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BOOK REVIEW – Merchant Sailors at War 1943 – 1945: Beating the U-Boat

2792_001By Philip Kaplan, Pen & Sword, London, UK (2015)

Reviewed by Charles H. Bogart

Over the years, Pen & Sword have issued a number of Images of War books. This book is sub-titled Merchant Ships at War 1943 – 1945: Beating the U-Boats. The book consists of eight chapters, with each chapter introduced by three to four pages of text. The text provides a basic framework to give context to the photographs. The text consists of contemporary comments, “I was There” action snippets, and modern historical summaries of the war at sea during this period covering action in the North Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, and Mediterranean Sea. Following each chapter’s introduction pages is a section of black and white photographs (124 photos total) and illustrations of World War II posters. About half of the photos and illustrations within the book will be familiar to the student of the war at sea. The remaining photos are truly rare photos found by the author hiding in various Canadian and British archives. The majority of the photos in the book are of Allied ships and men. Each photo is accompanied by its own explanatory paragraph.

The book provides an excellent introduction to the war at sea waged by the Allies against Germany and Italy. All of the books in this series are great starter books for anyone building a library on military actions in World War II. One criticism is that all too often a photo is spread over two pages with detail being lost where the photo sits in the fold.


Charles H Bogart is a frequent reviewer for NHBR.


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