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A Measureless Peril: America in the Fight for the Atlantic, the Longest Battle of World War II

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  163 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Of all the threats that faced his country in World War II, Winston Churchill said, just one really scared him—what he called the "measureless peril" of the German U-boat campaign.

In that global conflagration, only one battle—the struggle for the Atlantic—lasted from the very first hours of the conflict to its final day. Hitler knew that victory depended on controlling the
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Scribner (first published 2010)
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Aug 22, 2012 Eric_W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Richard Snow’s father served as a lieutenant aboard a destroyer escort in the Atlantic during WW II. Using letters and other papers of his father, he has recreated the battles against German subs. About two-thirds of the book consists of a collection of short, but interesting, chapters, essays, almost, that provide an introduction to naval development between the wars before we meet his dad.

Snow begins with a brief summary of the development of the German submarine force. One interesting detail
Jul 24, 2010 Craig rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war-military
In the early years of World War II, the shipping of goods and materiel to England was devastated by the German submarines. Often traveling in "wolf packs", they preyed relentlessly and with impunity on the merchant vessels transporting supplies to that desparate nation. Millions of tons of ships and cargo were sent to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The United States entered the war in December, 1941, but was initally ill-equiped to deal with the German U Boat. "A Measureless Peril" details Ge ...more
Jan 10, 2017 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a difficult book to categorize. Is it the author's tribute to his father's WWII service, a remembrance of a unheralded part of America's entry into that war or is it a history of that little known and seldom lauded USN Destroyer Escort? It is all those things, plus some good reporting on German submarines, and the author does a credible job of it all. It begins slow but I found it was easy to look for excuses to grab a few minutes to get back to this book. There is plenty of interesting ...more
May 14, 2013 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-read
Prior to starting my “read” of this book, I noted a review that found fault with the authors attempt to cover too many historical aspects while also presenting personal events based on his (the author’s) father’s service in the Navy and Battle of the Atlantic. Having completed the book, and comparing it to other immense books I’ve read, which attempted similar great coverage (the French & Indian War) in detail which only succeeded in putting the reader to sleep, I must say this author did a ...more
Jun 08, 2010 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: most folks
Every now and again I like to balance out my reading with a non fiction book, I read about this book in the NYT Sunday Book Review and was intregued. The author's father served in WWII on a distroyer escort ship which gives a rather unique angle to this new novel on an older war. Much of what is revealed in this book was, until recently, classified - thus making it a story not before told. How the DE's came to be, breaking of the German code (much earlier than previously told - pre Polish invasi ...more
Jan 02, 2014 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
We've all read about the Battles of Coral Sea and Midway, even the Phillapine Sea. We've read about land battles, Iwo Jima, Tarawa, Battle of the Bulge, but not many have gotten into the Battle of the Atlantic. Snow's book is great in discussing the many trials and tribulations of what went on, in the Atlantic, that saved England's hide (even the Soviets). First there was an undeclared war and then, after Hitler made is historic blunder on December 11, 1941, the declared war in the Atlantic. Sno ...more
Jun 13, 2012 Cie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really interesting and well-written book. I love that the author stayed on subject and as enticing as it would have been for him to elaborate on other aspects of the war, he really stayed on task and kept to his story. I have read countless books on WWII and there were so many facets of the war, sometimes books go off into too many directions and the reader only get little bits of information about too many things. I felt like this was a complete telling of this particular part of the war. I w ...more
I've been reading this book for several months. Even tho it's an interesting part of history, I'm finding it difficult to stay engaged with the book. The writing style is rather dry and uncompelling. I'm dtermined to finish it though.

I finally finished the book. Not an easy read, but a lot of good information. A bit too detailed for me regarding how the ships were outfitted, etc. parts of it were very readable when the author didn't get bogged down with all the details. A Navy man or someone in
I wanted to like this book more than I did. The book seemed confused in focus was it a history of the Atlantic campaign, a history of the destroyer escort type of vessel or a personal history of Snow's father. If Snow picked one of the three as a focus the book would have profited greatly but Snow's focus is diffused between the three which weakens his work. I would have preferred a personal history of his father using the letters he sent to his mother. Instead Snow wrote a volume trying to achi ...more
Oct 14, 2011 Christen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, wwii
I don't know what to say. This was a book filled with interesting material and I learned a lot about the war being fought on the Atlantic, yet it couldn't hold my attention. After nearly a month of trying to read it, I finally put it down at about page 250 (it's 330 pages). It's interesting to note how strong the German army was in the Atlantic and quite amazing, actually, that the Allies really won the war.
My purpose in reading this book is part of my quest to find out as much as I can about my father 19s experiences in WWII aboard a Fletcher class destroyer, the USS Terry (DD-513). This book deals a great bit with destroyer escorts, particularly the one that the author 19s father was on during the war. I 19m glad I read it and it did add to my knowledge of what it must have been like for my father in the Pacific.
Anne Ward
A Measureless Peril tells a history that isn't in most history books. It tells a story of the chess match that took place in the Atlantic during WWII. The book is packed full of history and stories that are worth the read, but the author is too indulgent in telling his Dad's story at the end for the book to be taken seriously as a historical resource.

