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Bitter Ocean

The Battle of the Atlantic, 1939-1945

Between 1939 and 1945, more than 36,000 Allied sailors and navy airmen and 36,000 merchant seamen lost their lives in perhaps the least-known major battle of World War II, the Battle of the Atlantic. All the tanks, planes, bombs, and other vital supplies that the U.S. used to fight in Europe -- as well as the American troops themselves -- crossed the Atlantic aboard ship, a journey made perilous by the German U-boats that prowled the seas. In Bitter Ocean author and maritime journalist David Fairbank White gives us a masterful, authoritative account of how these American, Canadian, and British air and sea forces fought the Germans and prevailed -- at a terrible cost.

As dreadful as the loss of life was for the Allies, the Germans fared even worse; more than 80 percent of German U-boat crewmen never made it home. Drawing on a wealth of archival material as well as interviews with veterans on both sides of the ocean campaign, White takes us aboard ship and beneath the waves as he reconstructs this epic battle. Bitter Ocean vividly evokes the grim years when Admiral Karl Dönitz's U-boats succeeded in sinking more tonnage than Allied shipyards could replace and shows us the technological breakthroughs that reversed the course of the battle in 1943.

Written with a captivating immediacy, Bitter Ocean is a triumph of scholarship and narrative history.

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David Fairbank White has been a reporter for The New York Times and The Journal of Commerce, where he worked on the maritime desk. He is the author of the novel True Bearing. He lives with his family in New York City.

"[A] superior history of the longest-running battle of WWII.... A better starting place for the general reader to begin learning about this epic portion of WWII would be hard to imagine." -- Publishers Weekly

"The use of archival material and fresh interviews brings new life to the saga of how the Allies fought a costly battle -- 36,000 seamen perished -- in their effort to ferry supplies from the U.S. and Canada to Britain during World War II." -- Navy Times

"Not only is Bitter Ocean worthy and elegant literature, it is the fruit of diligent and intelligent research.... may be the definitive book on the subject." -- Norman N. Brown, Associated Press