1996, Motorbooks International
|Cons.||Mostly inaccurate information|
This largely pictorial overview of U-boat warfare is definitely an odd creature. While the pictures are excellent and quite useful in themselves, the accompanying text and captions often contain errors.
These errors represent a range of severity, from simple typographical errors, to errors in translation, to cases of simply plain wrong information. Major categories of errors include misspelling of ranks; inconsistent use of hyphenation (e.g., Type II A, type IIA, Type II-A, and Type-II-A are all used); wrong ranks attributed to commanders; wrong dates and years; wrong statistical information; wrong fates of boats; wrong spelling of commanders' names, flotilla names, and other words; and misleading information.
As an example, an analysis of the photo captions alone on a randomly chosen range of ten pages shows that of 18 captions, half contained at least one error, sometimes two or three, and in one case eight separate errors. A listing of these errors appears below:
Caption on page 10
- shows incorrect displacement figure for the type IA
states the type was introduced in 1932 when in fact the only two of its type were not built until 1935/1936
lists U-25 as sunk August 3 [was really August 1]
lists U-25 as having a 50-man crew [was really 49]
indicates, in total disregard to the statement in the same caption noted above, that the type IA had a 43-man crew [in fact, U-25 and U-26, both of this type, had crews of 49 and 48 respectively]
Caption on page 11
- type IIB statistics show maximum diving depth as 80m [really 150m]
Indicates total of 8 IIDs built [really 16]
Vesikko is incorrectly spelled as Visikko
Crew size for Type II listed as 25 [really 22-24]
Gives statistics for "Type II" as if Types IIA, IIB, IIC and IID were identical, which in fact they were not (otherwise they would not have been given different designations!). For example, statistics for speed and length actually differ among all types, but are given in the caption as identical for all four.
Incorrectly lists number of torpedoes carried as 6 [really 5]
States the IID could carry up to 8 mines, making it sound as if it was the only one of the four that carried mines. [Every boat of this type could carry mines; also, the maximum was 12, not 8.]
The ranges given for the IIB and the IID are incorrect.
First caption on page 12
- As on page 10, lists date of U-25's sinking as 3 August, 1940 [really 1 August]
Second caption on page 12
- States U-1 was commissioned 29 June, 1939 [was really 1935]
States U-1 was torpedoed 16 April, 1940 by HMS Porpoise [official fate is: missing since 6 April 1940, probably lost to a mine]
Caption on page 13
- Saltwedel Flotilla [Saltzwedel]
Lists 4 boats, then refers to them as "these three boats"
First caption on page 15
- Purports to show UA and U-30 side by side in Wilhelmshaven in November 1930, which is impossible since these boats had not yet been constructed at that time.
Third caption on page 15
- U-48 is listed as Type VII-C [really VII-B]
Korvettenkapitän is given as "Korvetten Kapitän"
Third caption on page 17
Prien's rank at the time of his raid on Scapa Flow is given as Korvettenkapitän [was really Kapitänleutnant] and again spelled as Korvetten Kapitän
States that Endrass disappeared "while serving aboard U-567" (this is misleading as no one would be able to determine from this statement that Endrass was actually the captain)
First caption on page 18
- Prien's rank is again given as Korvettenkapitän [really Kapitänleutnant] and again spelled as Korvetten Kapitän
Again, this list represents just the captions on ten pages of this 144-page book. The text itself contains similar types of errors.
While the incorrect fates are understandable on the grounds that new data has come to light since the publication of this book, the other errors are simply inexcusable. It is evident that this book did not enjoy even a minimal level of proofreading before its publication. I have not seen the original French version, but it is likely the factual errors and possibly also the typographical errors originated there, and were carried over into the English version, which suffers additionally from generally poor translation. Besides incorrect spelling and grammar, failure to translate technical terms and place names into their proper English equivalents makes reading very confusing (e.g., "thick hull" instead of pressure hull; "Antilles Sea" instead of Caribbean Sea…).
The photos and other illustrations are the only aspect of the book that make it at all worthwhile. They are numerous, well-reproduced, and many are in color. My final recommendation: Look at the pictures, don't read the text!
Review written by Tonya Allen.
Published on 16 Feb 2000.
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