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Sink the Bismarck!: John Gresham Military Library Selection

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  623 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
n 1941, Hitler's deadly Bismarck, the fastest battleship afloat, broke out into the Atlantic. Its mission: to cut the lifeline of British shipping and win the war with one mighty blow. How the Royal Navy tried to meet this threat and its desperate attempt to bring the giant Bismarck to bay is the story C. S. Forester tells with mounting excitement and suspense.
Published (first published 1958)
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Jun 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I've "blown" through this in a couple of hours. Nothing wrong with it, except it was over too soon.
The opening paragraph is a bit over the top in its patriotic fervor, but I have to admit the subject renders itself to such a treatment. When thousands of lives are lost at sea in a matter of minutes, and when 26 ships are sunk out of a convoy of 31, it makes the reader wonder what kind of courage and dedication it takes to set sail in the face of such odds.

This is a story of the most desperate ch
I've been familiar with the movie for years & I expected the book to be similar. However the book sticks more to the facts of the actual search and battle and read more like a documentary than like the movie.

Still, no one tells a sea story like C.S.Forester and one does get a feel for what a number of the participants must have felt. This is a very quick read at 118 pages and is well worth the time.

However, one really should watch the movie as well. There are whole characters and incidents
Travis Ristau
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before I read this book I had already seen a movie on the sinking of the Bismarck. I think the book is great as a means to describe what happened between Germany and the British and what happened on board each ship. On the other hand the movie did a much greater job of mapping everything out and showing the great size difference that the measurements in the book couldn't describe. I would recomand this book to anyone interested in war stories as it deals a lot with strategy but includes a miracl ...more
From IMDb:
The World War II story of the British Navy's effort to defeat Nazi Germany's most powerful warship.

A fabulous movie based on this book: Sink the Bismarck! (1960)

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Feb 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: individual interested in naval conflict of WWII
Great historical book. The hunt for the Bismarck is the topic of many books, movies and song. One knows how it ends, but the speeches, political stances of the military, the interest in the hunt at that time and other occurances that are not discribed in most history books make it a very interesting read. It is an easy read and worth the time.
Nathan Albright
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge2017
In dealing with this short and immensely popular WWII book [1], one is forced to confront the question of genre.  Is this book a history or is it a historical novella?  This is not as straightforward a question as one might imagine.  For one, the author purports to be writing a history of the sinking of the Bismarck, placing it in the context of a desperate hunt and the destruction of the Hood, but at the same time, the author notes that he creates speeches and assumes that his created speeches ...more
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of the Bismarck is epic in so many ways – the might & beautiful lines of the ship, the expectations of Admiral Lutjens and his crew, the precarious position Britain was in at that time as she still stood alone with the airborne invasion of Crete adding to the long list of woes, the chance siting of it off Malmo, the valiant shadowing by the Suffolk, the blowing up of the lovely Hood, the brand new Prince of Wales being mauled, the crippling of the most modern warship afloat by the ...more
Heather Morrison
It is a well told story, but I struggled with jumping from one to another every couple of pages. Just as I was getting into one units version of the story, I was tossed into a different one.
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book, helps to put some of the events into perspective.
Darren Goossens
Apr 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
This review appeared at

Quick and to the point: A review of Hunting the Bismarck by C.S.Forester.

Mayflower, 1974 (118 pages)

The Bismarck was one of a pair of battleships completed for the German navy, the Kriegsmarine, early in World War II, the other being the Tirpitz. Often lauded as a fearsome ship, the Bismarck in fact showed signs of being derived from a World War I design; in particular its disposition of armour was more suited to dealing with shells than ordnance de
Matthew Horrocks
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i decided to read this book because i am interested in events relating to WWII and Nazi Germany.

this fits into the bingo board category of 'a book with themes related to those we've studied in class in term three'. this is because it is about other famous ships sinking ie the Bismarck and HMS Hood. this is interesting because it is also very similar to the titanic in the way that this book concentrates on events leading up to as well as the sinking of the ship, just like in the titanic.

