Naval Warfare Books

Book reviews

Operation Drumbeat

Gannon, Michael

ISBN 0060920882
485 pages, 31 b&w photos, 5 maps, and 1 diagram

Type. General History book
Pros. Detailed and accurate narrative
Cons. Nothing major

Few U-boat books in the last few years have received as positive all around reviews and feedback as this one. This excellent book covers the opening of Operation Paukenschlag, Drumbeat, against the US East Coast in Jan-Feb 1942.

As a prelude it covers in detail the events taking place before US entry into the war such as the lend-lease program of 1940 and US and British cooperation in the Atlantic in 1941.

Its focus follows U-123 for the most part but it also gives an excellent view of both the British Submarine Tracking Room and the US Naval activities which consisted, for the most part, of series of blunders.

One of those blunders revealed is that in spite of clear warning from the British, who sent daily updates on the 5 Drumbeat boat's positions the US Navy did nothing. They had 25 modern destroyers ready for combat (on the East Coats) and they could have seriously upset the German timetable, if not stopped the offensive altogether at its very offset.

Another one was the fierce resistance to implement the convoy system so successfully run by the British.

The best part of the book is its readability. Operation Drumbeat reads like an excellent novel although it's of course not. It is a serious and careful historical research. One can really feel like a part of U-123's crew through its accurate narrative of its two America patrols in early 1942.

Gannon's very meticulous research is very evident throughout the book. It includes a very extensive list of notes that are referred to in the book. He takes the stand that Operation Drumbeat was only the first 5 U-boats in January 1942. All the other boats attacking the US coast were simply follow up operations. We agree with this point. The book does, however, continue with an overview of what happened after the initial attacks and the allied response.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in any form of naval warfare.

Review written by GuĂ°mundur Helgason.

Published on 18 Jan 1998.

This title is highly recommended.

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