Academic journal article Military Review

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

Academic journal article Military Review

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

Article excerpt

THE BURNING SHORE: How Hitler's U-Boats Brought World War II to America

Ed Offley, Basic Books, New York, 2014, 312 pages, $27.99

It is difficult to imagine that the United States was on the verge of defeat in 1942. The U.S. Navy was reeling from the devastating blow it had experienced at Pearl Harbor. The U.S. Army in the Philippines was weeks away from surrender to Japanese forces when Germany decided to launch Operation Drumbeat, a submarine offense against America's Atlantic Coast. Operation Drumbeat caught America completely unprepared when German submarines struck in early January 1942.

Within three weeks, 15 German submarines destroyed 35 Allied merchant ships and a British destroyer totaling 181,456 gross registered tons, killing 1,219 crewman and passengers, all without the loss of one German submarine. By June 1942, German submarines would operate almost unopposed along our East Coast sinking 226 Allied merchant ships totaling 1,251,650 gross registered tons.

In The Burning Shore, Offley provides a broad historical review of the Battle of the Atlantic, clearly demonstrating how U.S. unpreparedness, incompetency of policy makers, and parochial interservice rivalry proved almost a bigger threat than German submarines in undermining the war effort. …

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