C.S. Forester,
Hunting the Bismarck
(Academy Chicago, 1983)

This is an exciting story of a pivotal World War II naval battle. The sinking of the Bismarck is a story I actually know very little about, so I am not sure how historically accurate this book is. I think the Bismarck took three hits in its initial encounter with (and quick dispatch of) the Hood, but historian C.S. Forester only speaks of one hit. Also, Forester gives us the conversations of men on the ships, in the air and in London. This makes for a more personal, involving, gripping story, and indeed this short, energetic work comes across as a form of history for the masses.

Hunting the Bismarck strikes me as an excellent resource for young readers; it richly portrays the mystery, majesty and glory of this naval battle without burdening the reader with the technical descriptions and ponderous musings of academic history.

Forester is best known for his fictional tales of the courageous sailor Horatio Hornblower, works that have captivated readers for decades, and he definitely knows how to tell a story. Readers with an armchair interest in World War II, and naval warfare in particular, will enjoy this quick-reading book, but those seriously interested in the sinking of the Bismarck should look elsewhere for the facts this book is not designed to provide. Having known very little about this event going in, this book has inspired in me a desire to learn more about this tragic yet triumphant moment in world history.

- Rambles
written by Daniel Jolley
published 2 July 2005



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