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The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler's U-boats

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3.80  ·  Rating details ·  1,204 ratings  ·  245 reviews
“Vividly drawn and emotionally gripping."
—Daniel James Brown, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat

One of the last unheralded heroic stories of World War II: the U-boat assault off the American coast against the men of the U.S. Merchant Marine who were supplying the European war, and one community’s monumental contribution to that effort


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Kindle Edition, 393 pages
Published April 19th 2016 by Penguin Books
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Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2, the-sea
”The U.S. Merchant Marine’s fatality rate in World War II was approximately 3.9 percent---one of every 26 mariners who sailed on a merchant ship. The only branch of the U.S. military with a comparably high fatality rate was the U.S. Marines. The casualty rate for the U.S. Navy was 1.49 percent---less than half the casualty rate of the Merchant Marine.”

 photo Merchant20Seamen_zpsbkufz6bn.jpg

All a man from Mathews County, Virginia, had to do to get a job on a ship was to mention to the person in charge of hiring where he was born.
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Marla
I found this book very interesting. I had no idea there were that many German U-Boats on the coast of the U.S. and in the Caribbean. It's shocking how many ships were sunk by the U-Boats and the US Government took their time with convoys to help these merchant marines. A lot of the ship captains were from the same family and from the same small community of Mathews County, Virginia. It shocked me how these men would be torpedoed, abandon ship, survive in a lifeboat and then go back out again. Th ...more
Andrew
Jan 06, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book let down by its subtitle. Because while these seven intrepid brothers do appear, this isn't their story.

Instead, it's the story of Matthews County as a whole and the inordinate number of men they sent down to the sea, who had ships torpedoed from under them, who didn't all return, and who seem to have seen every port in the world on their travels.

There's not a great deal of narrative here apart from the arc of the war. Instead it's a litany of sinkings and bravery. Of close calls an
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Scott
Popular culture in America generally teaches World War II using the 'highlights' method - we invariably skip from Pearl Harbor to D-Day, glossing over the almost three-year gap between the two events. "The Mathews Men," by William Geroux, performs the valuable service of reminding us that America's rising to the juggernaut that won WWII required a herculean labor and tremendous sacrifice.

"TMM" focuses on the good people of Mathews County, Virginia, a marshy lost point on the Chesapeake Bay. Math
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Donna
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, wwii
I've had this book for a while and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. This was Nonfiction WWII Military History. It is a book about the men from Mathews county, Virginia. It seemed like the best living for the male population in this county was at sea, leaving the women at home to raise the children and grow the food.

During WWII, the number of deaths at sea is a staggering number. The U-boats were deadly. The men who were considered to be merchant marines were also considered to be vo
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Nancy Oakes


If you'll pardon the expression, WWII history involving U-boats and battles at sea just isn't in my wheelhouse, but this book is a wee bit different. First of all, it focuses on the Merchant Marine and its involvement in the war, which I knew nothing about and second, the people highlighted in this book are rather unique -- they're all from one small, isolated county in Virginia on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. It was a place where, as one man who grew up there noted, "You farmed, you
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Lynn Pribus
Jul 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book on CD for me on several levels (and a much longer review than usual). We used to live on the Poquoson River, not all that many miles south of Mathews. But also interesting for the new information (to me) about U-boats and WWII. Lots of oh-wow stats that I haven't completely retained since I often listen in bed so can't jot things down.

I had never known just how active U-boats were off our coast, for example. Vessels were torpedoed and people ashore in Cape May and Virginia Be
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Beth
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
William Geroux has written a totally eye-opening book about the history of The Mathews Men and the Merchant Marines. It not only tells the story of a small county in Mathews Virginia and it’s heritage with the sea, it also tells how WWII forever changed the lives of the families living there.