Three stars: This book was two-thirds amazing and one-third tangent. The tangent brings it down to three stars.
Nov 21, 2013 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book! Contains personal stories of individuals caught in the deadly submarine/anti- submarine warfare in the Atlantic. His father (an architect by profession but naval officer during the war) served on one of the hundreds of destroyer escorts put into service to halt the devastating rate of sinking of Allied merchant shipping. Inclusion of his experiences brings the stories to life.
Mar 07, 2014 Shelley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author did an excellent job of detailing the Atlantic conflict from the view aboard a US Navy vessel and also from the captains of the German U boats. Very informative and enlightening regarding how close the conflict came to the shores of North America and how the navy was built ship by ship in a short period of time to meet the needs of the Allies.
David R.
Snow recounts the Atlantic naval (read: anti-U Boat) campaign of WWII with respect to the great military decisions as well as to the on-the-deck experiences of his father, an ordinary seaman. There's a lot here that most students of history don't encounter especially with respect to the build-up of convoys and countersub technology.
Sep 03, 2010 Lynnette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an entertaining and interesting look at the war in the Atlantic
during WWII for all my Goodreads history buffs out there. OK--that
would be ME. The book had detailed info on both the German U-boats as
well as the British and American fleets (or lack thereof...)including
personal accounts of the author's father. L
Aug 30, 2010 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look back at the U.S. Navy's sturggle to deal with the German U-boat threat in the North Atlantic before and during WWII. The book includes insight into the opposing naval commanders who constantly tried to outfox each other and carry out their missions. Great read for anyone who likes WWII history.
Nov 07, 2011 Tom rated it it was amazing
An excellent and detailed account of the personalities, strategies and policies that shaped the WWII battle against the German U-boats. Our concerns about terrorism pale to insignificance when compared to the hellish destruction, loss of life and brutality of the U-boat campaigns. I hope Richard Snow has a few more books in him.
A good account of a too-often neglected but nonetheless vital theater of operations in WW II. If our troops and their supplies had not been able to get past the Nazi U-boats and across the Atlantic, there would have been no invasions of North Africa, Sicily, Italy, or France.
Geoff Loftus
Aug 19, 2014 Geoff Loftus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My uncle died in this battle, so the book has special meaning to me. Thanks to Richard Snow for capturing the "Peril" and the immense courage of the Americans who refused to yield during the longest battle of the entire war. A fantastic book.
Mary Rank
I was hoping to finish this book, but I simply couldn't stay engaged. There were many details that I couldn't relate to and I wasn't compelled to learn more. Maybe if Laura Hillenbrand had written this I would've stayed more interested.
This is the book that Laura Hillenbrand recommended in "Parade" on July 10, 2011. She said, "Last winter I read Richard Snow's 'A Measureless Peril,' a terrific history of the WWII submarine war in the Atlantic. I loved it so much that I plan to savor it again this summer."
Peter Johnson
Jan 27, 2013 Peter Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the book. It is a very clear and personal account of the Battle of the Atlantic told by the son of a participant. Told as a series of sequential vignettes, it immerses the reader in the agonies of that aspect of the WWII conflict.
Don Healy
Nov 24, 2012 Don Healy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you don't come away from this both amazed, that we won the war and at the men who made it possible, you haven't been reading closely enough. This covers an under reported story of the war, going from the hunted to the hunters in the Atlantic.
Lawrence Block
Sep 16, 2011 Lawrence Block rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vital history brilliantly told. Snow was the longtime editor of American Heritage and brings a novelist's sensitivity to bear on his subject.
Mar 05, 2011 Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a general history of the Battle of the Atlantic, but rather a person history told mostly through the story of the author's father. Quit good.
Sy De Witt
So far so good....Very enjoyable read...

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which provided a series of vignettes describing the Battle of the Atlantic during World War Two.
An in-depth look at the battle for the Atlantic and the German u-boats. Need to finish this one someday.
David Brown
Jul 18, 2011 David Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
I can see why Laura Hillelbrand recommended this. A very personal and fascinating examination of the Battle of the Atlantic and the Destroyer Escort.
victor harris
victor harris rated it it was ok
Feb 25, 2011
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