Hunt the Bismarck

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

I commend the author's on the readability of Hunt The Bismarck. It is written so conversationally that the facts unfold like the finest action thriller.  I must admit to not knowing a lot about the subject prior to reading, however I feel enlightened now.  The facts are well researched and presented. This book belongs on historian's bookshelves.
I received my copy through NetGalley under no obligation.
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As a kid, growing up in the 60's I had heard the popular song of the day, " Sink The Bismarck" by Johnny Horton. That old song rang in my ears as I recently read a comprehensive book about the last battle of the famous German battleship of the Second  World War, the "Bismarck", the pride of the German Kriegsmarine.

The book I speak of  is , "Hunt The Bismarck" (2019) by the noted naval historian, Angus Konstam, who has authored many books about the Second World War. This book has been published by Osprey Publishing. 

The book starts with Konstam explaining the rationale for the building of the Bismarck and the strategy planned by those in power in Nazi Germany even before war formally broke out in September 1939. The Bismarck was commissioned in August 1940. At the ceremony, Hitler himself was present to name the ship after Germany's famous son, the statesman, Otto von Bismarck.

However, despite her size and design ( she carried over 18,000 tons of armor) , her speed ( over 30 knots), her operating range ( over 8900 miles) and her armaments ( 4 double 15" turrets + 12 6" guns) she did not serve for too long.

The Bismarck did score a splendid victory before she went down. Konstam explains in detail how the Bismarck came up victorious against the mighty British battlecruiser, the H M S Hood, the pride of the Royal Navy. She then was perhaps the most powerful and famous battleship of her times. Over 1200 men went down with the Hood.

The brief career of Bismarck as a fighting ship came to an end in 1941, a mere 8 months after she made her first appearance. In that sense, her going down was a huge blow to the German Navy as they could not exploit her full potential at all.

In major battles, often it is the small things that turn the tide. In the case of the Bismarck it was a chance torpedo hit from the slow antiquated Swordfish biplane from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal that damaged her rudder. Despite all the armaments abroad, the giant warship was crippled much before she could pull her weight in the sea battle that followed. The loss of the Hood was avenged by the British warships which chased down Bismarck and her consort, the battle cruiser, Prinz Eugen. The Royal Navy ships that played a major part in the final destruction of the mighty Bismarck were the HMS Rodney, the HMS Ark Royal, and the HMS Prince of Wales.

Her own crew scuttled her as she lost the battle being crippled after the earlier attacks on her. Her capability of racing across the seas at speeds in excess of 30 knots became of mere academic interest. She went down with only 114 survivors from her crew of over 2200.

If you are a military history and the Second World War buff, Konstam's book makes for extremely interesting reading.
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I read a lot of military history - and I mean a lot! But rarely do I read naval history, but what a delight this book is. I knew the bare bones of the hunting and sinking of the Bismark but few details. Most of my assumptions were based on the old black and white film that I saw as a child. This book is riveting and was read in almost a day. I had recently been to Bergen in Norway and was able to clearly picture the Bismark's last departure from those waters. The writing is crisp and clear and perfect for any novice to naval warfare.  In short an excellent and very interesting read. 

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This was an interesting book about the famous Hunt the Bismarck battleship and the ultimate sinking of it.  I didn't know anything about this ship prior to reading this book, but have spent time researching it due to the interest this book created in me.
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I was initially drawn to this book because my father loved the 1960 movie about the Bismarck & I realized I didn't actually know much about that part of WWII history. I know quite a bit about the Tirpitz, but not the ship that actually hit the open sea.

The author did an excellent job of not just writing a dry book about history - he has clearly done his research - but making it exciting and enjoyable to read. This would be a good book even for someone who wasn't really into history.

I was disappointed when I realized I was at the end of the book. 

Highly recommended.
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Riveting and Illuminating. Despite being one of those “know a little about a lot” types, I fully admit that prior to reading this book, I didn’t know much about the Bismark or its sinking. I knew that it was the pride of the Nazi German Navy during WWII, that it was supposedly the most deadly ship afloat, and that it was sunk in a famous naval battle. Thus sums up my knowledge of the topic prior to reading this book. Yet Konstam does a deep dive into the full history of the Bismark and the events leading to its demise, and he does it in a very readable fashion almost akin to watching an actual movie about it. Thus, this naval historian – not exactly a group known for their readability outside their own circles – crafts a tale Tom Clancy would be hard pressed to top, even were he still alive. Truly excellent work. Very much recommended.
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Full review forthcoming......................................................................................................................................
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