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Rohwer, Jurgen. War at Sea, 1939-1945. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1996.
Acknowledgements; Foreword; photos; index.
A veteran of the Kriegsmarine and one of the world's most respected naval historians, Dr. Rohwer also wrote (with G. Hummelchen) Chronology of the War at Sea, 1939-1945. If you can own only a single naval history of the war, then his Chronology is the book to buy. His Axis Submarine Successes 1939-1945 -- assembling in minutely detailed tabular format every bit of information about attacks by German, Japanese, Italian, and other Axis submarines -- is also a remarkable achievement.
Interestingly enough, neither of those excellent volumes contains photos or other illustrations.
Perhaps partly for that reason, the Doctor's new title is constructed as a pictorial history of the naval war. The text, while quite lucid and wide-ranging, serves as little more than an extended caption for the photos.
As a pictorial history, the book succeeds very nicely. These are large, clear, often stunning, black and white wartime photos that illustrate every aspect of the struggle on the seas. Most are unusual and many, recently unearthed from East European archives, are seen here for the first time in print.
The pictures have been artfully selected, almost every one worth careful examination: from the aerial view of barges in Boulogne harbor, to the pattern of bomb splinters in HMS Penelope's hull, to the facial expressions of the sailors.
For those interested in photographic works, an attractive companion to Dr. Rohwer's earlier books.
Available from mail order booksellers, from local bookshops, or directly from Naval Institute Press for $45.
Thanks to Naval Institute Press for providing this review copy.
Reviewed 21 November 1996
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