608
  • Sales rank: 785,770
  • Product dimensions: 9.19 (w) x 6.06 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Nathan Miller, a journalist, historian, and naval scholar, is the author of twelve books of history and biography, including The U.S. Navy: A History, which is used as a textbook at the U.S. Naval Academy, and the widely acclaimed Theodore Roosevelt: A Life. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 5, 2015

    more from this reviewer

    This is epic history it the old-fashioned narrative style.If you

    This is epic history it the old-fashioned narrative style.If you have ever read S. E. Morison's The Two Ocean War, you will enjoy this book.Nathan Miller takes us both into the top level meetings and on the sinking ships and landing craft under fire with terrified sailors and soldiers who still manage to be heroes. He also draws attention to the role of air power, especially in the Pacific. I would partially agree with another reviewer who accuses him of a US bias, but I don't see him ignoring the faults and flaws of American commanders. It does seem to me that Miller did not do much original research, but he seems to have mined an impressive number of sources. To cover such a huge topic in slightly over 500 pages is no mean feat.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2013

    If a person is looking for an overview of naval action of WWII t

    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.

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  • Posted September 8, 2010

    Great Read and Re-Read

    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.

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