This review was written by my son, Elliot, who will be majoring in history at university next fall. He likes this sort of book, but from his description, I think it has a broader appeal than just history nuts! We received a free copy in exchange for our honest opinion.
The Hunt for Hitler’s Warship is the story of, well, the hunt for Hitler’s warship. The battleship Tripitz was one of the largest battleships ever to be built by a European power. She and her sister ship, the Bismarck, were built as part of Hitler’s rearmament plan that would allow Germany to reclaim her position of supremacy in Europe, and were considered unstoppable. The Royal Navy constantly tried to sink this great warship as it posed a great threat to their conveys which were vital for their survival. The finding of both ships was of the utmost importance. The book opens with an account of Churchill demanding to know the location of the Tripitz. “ Yet throughout her life, this one battleship, the last of Hitler’s fleet, could disturb his calm, nagging at his thoughts when it might be imagined he had bigger concerns to worry about. His wish to see it sunk or at least disabled bordered on the obsessive.” (p xxii).
The Hunt for Hitler’s Warship tells the story from a 3rd person omniscient viewpoint. The narrator tells individual stories from during specific encounters. For example, when the Bismarck sank the Hood, the pride of the royal navy, the story of the encounter is very precisely told, such as “ At 5:35 am, a lookout saw smoke on the northwest horizon” (p 26). I personally like this because it gives a precise and chronological account of the events of a specific event. Everything that happens is mentioned, down to very minor details which gives a vividness to the story and keeps it from being a dry account. Everything is told in a way that holds the reader’s attention, and helps one to remember the information.
Early on in the book, the sinking of the Hood is described, and the sinking of this ship causes Churchill to increase the number of expeditions and fleets that are attempting to find and sink the battleships. In the prologue, Bishop states that there were thirty-six major Allied operations against the ship, and so he tells of mission after mission and of the people who took part in them. For example, Flight Lieutenant A. F. P. Fane was able to spot the ship after a reconnoissance flight over the eastern end of the Trondheimsfjord in central Norway. The author tells us about these individuals who, in a sense, become the protagonists of the story even though we already know the end. It gives us someone to root for, and we feel the disappointment after the we see the mission fail. Bishop goes into great detail about everything that took place during this time, from the peacetime procedures to determine a ship’s seaworthiness to the development of Hitler’s micromanagement as the war progressed, especially after the loss of the Bismarck. An interesting thing that is suggested by what Bishop tells us, is the move by Hitler away from laissez-faire to micromanagement which would have repercussions in other areas of the war. These facts and suggestions sprinkled throughout the book make it a very interesting read, especially if the reader enjoys history.
The Hunt for Hitler’s Warship is a chronological account of the Allied attempts to destroy the biggest threat to their naval supremacy, yet within each of the accounts of each mission, Bishop creates protagonists which gives the reader someone to cheer on and to share in the excitement and disappointment. It does a great job of holding the readers interest and attention and I strongly recommend this books to anyone who enjoys reading a good story.
This review is part of TLC Tours.
Heather J. says
I like that the author finds protagonists within each small “adventure” – I can see how this would help to really engage readers.
Thanks for being on the tour Elliot and Elizabeth!
Anyone who can make history into a fascinating story is someone I want to follow! I’m so glad you liked this one!
Anna (Diary of an Eccentric) says
I didn’t think I’d be interested in this one. I was worried it would be dry and boring, but your review has me thinking it’s worth checking out!