Critically acclaimed military historian Peter Padfield has created the definitive account of one of the most turbulent—and crucial—chapters of World War II. Sweeping from the frigid waters of the North Atlantic to the steaming South Pacific, War Beneath the Sea is a riveting chronicle of submarine warfare. It is the first book to cover all the major submarine campaigns of the war, describing, in detail, the operations of the British, American, Japanese, Italian, and German submarine and anti-submarine forces.
Beginning with a vivid re-creation of the sinking of the passenger liner Athenia by a German U-boat in September 1939, Padfield's compelling narrative casts an unflinching eye on the devastating consequences of maritime warfare. The often harrowing encounters unfold with urgency and power, balanced by a master historian's keen sense of objectivity and perspective.
The submariners belonged to an elite corps, young men attracted by new technology, less formal discipline, and prospects of early promotion. For crew members, life aboard a sub was both an emotional and a physical challenge. The extraordinary hardships they endured—as well as their courage—come across with tremendous force.
Exploring the full spectrum of the submarine and antisubmarine warfare experience, this brilliantly detailed account pulls no punches. Facts and figures that stagger the imagination (e.g., between 1939 and 1945, 40,000 men were trained for U-boat service—30,000 perished) are revealed in starkly human terms. Here is the shocking truth behind the failure of U.S. torpedo missions during the war's early years, along with startling accounts of the shooting of defenseless warriors in the water. Here, too, is new information about the capture of the famed Enigma cipher machine (including previously unpublished photographs), and its impact on the war effort. Until this decisive moment, Britain stood within a hairbreadth of defeat by Germany.
Disturbing questions abound: Did the inflexible attitudes of the Japanese and American military leaders prolong the war in the Pacific? Could the war have been ended before Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Padfield addresses these controversial issues with candor and insight. The result is not only an impressive achievement, but a milestone work in the history of the twentieth century.
Praise for War Beneath the Sea
"I am truly filled with awe and admiration...fascinating and a great contribution to the entire lore of submarines.... I wish I had written the book." —Capt. Edward L. Beach, USN (Ret.) author of Run Silent, Run Deep
"Peter Padfield is the best British naval historian of his generation now working. [His] book...will now become the standard work on the subject." —Daily Telegraph (London)
"Peter Padfield has produced by far the best and most complete critical history of the submarine operations of all the combatants in the Second World War, at the same time providing vivid narrative accounts of particular actions and events." —Lloyd's List (London)