The Boat Author:Lothar Gunther Buchheim From Germany-where it provoked a storm of controversy-comes this truly extraordinary novel about men at war. The Boat is the story of a World War II U-Boat and her crew, told with stunning force by Lothar Gunther Buchheim, who has remembered every detail with a blazing obsession. Of the 40,000 men aboard German submarines, 30,000 never returned.... more » Filled with unbearable urgency and excitement,this is more than a novel about war at sea, although it records the brutal details of death in battle. This is the fearful tale of men in mortal danger, a celebration of human endurance that, in its compassion, its beauty and its power, compares with All Quiet on the Western Front. Acclaimed and dammed for its devastating candor about Germany's fighting men, this is a supreme novel about World War II by a man on the other side.« less
Buchheim has an illustrative style which in other writers can be very tiresome - but somehow in this book it serves to highlight the extreme psychological stress of life on a WW2 U-boat - the claustrophobia, helplessness under fire, the total reliance on the split-second judgements of one man, the 30 year old commander they call 'The Old Man'. The only recourse for an individual trapped in this hell is to withdraw into an internal reality in which past events, opportunities taken and opportunities missed are examined in the same minute detail as the internal features of the boat, and the colours and textures of the waves and the clouds on the rare excursions to the tower. The only thing which goes unexamined is the future: best not to think beyond the immediate, in a world where life can be snatched away in an instant. The real shock of this book is that it is first hand documentary written by one of the few that got away.