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

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Simon and Schuster, May 4, 2010 - History - 368 pages
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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 sea-lanes where American food and fuel and weapons flowed to the Allies. At the start, U-boats patrolled a few miles off the eastern seaboard, savagely attacking scores of defenseless passenger ships and merchant vessels while hastily converted American cabin cruisers and fishing boats vainly tried to stop them. Before long, though, the United States was ramping up what would be the greatest production of naval vessels the world had ever known.

Then the battle became a thrilling cat-and-mouse game between the quickly built U.S. warships and the ever-more cunning and lethal U-boats. The historian Richard Snow captures all the drama of the merciless contest at every level, from the doomed sailors on an American freighter defying a German cruiser, to the amazing Allied attempts to break the German naval codes, to Winston Churchill pressing Franklin Roosevelt to join the war months before Pearl Harbor (and FDR’s shrewd attempts to fight the battle alongside Britain while still appearing to keep out of it).

Inspired by the collection of letters that his father sent his mother from the destroyer escort he served aboard, Snow brings to life the longest continuous battle in modern times.

 With its vibrant prose and fast-paced action, A Measureless Peril is an immensely satisfying account that belongs on the small shelf of the finest histories ever written about World War II.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DHealy - LibraryThing

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. Read full review

A MEASURELESS PERIL: America in the Fight for the Atlantic, the Longest Battle of World War II

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Former longtime American Heritage editor Snow (Coney Island: A Postcard Journey to the City of Fire, 1983, etc.) examines the Atlantic theater of World War II, where his father fought.The Pacific is ... Read full review

Contents

Whats the Matter with the Davis?
1
Flower Show
8
Too Dumb to Stay on the Farm
14
Building Hitlers Navy
20
The Simple Principle of Fighting Several Steamers
26
On the Devils Shovel
36
The End of the Athenia
48
Captain Gainards Killer Dillers
58
Five Boats against America
150
The Hooligan Navy
169
Start Swinging Lady
194
Sighted Sub
211
The Smallest Major War Vessel
226
The Heartbeat of the Pings
250
The Fleet without a
267
Steaming as Before
276

Prison Ship
70
A New Chapter of World History
86
Doenitz Goes to France
101
Fishing Trip
120
The Rattlesnakes of the Atlantic
135
Combustible Vulnerable and Expendable
289
Do Hostilities Ever Cease?
314
Bibliographical Note and Acknowledgments
327
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Richard Snow was born in New York City and he graduated with a B.A. from Columbia College. He worked at American Heritage magazine for nearly four decades and was its editor-in-chief for seventeen years. He is the author of several books, including two novels and a volume of poetry. Snow has served as a consultant for historical motion pictures—among them Glory—and has written for documentaries, including the Burns brothers’ Civil War, and Ric Burns’s PBS film Coney Island. Most recently, he served as a consultant on Ken Burns’s World War II series, The War.

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