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Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters, 1939-1942

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  407 ratings  ·  38 reviews
"His monumental the most thorough study of the U-boat campaign available."    --Library Journal

Hitler's U-boat War is an epic sea story about the most arduous and prolonged naval battle in history. For a period of nearly six years, the German U-boat force attempted to blockade and isolate the British Isles in hopes of forcing the British out of the war, thereby
Paperback, 864 pages
Published June 6th 2000 by Modern Library (first published October 22nd 1996)
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Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
If this book had been any easier to read I would have given it a five. As it is the word defenitive comes to mind. The author takes great pains to talk about U-boat sailing and their kills, failures and losses. As one person mentioned, he almost takes account of every torpedo fired.

This book covers two parts of the war, in fact this is the first of two books of generally equal size, the first is the U-boat war against England at the beginning of the war while England stood alone. The second
Robert A. Babcock
Apr 27, 2012 rated it liked it
This book is an excellent history of German U-boat activities during the first part of WWII, but excellent history doesn't always result in enjoyable reading. My lower rating is not due to the historical quality of the book, which I consider to be excellent, but rather to the fact that I didn't particularly enjoy reading it. This deficiency is not the author's fault: it is, I think, an inevitable result of his detailed adherence to the historical record.

For enjoyment of reading I'm giving it a
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At long last, I am finishedbut this book is only half the story! Seven hundred pages takes you from the first hesitant start of German submarine warfare in WWII to the slaughter off American shores in 1942. This book definitely gets 5 Stars in honor of his superb scholarship in telling the first 3 years of Hitlers Uboat War. If there was ever a book that can be defined as authoritative, comprehensive and meticulous, Hitler's U-Boat War: the Hunters, 1939-1942 has to be in that category. It is a ...more
After reading "Silent Victory" by Clay Blair, I was interested in seeing what his take on the war against the German U-Boats would be. Well, he didn't disappoint. Based on exhaustive research, he's woven together American, British, German, Canadian and Italian records (probably a few others as well) to form a fascinating chronicle of this pivotal World War II campaign. While he downplays assertions about the U-Boats almost bringing Britain to her knees, he does provide the reader with lots of ...more
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
As a long-time WWII amateur historian, Ive had a deep interest in understanding the course of the war militarily. One of the critical campaigns in the war was the Battle of the Atlantic. A key question about that campaign has been whether the Germans could have cut off British merchant shipping and, in doing so, forced the United Kingdom into starvation and surrender. Clay Blairs answer is a firm no; the Germans never even came close.

He provides this answer in a 1400-page two volume account, the
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of data...fascinating history

I must admit that I knew nothing about the submarine war. I thought I did, but I was wrong. This book is a lot of data, the author goes almost boat by boat and sinking by sinking. I learned a lot about the entire first three years and how chaotic it was on both sides. A great book for someone who really likes the details.
Bill Taylor
Aug 01, 2019 rated it liked it
This massive volume covers the German U Boat war through 9-1-1942. It is meticulously researched, brimming with data on the U Boats, allied AWS capabilities and efforts, the code-breaking efforts of both sides, etc. Furthermore the author periodically summarizes and evaluates both the German and Allied efforts at various stages of the U Boat war and also ties in decisions by both sides with the larger military situation of the global conflict. Most of the narrative recounts the patrols of ...more
Arthur Sperry
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a huge and meticulously researched book about the U-Boats and their patrols during the first part of WWII. It took me forever to read, but I have always been fascinated by submarines since growing up not far from the base near New London, Connecticut. This book is called "The Hunters" and the sequel is called "The Hunted" and I bet is equally detailed. Not an easy book to read, but very interesting if you like submarine lore. I plan to read the sequel.
Mark Adams
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you like historical material about WWII era U-boats, and I do, this is a terrific book. I'll also mention the companion volume Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted, 1942-1945. It's comprehensive and compiles the available documentation on the subject into a cohesive narrative that draws the reader along through the conflict in the Atlantic. It's one of the most educational things I've read.
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Monumental massively thorough work. Only for those who are serious about history but if you are, it is so well worth it.
Nishant Pappireddi
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A comprehensive book on the first half of the Battle of the Atlantic.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"His monumental the most thorough study of the U-boat campaign available." --"Library Journal" Hitler's U-boat War is an epic sea story about the most arduous and prolonged naval battle in history. For a period of nearly six years, the German U-boat force attempted to blockade and isolate the British Isles in hopes of forcing the British out of the war, thereby thwarting both the Allied strategic air assault on German cities and Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Occupied ...more
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, history, wwii
Twenty one years after publishing Silent Victory, his history of US submarine warfare against Japan, Clay Blair published this first volume of his history of German submarine warfare against the Allies.

