The book suffers so many things that a guiding publisher could have corrected or improved on. – Assuming that the author was receptive, of course, and I have no reason to suspect that he wasn’t.
The book is published by Frontline books, which is an imprint of Pen & Sword. I’m not Pen & Sword’s greatest fan by any means, and this book contains the typical ‘faults’ I’ve highlighted in the past and then a few more.
The author is American, and I didn’t warm to his style of writing in the slightest. However, I’ve never read a comprehensive history of the Atlantic war against the U-Boats, so I did persevere. Unfortunately, I found the author’s approach pompous, supercilious, and patronising. Maybe it’s just me being overly sensitive, but I had the feeling that he was constantly sniping at the British and telling us just how good the Americans are. I recognise that my view is subjective and that might not be the intent, so I’ll leave that point there.
On the positive side, I have to say that the author is obviously very well-read on the topic, as evidenced by the extensive pages of notes (30) and bibliography, but I found I was fighting to extract much of the information in a meaningful form. Many years ago, I read a Time-Life book on the history of every U-Boat that Germany produced, the information just flowed off the pages. This book ought to have been the same.
The layout of the chapters (19 in total) is chronological, and the author attempts to detail the relevant interactions between the Allies and U-Boats during the period. It just didn’t work for me. A typical example of what frustrated me would be that the author would be talking about aircraft speeds in MPH, then switch to knots per hour in the same sentence. There may well be a good reason why he did this, but I can’t see one and I was constantly converting between the two for consistency.
As is often the case with Pen & Sword, a few pages of photographs are placed in the centre of the book. The photographs are of reasonable quality, but in truth few of them are particularly useful. I get the feeling that some photographs were added purely to pack the section out to an economical printing size rather than to add something meaningful.
Sadly, that indirectly brings me to my next grumble. The text is crammed very densely on each page, making a very unappealing proposition to the reader. White space is important, it’s far less daunting and off-putting to the reader when there is space around the text. Again, I suspect that this is down to the publisher’s wish to keep his costs under control, but really, some judicious editing could have gained him the freedom he needed to make the pages more welcoming without adding to the page count.
The RRP for the book is £25, and it is currently discounted to £19.15 on Amazon, which I grudgingly recognise is not too bad for a book that will keep you occupied for a few evenings.
I’ll run to 3 anchors on this book, the information is all in there, but I didn’t appreciate having to work so hard to get to it.