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War Beneath the Sea

This is the first book to cover all submarine and anti-submarine operations of the major powers, U.S., British, German, Japanese and Italian in the Second World War. The canvas is broad and deep, from the strategic perspective at the top to the cramped and claustrophobic life of the crews in their submersible steel tubes; from the feats of ‘ace’ commanders to the terrifying experiences of men under attack in this most pitiless form of warfare.

Peter Padfield describes the technical and tactical measures by which the Western Allies countered Admiral Karl Dönitz’s U-boat ‘pack’ attacks in the all-important North Atlantic battle; the fanatical zeal with which, even after defeat, Dönitz continued sacrificing his young crews in outmoded boats, dubbed by one veteran ‘iron coffins’; while in the Pacific the superiority of American fleet submarines and radar allowed the U.S. to isolate Japan from her overseas sources of supply.

Padfield argues that if this strategic potential had been realised earlier it could have saved thousands of lives in the bloody Pacific island campaigns, and even rendered the use of atomic bombs unnecessary.


‘Peter Padfield is the best British naval historian of his generation…His book…will now become the standard work on the subject.’

John Keegan, The Daily Telegraph

‘This looks set to become the definitive work on submarine warfare in the Second World War…’ Paul Hoxton, Military Illustrated

‘By far the best and most complete critical history of the submarine operations of all the combatants in the Second World War, at the same time providing vivid narrative accounts of particular actions…’

Alan Cameron, Lloyd’s List

‘Peter Padfield has written a superb history of a complex and controversial subject. It is a valuable addition to our body of history of World War II, and I recommend it highly.’

Vice Admiral James F. Calvert USN Rtd., U.S.N.I Proceedings

‘This monument to the submarine arms of the major belligerents tells the story of their triumphs and tragedies and comes from one of our ablest naval historians…’

Graham Rhys-Jones, R.U.S.I.Journal

‘…the book is very well written and enjoyable to read. The facts and statistics are mixed with well penned character studies and fast-moving descriptive narrative in a way that confirms the author’s stature as a leading military historian…’

The Naval Review

‘…a near flawless work of history that can be recommended both as a serious study and a compelling read.’

The Officer Magazine

‘Probably one of the most valuable books ever written on submarine operations and countermeasures for World War II history…in the ‘Bravo’ category.’

Canadian Military History Book Review Supplement

‘Padfield keeps an unwavering balance between providing the depth of history and maintaining an exciting narrative.’

The Times

Buy Peter Padfield