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This is a dark and starkly realistic story describing the lives of British naval officers who escorted Atlantic convoys during WWII. The Atlantic war was brutal, harsh, demanding, and thankless in many regards as--especially at the beginning of the war--the escorting corvettes vainly tried to protect allied shipping from the dreaded U-Boats.
Monsarrat captures not only the historical reality of what being in these ships was like, but also the values and personal qualities of the people of the era. To this American listener the prose was very British (the narrator as well, who did a great job), and it gave me a particular insight into the British viewpoint and approach to the war.
Further, the author does a fine job making the reader feel the wildness of the weather and the sea, and the anxiety and frustration of trying to shepherd a convoy at night without modern navigation and other aids, while at any moment a deadly enemy might strike. Eventually of course the tides turn and victory is gained; but even at the end, a feeling of sadness and loss prevails. The hardness of the experience, and how it affected the everyday people caught up in it, was profound.
My only mild criticism is that the plot line is a little thin or even melodramatic in spots, especially as regards the characters when they were on leave.
In the end, this was a tribute to some less-well-recognized warriors of WWII and the absolutely critical role they played in the eventual Allied victory. It brought those characters and their war to life and memory. To me this is a must-read and a classic for those who are interested in this period of history.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
What did you love best about The Cruel Sea?
A geat story, authentic and one which really stays with you after you put the book down.
The book is a memorial to the seamen of WW2 who died in the Atlantic.
Who was your favorite character and why?
The captain of the Compas Rose, a character both believable and a typical Royal Navy captain.
What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Vance certainly brings the characters to life. The book was published in 1951 and is still a great read.
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
WW2 1939 to 1945
Any additional comments?
The book is factual ( I am 93 and lived through those days so I can vouch for that. It stays with you and you begin comparing the present with those days of the Greatest Generation.
Maybe I am getting too old!!!
9 of 10 people found this review helpful