Like his earlier work, this is a comprehensive history of the conflict, written in such a way as to remain engaging despite largely being a repetitive listing of the records of various u-boat voyages. Unlike his earlier work, he was able to call on extensive records from both sides of the
Nov 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Comprehensive. Clearly the book you need to have as a reference on this topic, complete with many tables and lists of facts. Of course, owing to the desire to be comprehensive, both volumes of Blair's work had to be formulaic. If you read through both volumes (Hunters and Hunted) you will have gone through 1400 pages of boats and u-boats going to the bottom of the Atlantic. Blair is at his best when taking a stance against other historian's claims of the relative danger posed by the u-boats, and ...more
Bill V
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author is a good writer but the material is very tedious with so many names and ships and so many encounters between U-boats and allied vessels being a variation of the same narrative; U-boat sights ship, U-boats sinks ship, U-boat is attacked by escorts. After a while the encounters blur one into another. One detail I was surprised not to find in the book was the British commando raid at St Nazaire. The U-boats were a secondary target for the commandos and to not at least describe the raid ...more
Todd G
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This will be short and sweet. This was an absolute gold mine of stats, most of which became very difficult to track so I, at some point, ended up zipping past them in favor of the talk about strategy and other historical occurrences. I certainly have come to better appreciate this aspect of WWII to the point where I'll be reading more about it. I plan on picking up books about the life aboard the boats and the lives of some of the more famous characters such as Kretschmer and Dönitz.

This is a
Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Blair does it again in this weighty tome, this first half of an enormous two book set, this time chronicling (again dryly, but somehow more interesting) account of the German Navy's U-Boats (don't call them submarines, they weren't) in their harsh and excessively crude, ultimately suicidal battle. What do we learn from this book? Contrary to popular opinion and myth, the Germans never came close. Not many people know that. Blair claims that something like 98 or 99% of every convoy that left ...more
Michael Romo
Sep 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The complete saga of the U-boat war up to 1942. Blair speaks frankly about the use of technology and Ultra intelligence to combat the U-boats. The majority of the book covers the U-boat war against the British Empire, especially significant here is the contribution of Ultra and the Canadian Navy. Book 2 deals with the U-boat war against the Americas. He makes interesting comments on the American and British naval staffs differing on the strategic role of allied sea power in the Atlantic. This is ...more
Yong Lee
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
An exhaustive masterpiece that debunk long held myth about U Boat invincibility. With a keen eye, exhaustive research, and a much needed strategic perspective, Blair has written, in my view, the definitive history of the Battle of the Atlantic. Blair has long been a personal favorite, as it was his history of the US submarine war in the pacific, Silent Victory and Combat Patrol, which first kindled my interest in naval history.
This is the first part on U-Boats of World War II by Clay Blair. Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted, 1942-1945 is the second part where the "hunters" became the "hunted".

If you want to read a definitive account on U-Boats, these two volumes would be it.
Feb 04, 2008 marked it as to-read
This is likely about as far as I'm going to get in this one. Not a completely serious, devoted effort, not as this books subject and meticulously detailed research, along with the men who manned submarines in WW2, deserve. Ive tried to order the sequel twice: The 1st book quite easy to obtain, the second ridiculously expensive and almost impossible to obtain. So Ive shelved this one for further research at a later date, much. ...more
Oct 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Blair's book about "the happy times" for U-boat crews is well and exhaustively written. The exhaustive part is what keeps the book from being a five-star read. It is the ultimate reference tool, but its very detail makes it a hard slog of a read sometimesHaving said that, i look forward to the second volume ("The Hunted").
Grant Kisling
Dec 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
As other reviews have mentioned, this is a tough book to rate. It does an amazing of detailing all of the evebents of the German uboat force from the beginning to 1942. While interesting for numerous parts and great commentary about the force in general, it makes for a long and repetitive read.

Recommended only for people with patience and a real interest.
Fredrick Danysh
Dec 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, world-war-ii
During the first half of the Second World War, German u-boats gained control of the Atlantic Ocean on the Gulf Coast. The author examines German ship production and the effectiveness of submarine operations.
Oliver Barry
Dec 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Really great book. Every thing you'd ever want to know about the Battle of the Atlantic. Includes how things got started, where everyone was before September 1939.
Goes with Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted.
Roger Thomas
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing

While a number of professionals at the U-boat archive did not like this book I enjoyed it and saw only minor omissions, Time will settle the fine disputes but this certainly better than the current found of historical fiction.

Rachael W
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ask me about U-boats. Vol 1.
Roger Brown
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Not for everyone, but for those interested in the Atlantic War of WWII this is the best source on U-Boat campaigns.
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Thorough, but this is needs more structure to be readable.
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Clay Blair, Jr. was an American historian, best known for his books on military history. Born in Lexington, Virginia, he served on the fleet submarine Guardfish (SS-217) in World War II and later wrote for Time and Life magazines before becoming editor-in-chief of The Saturday Evening Post. He assisted General Omar Bradley in the writing of his autobiography, A General's Life (1983), published ...more

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