History records few more gripping dramas than the naval history of World War II. It was the last great sea war, but in the half century since the final battles of that struggle, the conflict has receded into the past. Narvik, the Battle of the Atlantic, Midway, and the Philippine Sea are to the current generation as remote as Waterloo and Gettysburg. In War at Sea, Nathan Miller brings the story of these monumental eventsand the achievements, suffering, and heroism of those who served at sea during World War IIto the attention of readers who have only a nodding acquaintance with it. In doing so, he illuminates in dramatic fashion the costly mistakes and the blunders, the great skill and courage of the Allied commanders, tactical leaders, and enlisted men that denied the Axis powers victory.
From the sinking of the British passenger liner Athenia on September 3, 1939, by a German U-boat (against orders), to the Japanese surrender on board the Missouri, on September 2, 1945, War at Sea covers every major naval battle of World War II in one fascinating volume. In gripping detail, Miller recounts the major operations of the British, German, American, Japanese, Italian, Canadian, and Russian navies. Based on recently released Ultra intelligence information the Allies procured from their deciphering of coded messages passed by their enemies, ship logs, official reports, interviews with surviving servicemen, and personal accounts and anecdotes from the men who manned the ships and the aircraft, Miller gives a human face to the daily routine of life at seafrom being torpedoed to living in the confines of a submarine for weeks at a time. Miller also details the political and historical backgrounds of each navy and analyzes the strategies of the combatants. He goes on to show how new technology, such as aircraft carriers and submarines, pushed aside the battleship and changed the course of the war and modern warfare.
Too often today, war is viewed as a bloodless computer game complete with "smart" bombs, guided missiles, and "surgical strikes." In reality, war is about death. It is a mixture of boredom, exhaustion, and sudden and terrifying moments of horror. This is particularly true of war at sea. One minute a ship can be steaming peacefully on a calm ocean; in the next it can be ripped apart by torpedoes with its crew fighting for their lives in a cauldron of flaming oil or scalding steam. War at Sea tells the true story of naval warfare during World War II, capturing the drama, suspense, and narrow triumph of the Allied forces in the great battle to secure the seas.
With authoritative analysis, and in one volume, Miller majestically relates the history of the last great sea war for the general reader, from the sinking of the passenger ship Athenia on September 3, 1939, to the surrender ceremony aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945. The battle to secure the seas was the one campaign fought from the beginning of the conflict to its conclusion. The narrative covers the major operations of the American, British, Canadian, Soviet, German, Japanese and Italian navies, with recollections by those who manned the ships and planes. Miller's sweeping version of the Battle of the Atlantic-German U-boats versus Allied convoys-confirms that victory went to the Allies when American shipyards succeeded in producing merchant vessels faster than the Germans could sink them. His compelling account of the turning-point Battle of Midway reveals how the supremacy of carrier aircraft as the decisive factor in modern naval warfare was established. Miller is the author of FDR: An Intimate History. History Book Club main selection; BOMC alternate. (Sept.)