Cover image for The destruction of the Bismarck
The destruction of the Bismarck
Bercuson, David Jay.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Woodstock, NY : Overlook Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
viii, 385 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, plans ; 24 cm
Corporate Subject:
Added Author:
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Material Type
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D772.B5 B37 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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This book is history of the best sort, at once vivid and authoritative, offering the definitive account of one of the most dramatic and momentous events of the Second World War--the sinking by the British of the German battleship "Bismarck."

Author Notes

Noted historian Bercuson has uncovered much new information on the Bismarck, including a close examination of the wreck itself, discovered on the ocean floor only in 1989.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The sinking of the German battleship Bismarck in May 1941 provided a rare piece of good news for a British public suffering from a series of military disasters. Understandably, the campaign to track and sink the Bismarck has assumed near mythological status over the past 60 years. Bercuson and Herwig are military historians specializing in naval warfare. They have written a gripping account of the effort to destroy the ship; they have utilized recently declassified files to dispel many long-held, false assumptions. Some of the naval jargon may confuse nonspecialists. However, for the most part, general readers can digest this fast-paced narrative. Bercuson and Herwig's examination of the political and diplomatic implications of the campaign is interesting, but their story catches fire when they describe the actual blow-by-blow slugfest that sunk the mighty ship. This will be a fine addition to World War II collections of public and academic libraries. --Jay Freeman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Made famous by a postwar Hollywood movie and Johnny Horton's song, the destruction of the feared German WWII warship involved the Royal Navy as well as clandestine American air and sea support. Canadian authors Bercuson, who has penned more than 30 books, and Herwig, who edits a book series titled Naval Policy and War, have teamed up to present a new look at the short-lived cruise of the German battleship in May 1941. Many previous books provide painstaking blow-by-blow accounts of the action; the authors here examine recently opened diplomatic flies from England and America that provide some fresh new data concerning the supposedly neutral American involvement in the hunt for the Bismarck. American planes spotted the German ship after she sank the Hood, and, although some of the evidence is circumstantial, the authors make a compelling claim that American Coast Guard vessels also assisted the overworked Royal Navy. Included in this book are concise, analytical biographies of the major officers from both sides, brief histories of the major naval vessels involved and cutting analysis of the crucial command decisions that sealed the Bismarck's fate. Students of WWII naval warfare will find this compelling reading, as will those interested in FDR's policy toward the belligerents. 21 illustrations and 3 maps not seen by PW. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The lack of a long naval tradition, Hitler's weak naval strategic outlook, Swedish espionage, FDR's close cooperation with Churchill even before Lend-Lease, and the official entry of America into World War II all combined to make the first cruise of the German battleship Bismarck a disaster. This hour-by-hour narrative by historians Bercuson (The Oxford Dictionary of Canadian Military History) and Herwig (coauthor, with Bercuson, of Deadly Seas) will keep readers on the edge of their seats. The authors have done good research and avoid the hyperbole often associated with descriptions of the Bismarck's sinking in 1941. Brief biographies of British and German naval leaders help us understand their philosophies of naval warfare. The Bismarck's brief encounter with the Royal Navy cemented Hitler's distaste for a surface war and helped eliminate the German surface fleet as a major player in World War II. A definite purchase for libraries seeking to update their naval collections, this volume also serves to update the two previous standard works on the Bismarck: William Shirer's Sinking of the Bismarck (o.p.) and C.S. Forester's The Last Nine Days of the Bismarck (1959). Richard Nowicki, formerly with Emerson Vocational High Sch. Buffalo, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.