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Torpedo Terror

By Richard Freeman

Nothing was certain, nothing was predictable in the roller-coaster of the 1914-18 U-boat war.

For four years German submarines turned the seas around Britain into a cauldron of death. 6,000 merchant ships plunged to the deep. And, on the German side, 5,000 men and over 500 officers lost their lives.

Torpedo Terror explores how ill-prepared the British Admiralty was for this new form of warfare. Over the previous twenty years, surface fleets had grown, warships had scaled up, guns fired at longer ranges, and ships raced at greater speeds. Only one thing had failed to change: the admirals. Ageing First Sea Lords Admiral Sir Henry Jackson and Admiral Sir John Jellicoe were confounded by the U-boats and the torpedoes. They froze in face of them.

This is perhaps the first book to show the 1914-18 U-boat war from all sides, including naval personnel, merchant seamen, housewives, diplomatic staff, politicians, and inventors. Its emphasis on the home fronts in both Britain and Germany also distinguishes it from other works.

Torpedo Terror uses a wide range of sources, including diaries, diplomatic correspondence, newspaper reports and recent theses to present a wide-ranging panorama of one of the longest battles in history.

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