Battle for the North Atlantic: The Strategic Naval Campaign That Won World War II in Europe

By Laurence, Harold | Military Review, September-October 2014 | Go to article overview

Battle for the North Atlantic: The Strategic Naval Campaign That Won World War II in Europe


Laurence, Harold, Military Review


BATTLE FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC: The Strategic Naval Campaign that Won World War II in Europe

John R. Bruning, Zenith Press, Minneapolis, 2013, 300 pages, $40.00

There are no flowers on sailor's graves, No lilies on the ocean waves, The only tributes are seagull sweeps, And the teardrops that his sweetheart weeps. --Anonymous

John Bruning dedicates this book to the compelling sacrifices made by tens of thousands of civilian merchant marine sailors who gave their lives at sea in the Atlantic Ocean to win the war in Europe. The losses taken by these civilians in World War II are rarely acknowledged and it was satisfying to see the honor paid to them. The author points out the merchant mariners lost about 80,000 people in the war, affirming that it may have been safer to join the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II since the loss rate for merchant mariners was higher than that of the marines.

The book is a well-written chronological walkthrough the unfolding of the war in the North Atlantic. It begins with the Kriegsmarine building up force in 1939, and carries us through the war chapter by chapter, highlighting some of the major turning points that alter the course of the battle in the Atlantic. The events covered extend across all levels of war to create a compelling narrative. At the highest level he draws attention to significant Allied events including the meeting of Churchill and FDR to create the Atlantic Charter, and strategic decisions like the commitment of the United States and Britain to supply Stalin in his war effort.

Operational-level details emerge too. The changes to convoy operations are discussed as are the German operation plans as they evolved to press for German dominance of the Allied supply lines. …

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