Naval Warfare Books

Book reviews

Neither Sharks nor Wolves

The Men of Nazi Germany's U-boat Arm, 1939-1945

Mulligan, Timothy P.

1999, United States Naval Inst.
ISBN 1557505942
340 pages, 24 photos

Type. Scholarly Analysis
Pros. Breaks new ground and challenges old assumptions
Cons. None to speak of

Timothy Mulligan brings his historical training to bear on the commonly-repeated but seldom-substantiated "facts" of the U-boat War, many of which he shows to be misconceptions. This is a real social scientist's book, based on statistical analysis of survey data. Depending on the reader's preferences, they will either be pleased to see scientific method and quantified results applied to this topic; or dismayed by the numbers and tables peppering the book.

More than a thousand former U-boat men responded to detailed surveys and provided information regarding their age at enlistment, family background, prewar occupation, etc. (A description of the questionnaire and notes on nonresponse bias are provided in Appendix 1.) A selection of these individuals were interviewed in depth. Using the data gathered, Mulligan takes aim at preconceptions ranging from the controversial to the mundane.

A fundamental focus of the book is the changing nature of the U-boat arm over time. Recognizing the war as a continuum rather than a homogenous six-year block, Mulligan investigates successes, losses, morale, attitude toward survivors, and the changing composition of the U-boat personnel themselves from 1939 to 1945. While changes in technology and many other aspects of U-boat warfare during the course of the war have been well documented, this analysis breaks new ground and challenges some hoary assumptions.

A unique contribution to the field.

Review written by Tonya Allen.

Published on 26 Nov 1999.

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This title is highly recommended.

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