It’s the forgotten story of how the men from Mathews Virginia took to the sea to support their families as their forefathers had done. It’s the forgotten story of how they worked their way up to become Capta
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Tom
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent first book for the author. The story takes place during the period of 1942 to the end of WWII. William Geroux brings to life the story of the men who risked their lives in Merchant Marine, delivering cargo in the shadow of Hitler's U-Boats.
The book follows the lives of seven brothers, their extended families and friends from Mathews County, Virginia.
It was especially interesting to find out about the U-Boat activities along the east coast and the Caribbean.
I highly recomm
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Twobchelm
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fact filled book full of interesting stories. The Merchant Marines played such an important part in supplying our allies in WWII but were not valued as part of the military. The German U-boats sinking their ships all along the Atlantic. In the year 1943 approximately 548 ships lay on the ocean floor and 3000 sailors were dead. With more joining the force and devising the concept of the convoy greatly improved their missions. It was something I knew very little about in WWII.
JD
Apr 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well research book detailing the role the men of Mathews County, Virginia played during the World War 2 in the Merchant Marine. It is a very informative book about the role Merchant Mariners played during the war and very interesting. Would recommend it to anyone looking to learn about this part of World War 2.
Allison Anderson Armstrong
Though I didn't know anything about Matthews, Virginia before reading this book, I found myself getting very interested in this book as U-boat combat is a terrifyingly fascinating subject to me. It was interesting to learn about many US merchant ships that were sadly sunk, and hundreds in the gulf of Mexico area. Lots of interesting accounts of fear, bravery, sorrow, and victory.
Kay
An Underappreciated but Important Force in WWII

In The Mathews Men, William Geroux presents a vivid reassessment of the role the Merchant Marine played during World War II. Largely unheralded, these merchant seamen served aboard vessels plying routes up and down the U.S. Coast, across the Atlantic, and to ports as far away as Murmansk and Sri Lanka. Their ships carried essential war materials, troops, food, medical supplies, oil, and every other conceivable item needed for the war effort. In our
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Anthony
December 12, 2016
A Review by Anthony T. Riggio of the book “The Mathews Men” by William Geroux

I ordered this book in hardbound, form Amazon, because it was a history book and one I wanted in my library. It told the valiant yet unheralded story of the men of the US Merchant Marine Service story during time of World War II. I thought it was a significant story and a worthy read because of where most of the players were from, namely Mathews County Virginia.

Mathews County Virginia, especially during
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Karyl
When we think of World War II, we remember things like the Holocaust, the Nazi death camps, the Allied landing at Normandy, the war in the Pacific, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We mourn all those people lost, both military and civilian, but we may not know how many men died in the service of the Merchant Marines, trying to get troops, cargo, food, and supplies to various ports overseas. These men, while not part of the US military, were an necessary link in the supply chain. However, ...more
Exanimis
I received this book through a goodreads give away.
When I received this book in the mail I was first struck by the fact that it is a beautifully bound hardback book, I had expected a paperback.
I am not a historian or much of a history buff but I have had a fascination with submarines since the first time I saw Das Boot. When I read that this giveaway was for a book about U-Boats I entered the giveaway. I had heard before that German subs had been seen off the coast of America during WWII but I h
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Beth
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I chose to read this book because my father was in the Merchant Marine, promoted to Captain and then ran US Lines shipping operations during World War II. Also I chose it because a friend had a grandfather sea captain from Mathews and we had been to a church cemetery in Mathews together years ago.

it is wonderful that William Geroux dedicated the time and energy to writing this little known story, not just of men from the Mathews, Virginia area, but of the heroism many men faced while in the mer
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Paul Pessolano
Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The Mathews Men” by William Geroux, published by Viking.

Category – History/World War II Publication Date – April 19, 2016.

Any student of history and World War II must pick up this book. It is an amazing story that very few, if any, people know about.