this book
This is an approximation of what happened with the Bismarck. The conversations and speeches are what the author imagines they would have been. And the little disclaimer in the front says some of the characters never actually existed even if people very much like them did. It’s only a short story but Forester manages to pack it full of suspense and tension. Even though the outcome is already known. There is a lot of people looking at maps and pointing while saying ‘THERE’. It is probably more dra ...more
Apr 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Sink the Bismarck" is a historical "narrative-fiction" book, much like "Killer Angels" by Jeff Shaara -- the storyline is based on historical fact, but uses fictional dialogue among the principal characters. For the most part, Forester has done a good job presenting the heated chase of Germany's super-battleship and the Royal Navy. There is drama aplenty, and the action sequences are very well done. The narration is, for the most part, lively and believable, although the Bismarck's commander so ...more
Jason Kratz
Not what I remembered

I was obsessed with this book when I was in grade school in the early 80s. I couldn't get enough of it, and the movie version back then. Reading it now as a man in his mid-40s I was disappointed. The writing is pretty terrible. I realize that the author probably had very little real information to work with for the Bismarck-side of the story but the dialog he created was a bit melodramatic. I'm still giving it three stars for the effort and ten fact that it was an important
Stuart Dean
Dec 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short book, read it all in one sitting. An exciting tale of the search for the Bismarck, with some attempt to humanize the story by adding in fictional personal experiences from the people involved, including Admiral Lutjens and Captain Lindemann who obviously could not be interviewed. Includes several maps which are extremely helpful in picturing the area the search covered. Fast paced and wholly satisfactory.
Reet Champion
A fascinating read. From what I understand this is a somewhat fictionalized retelling of the event, but it includes a good many facts, as well. Forester didn't bog down readers with details, that's for certain! If you are looking for a book regarding Bismarck and want but a "light" read this one is recommended.
Sep 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, war
This is listed a non-fiction by the publisher but I consider it historical fiction since the author admits that even though the events are real, many of the characters and dialog are all made up. An okay telling of the battle to sink the Bismarck. Used for the movie, Sink the Bismarck which seems to stick closely to the book. Made up characters and all.
Oct 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

It is very good and historically accurate. Possibly the best book I have ever read. I do think that lots of people should read this. They think it might be cool and it teaches the reader something.
reads like a movie. At first I thought it was a novelization of the film, but no, the book came first. In fact it turns out that it was originally titled: The Last Nine Days of the Bismarck. It was only reprinted as "Sink the Bismarck" after the film was made.
Chris Gager
Feb 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Obviously not first published in 1920! A war! A ship! A movie! a song! Johnny Horton I think. Good book and stiff upper lip movie. The song's kind of wacky though. Two other books by different authors with the same title - weird! Date read is a guess.
Aug 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of the most desperate chances, of the loftiest patriotism and of the highest professional skills, of a gamble for the domination of the world in which human lives were the stakes on the green gaming table of the oceans.
Mar 31, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
A good story about the events known at that time and a good jumping off point for more research. My only problem with this copy of the book was the multiple typos. Sometimes there were several on one (small) page.
Hom Sack
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A short delight read. The author brings to life what those days were like on both sides. The 1960 movie based on the book is nice as well.
Feb 08, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historic
Tends to stiffness in tone, but an excellent narrative.
Jun 12, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
One of the great WWII stories - Forester wanted to add some drama to it bring it to life. I think he added too much. Nonetheless, it's a quick, fun read.
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Sink the Bismarck" is an interesting narrative of how the great German ship Bismarck was damaged and then sunk.
Stefan Vucak
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Forester brings this story alive!
It was pretty "Meh" compared to the other books I've read.
Harry Moncelle
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read, First published as the last nine days of the Bismarck, Forester puts you on the birdge of the Bismarck, the Hood, and others.
Brent Kleppen
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in elementary school and it still rings as one of my favorites.
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Cecil Scott Forester was the pen name of Cecil Louis Troughton Smith, an English novelist who rose to fame with tales of adventure and military crusades. His most notable works were the 11-book Horatio Hornblower series, about naval warfare during the Napoleonic era, and The African Queen (1935; filmed in 1951 by John Huston). His novels A Ship of the Line and Flying Colours were jointly awarded t ...more
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