by Niklas Zetterling & Michael Tamelander
Philadelphia: Casemate, 2009. Pp. 363.
Illus., maps, notes, biblio. $32.95. ISBN: 9781935149187
While the Bismarck is by far the more famous of Germany's battleships in World War II, and certainly had the more spectacular career, her lesser-known sister-ship Tirpitz served for much longer, and arguably had a much greater impact on the Second World War.
Originally published in Swedish, in Tirpitz: The Life and Death of Germany's Last Super Battleship, Zetterling and Tamelander, prolific historians of World War II little known in the English speaking world, effectively weave the story of the ship into the fabric of the war. The book gives the reader a detailed look at the ship's operations during the war, but goes beyond that to discuss how Tirpitz, by her very existence not only threatened convoys to the Soviet Union, but also had a strategic global impact on the Allied war effort, requiring substantial forces to keep her in check, thus depriving other theatres of their services. This led to numerous genuinely heroic attempts to destroy her, to ease the supply lines to Russia to and release forces for service elsewhere, from the raid on Saint Nazaire and resistance operations to repeated air raids and midget submarine attacks.
A very good account of the Tirpitz and of the naval war in the North Atlantic and Norwegian waters, this is also a useful read for anyone interested in the Second Wolrd War at sea.