Academic journal article Naval War College Review

Wolf: U-Boat Commanders in World War II

Academic journal article Naval War College Review

Wolf: U-Boat Commanders in World War II

Article excerpt

Vause, Jordan. Wolf. U-Boat Commanders in World War II. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1997. 249pp. $29.95

Jordan Vause captures the history and tradition of Germany's submarine service through an exemplary analysis of its commanders. Determined to find common threads of character and personality, he begins his narrative with imperial Germany's World War I strategy of unlimited submarine warfare, continues through the murderously effective World War II wolf pack, and concludes with a relevant postmortem on the ultimate tragedy of that war's destructive aftermath. Ironically, rather than proving the existence of a common anima of personal and professional behavior, in the end the author finds that "the man [U-boat commander] was stubborn in eluding any image at all." Nonetheless, the richness of Jordan's research and his comfortable manner of narration perfectly complement the considerable historical value of this book.

Wolf is not a sympathetic treatment of the often relentlessly effective German submarine service (U-Bootwaffe). Vause's success lies in his development of a personal, understanding, and yet incisive portrayal of Germany's World War II U-Bootwaffe commandersuniform, and yet individually unique. Attempting to construct the persona of the Reichmarine's undersea service, Vause functions as a forensic pathologist, largely disproving a propagandist view of savagely efficient automatons bent on mindless slaughter at sea. …

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