Many books have been written about World War II and have expounded on the feats of the United States Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Army, however does anyone know about the contribution and sacrifices made by the Merchant Marine. In a small county, M
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Jeffrey
This is an interesting and very readable look at a little-known aspect of World War II - the civilian mariners who kept the Allied armies and navies supplied. They remain unsung heroes of the war. While this book brings to light their courageous service, it also reveals the terrible sacrifice in lives paid by merchant mariners and their families. As much as this book shines a spotlight on character traits we admire - dedication, perseverance, selflessness, duty - it's not the kind of book that w ...more
Marissa
Well... I liked the content of this book - I love WWII history and this book showed me an aspect of the war that I hadn't thought about much. I liked learning about the Merchant Marine and theU-boat war. It was very interesting. But I felt a little deceived by the secondary title - the part that says its about 7 brothers and the battle against U-boats. This book is about all of the merchant marines from the county of Mathews Virginia - while the tales of the most 7 Hodges brothers were told, it ...more
Jenny Belk
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book from Goodreads. This is my honest review.
I am a fan of World War II stories and all the history involved with it. The Mathews Men were Merchant Marines from a Virginia County who joined the war effort to protect the U.S. Shores and supplied our Allied forces with urgent supplies of food and munitions. I found the book very informative about this part of the war that I was unfamiliar with. In particular, it is the story of 7 brothers, the Hodges who fought gallantly and at g
...more
Tess Mertens-Johnson
Mathews is a county in West Virginia and this book is about the many men who in the merchant marines gave their lives in WWII. It focuses on one family of seven brothers and the neighbor who all experienced U Boat attacks.
Hitler ‘s U boat wanted the merchant marine boats to sink and made it his mission to take down as many as possible. The Mathews men sailed all around the world and their experiences are chronicled in this book.
Some came home, some were lost as sea, but all were heroes.
I loved e
...more
Carol
Jun 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surprisingly I enjoyed this true story about U Boats and the devastation they cause right off the Atlantic coast of the United States. The story centers around Mathews County, Virginia and the men who manned the merchant ships and lost their lives feeding and supplying America and the troops with all the things needed to live. I was totally unaware of how close the U Boats came to US shores and sometimes even landed men and sailed in the mouth of the Mississippi. It was totally eye opening and s ...more
Jennifer McMurtrie
This book opened my eyes to a part of WWII I knew nothing about. It is a good read topic wise, however I wasn't too keen with the writing style of the book. There were a few instances where I felt I read the same story 2-3 times. I would recommend this book to learn more about the Merchant Marine's role during WWII and the war's impact on Mathew's County.
Jerel Wilmore
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a great read for anyone with ties to Virginia Watermen and the Chesapeake Bay. It tells the story of Mathews County, Virginia in World War Two and how the seamen of that county kept the supplies the Allies needed flowing despite the lethal threat of German U-boats.
Cathy
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned so much from this book about the Merchant Marines and the U-boats during World War II. I never knew about any of this; I especially didn't know that ships were being blown up right in the Caribbean and off the U.S. coast. It is especially appalling to me that no Navy convoys were sent to escort and protect these ships -- so vital for trading and for providing supplies to the Allies -- until after many mariners' lives were lost and many ships destroyed. It is also a disgrace that the U. ...more
Kelley
Feb 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't like this as much as I had thought I would, but it did keep my attention and I learned quite a bit about a variety of subjects. Particularly interesting was the military responses to U-boats off American shores. Particularly sad, was the treatment of these merchant marine men after the war.
Colleen Harsany
Such an amazing factual read. I stayed up way too late many a night. Merchant marines displayed heroic courage time and time again, during WWII. They would get sunk and get right back on a vessel.
Colt
May 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-read-books
Yes, the subtitle is misleading. But this book is very much worth reading. The story of the men from Mathews, and of the merchant mariners generally in WWII, is not well known, but their contributions to the Allied victory were crucial.
Brian
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was an extremely well researched book, but despite its title, for me the book failed to focus sufficiently on a single or even a small enough number of characters to allow me to connect and sympathize with the story. I think it would have been better if, with all of the wealth of knowledge the author collected in preparing to write this book, he had actually centered in on the seven brothers earlier in the book, shortened up the book, and considered writing more than one book.
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